- The Washington Times - Friday, September 4, 2009

GETTIN’ KINKY

Yee-haw. Kinky Friedman is running for governor of Texas in 2010 for the second time, as a populist Democrat rather than fierce independent. But his style is still fierce. The lone star — cigar aficionado, singer, raconteur, detective and novelist — has concocted a “Bloody Mary Morning” fundraiser with his old chum Willie Nelson later this month.

Starts “elevenish — unless Willie wakes up earlier,” Mr. Friedman observes, adding that it’s an effort to help Texas “secede” from Gov. Rick Perry. The Bloody Mary gathering costs $1,000 a person, but hey, there’s lots to do.

“Eat with Willie, drink with Willie, listen to Willie, get autographs from Willie, get silly with Willie, argue with Willie, dance with Willie — anything else depends on you and Willie,” the candidate adds.

Mr. Friedman is emerging as a serious candidate, though, with multiple campaign appearances, a clear agenda and perhaps a new appreciation of the polls. He pines to woo a certain demographic.

“Here’s the way I see it: Democrats plus independents equals victory,” he said. “I intend to run a serious campaign, one that grows the party. I intend to visit and listen to the voices of neglected communities, small towns, suburbs, and rural areas, often where Democrats have lately feared to tread. This, I feel, is the very definition of being a Democrat.”

DEMOGRAPHIC MOMENT

Public annoyance is huge. Out of President Obama’s Cabinet and congressional leaders, only Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gets a positive rating from the majority of Americans: 51 percent give her a favorable review. Everyone else - from Vice PresidentJoseph R. Biden Jr. to Senate Majority LeaderHarry Reid can’t get a kindly nod from more than a third of the public. Mr. Reid garnered 10 percent favorability. But Republicans suffer, too. Just 8 percent view Senate Minority LeaderMitch McConnell favorably - this according to a Harris Poll of 2,984 adults conducted Aug. 10-18.

RENDON PRESSES PRESS

No, the Rendon Group did not “sell” the Iraq war, “rate” journalists for the Defense Department or arrange for Iraqi publications to publish articles by American military personnel. Rendon had no relationship with the Iraqi National Congress or former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi before the war. In a point-by-point deconstruction of press claims released Thursday, the D.C.-based communications agency is striking back against “misleading and inaccurate information” reported in the mainstream media and some blogs.

Rendon reacted strongly to claims the agency had critically screened journalists for the Pentagon, as reported by Stars and Stripes in late August.

Rendon counters that it “has not screened, made decisions, recommendations with regard to who the military did or did not permit to conduct interviews or allow to embed … There is no evidence to support a charge that we directly or indirectly screened or contributed to the creation of a blacklist.”

Their rebuttal continues, “The vast majority of our work was focused on wider analysis of the impact of operations on national, regional and global media coverage against mission objectives as a function of content analysis. This was used to provide critical feedback on measures of effectiveness, attitudes and sentiments as reflected in the media (not directed towards the reporter), and to track and measure perceptions of violent extremist elements as reflected in the media (again not directed at the reporter).”

NOW HEAR THIS

Inside the Beltway recently suggested that William Shatner read the entire 1,018 pages of heath care reform legislation on prime-time television. Then we might get it. But wait. A group of 80 actors has read the entire bill aloud with feeling, and posted their soliloquies online for all to hear. For free.

“Health care reform is an issue that affects everyone, but it’s been difficult for many people to cut through the spin of various interests and learn directly what’s in the legislation,” says Kathleen Keesling, who designed the site. “Now there is a place where everyone can go to read and listen to the bill, educate themselves and ask the right questions.”

She had no trouble finding civically minded thespians to read the entirety of HR 3200 - the bedtime story. The audio files are fully downloadable, indexed like an audio book and is a very viable option for the sight-impaired. Should they win a medal? Well, sure - and maybe a Grammy as well. Here’s where to find it: www.hearthebill.org.

ASIDE O’ THE DAY

A source reveals new partisan shortspeak: in certain circles, “right-wing nut job” has now been shortened to “nut wing.” Not “wing nut” but “nut wing.” Apparently, they mean different things. Well, OK. The designation will be duly entered in the official Beltway lexicon.

POLL DU JOUR

• 59 percent of Americans say town-hall protesters reflect “the concerns of their neighbors.”

• 56 percent say that in town-hall meetings, it’s more important for congressmen to listen than to speak.

• 49 percent have a favorable opinion of health care reform protesters.

• 35 percent have an unfavorable view.

• 30 percent say protesters are phony imposters from special-interest groups.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted from Aug. 31 to Sept. 1.

Missives, asides, confidences to jharper@washington times.com or 202/636-3085.

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