- The Washington Times - Monday, July 19, 2010

Note to strategists: Kisses are good for ratings and voters still pay attention to how a politician treats his wife. Al Gore’s adorability rating has hit the lowest point in a dozen years: 44 percent of Americans now give Mr. Gore a thumbs up, according to a Gallup poll conducted July 8-11, a few days after the former vice president announced he had separated from Tipper Gore, his wife of four decades.

Mr. Gore’s highest favorability rating? According to Gallup’s historic records, he enjoyed a 64 percent favorability rating according to a survey conducted Aug. 18-19, 2000 - a day after he delivered a lengthy and romantic kiss to Mrs. Gore on the stage of the Democratic National Convention.

ALL IN THE BREW

Two major “tea party” groups may be feuding with each other over racism and public propriety, with talk of expulsion and a national rift.But Rep. Michele Bachmann garnered approval Monday to form the Tea Party Caucus, meant to remind lawmakers that Americans pine for fundamental constitutional principles - and to listen carefully to discouraged constituents.

House Administration Committee Chairman Robert A. Brady, Pennsylvania Democrat, informed Mrs. Bachmann that her caucus was a go, and in compliance with “applicable regulations.” The Minnesota Republican announced the news with tweets, followed by Rep. Mike Pence, who proclaimed he was, essentially, the first member.

“You betcha,” said the Indiana Republican.

LISTING LEFT

A tough job, but somebody has to do it. Warner Todd Huston, founder of Publius Forum, is midway in his quest to name the Top-10 most liberally biased journalists in America. He started last week with Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times at No. 10, followed by Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press at No. 9, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in eighth place, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman at seventh and CNN’s Rick Sanchez at sixth.

On Monday, Mr. Huston named the Atlanta Journal-Constitutions Cynthia Tucker as our fifth most biased American journalist, noting, “unlike the other left-wingers that merely hate conservative Americans, Cynthia Tucker seems to hate all of us.”

Any revelations about the state of the news media?

“I’ve learned that these journos really do think they are unbiased. Amanpour was the perfect example when she insisted no one out there could detect her bias in her on-air work. She is so entirely blind to just how obvious her bias is that it really strikes one dumb to realize she thinks she is being nonpartisan in her reporting. Humans have an interesting ability to fool themselves easier than they fool others sometimes,” Mr. Huston tells Inside the Beltway.

“Are things any worse? That, I don’t know. I think its just as bad as it’s been for decades; however, we are starting to see the media change in small ways due to the influence of right-of-center TV, radio, bloggers, and websites that have been driving the news in certain instances. So, while the ‘Old Media’ may have a propensity to extolling the left’s virtues, they are no longer entirely impervious to stories from the right,” he adds.

WHAT GOES ON

A flock of “tea party” activists stood outside the Sheraton Hotel in Philadelphia on Monday, waving signs that read “Fire Pelosi” and “Take back Congress.”

Inside, 200 well-heeled Democrats ponied up either $1,000 to enter, $5,000 for the “VIP reception” or $10,000 per couple for “best seating” at a fundraising luncheon attended by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for congressional hopeful Bryan Lentz,running in the 7th District.

What did they get for that chunk of change? In the VIP mingle room, the generous donors could choose from pear and brie with almond, jumbo shrimp or chicken satay with ginger apricot glaze. The lunch featured Boston bibb and romaine hearts salad with strawberries, a boneless breast of chicken with lemon butter, orzo and asparagus spears and ultimate chocolate cake with whipped cream and berry garnish.

DOG-EARED ARGUMENT

Did Bo Obama arrive at the first family’s weekend vacation spot in Maine, as the lone passenger aboard his own aircraft? The thought that Bo left a fat carbon paw print rankled Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey, who placed the canine extravagance under the “Obamateurism of the Day” category, while Holly Robichard of the Boston Herald growled, “I guess no one in the White House heard of a kennel or a dog sitter.”

But President Obama’s defenders were at the ready, most notably at Snopes.com. The online rumor repository has declared the Bo rumor officially “false,” noting that President Franklin D. Roosevelt blamed “Republican fiction writers” for a rumor that the president once sent a Navy destroyer to pick up his dog Fala in 1944.

Sixty-six years later, Snopes blames a lone account in the Waterville Morning Sentinel, a small Maine newspaper, for the dog confusion, and added a baroque explanation:

“Bo flew to Maine in a different plane than the rest of the first family not because he was part of a special canine-only flight, but because the local airport (Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton, Maine) was too small to accommodate the Boeing 747-200B in which the president usually travels. Therefore, the Obamas flew to Maine in a Gulfstream jet (which seats six to 19 passengers) while Bo was loaded onto an earlier flight which carried a contingent of presidential aides and staff members.”

Moral for the White House: Next time, take the Winnebago.

POLL DU JOUR

*62 percent of U.S. voters expect health care reform legislation to increase the federal deficit.

*61 percent now expect the cost of health care to go up under the new law.

*56 percent favor a repeal of health care law.

*54 percent say the law will be “bad for the country.”

*53 percent say the quality of health care will become worse under the law.

Source: Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted July 16-17.

*Small asides and big announcements to jharper@washington times.com.