- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 19, 2010

GLENN BECK ENVY

Is it his audience they want? His, uh, clout? Comedy Central hosts Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart appear obsessed with Fox News host Glenn Beck. Maybe they want to be Glenn Beck, then they’d get to be friends withSarah Palin. Maybe they are master opportunist sophomoric knucklehead marketeering newsmen. And maybe they’re just comedians. Whatever they are, the pair have worn their parody of “tea party” rallies down to a nub, a little stump of a thing.

Both now claim they’ll stage competing demonstrations on Oct. 30 as the ultimate satire of Mr. Beck’s recent rally to “Restore Honor,” a gathering with spiritual and political dynamics that was attended by thousands, with positive and palliative results. OK. It’s time for a call to the National Park Service - which controls public activities on the National Mall - to determine if the aforementioned gentlemen actually have filed the proper papers to stage their events. And without further ado, behold the dueling declarations of intent, from the Men Who Would Be Beck:

“America, the greatest country God ever gave man, was built on three bedrock principles: Freedom. Liberty. And fear - that someone might take our freedom and liberty. But now, there are dark, optimistic forces trying to take away our fear - forces with salt and pepper hair and way more Emmys than they need. They want to replace our fear with reason. But never forget. “Reason” is just one letter away from “treason.” Coincidence? Reasonable people would say it is, but America can’t afford to take that chance,” says the “Rev. Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A.”, on announcing his “March to Keep Fear Alive.”

“Ours is a rally for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs or are looking for jobs - not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority. If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence, we couldn’t. That’s sort of the point. Think of our event as Woodstock, but with the nudity and drugs replaced by respectful disagreement; the Million Man March, only a lot smaller. … Join us in the shadow of the Washington Monument. And bring your indoor voice. Or don’t. If you’d rather stay home, go to work, or drive your kids to soccer practice. Actually, please come anyway. Ask the sitter if she can stay a few extra hours, just this once,” counters Mr. Stewart in his pitch for the “Rally To Restore Sanity”.

THE BAD MINGLE

One more foray into comedy world, the dangerous side of it. On Friday, HBO host Bill Maher dug up an 11-year-old video clip of Christine O'Donnell chatting about her dalliance with witchcraft, causing much press hubbub. The U.S. Senate hopeful from Delaware ducked out of appearances on two Sunday talk shows, causing more press hubbub, and warranting praise from talk radio host Mark Levin and a challenge from Fox News analyst Karl Rove to explain herself. Ms. O'Donnell laughed it all off, meanwhile.

In the big picture, the video, says Entertainment Weekly columnist Ken Tucker, served to illustrate her earlier personal experiences that would one day lead to straight-laced conservative ideology.

“Maher was using the clip to do his job. Make fun of anyone he considers ridiculous, conservative or liberal. Rove was using the clip in the hopes of dashing O'Donnell’s chances of remaining a viable candidate,” Mr. Tucker continues.

“Once again, the news media is all too willing to mingle with the entertainment media, with the result that what should provoke nothing more than a derisive laugh - which was Maher’s goal - suddenly becomes a ‘serious’ news story, which is how it’s been played on many of the network and cable news shows. Now more than ever, we need to rally around the idea of restoring sanity - oh, wait, that’s what Jon Stewart’s trying to do, isn’t it?,” Mr. Tucker adds.

ON THE RADAR

Intriguing alliances? You betcha. The Tea Party Patriots - a grass-roots coalition that claims 2,800 local chapters and more than 15 million supporters - will hold court at the National Press Club on Tuesday. Coordinators Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin will make an announcement regarding “a significant donation to the group,” spokesman Randy Lewis tells Inside the Beltway.

INSTA-SAGE

C. O'Donnell strategy: time’s limited; use it 2 connect w/local voters whom you’ll be serving vs appeasing nat’l media seeking ur destruction”

Sarah Palin’s advice to Christine O'Donnell, in a Tweet filed Sunday.

NOT ‘BUBBA THE MUSICAL’

“Billy Blythe.”

Title of a new 1950s-era operetta based on the life of former President Bill Clinton. Auditions were held Saturday at a Little Rock church.

NEWSWEAK

“The digital world is where the action is in my line of work, and The Huffington Post is at the center of the new paradigm.”

Howard Fineman, on his decision to leave his position as senior Washington correspondent for Newsweek after 30 years and join Arianna Huffington’s gaggle of journalists and bloggers. Mr. Fineman will cover national politics.

POLL DU JOUR

- 58 percent of Americans say the nation needs a third political party because Republican and Democratic parties do a “poor job.”

- 62 percent of tea party supporters and 51 percent of tea party opponents agree.

- 61 percent of liberals and 54 percent of conservatives agree that a third party is needed.

- 47 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A USA Today/Gallup Poll of 1,021 adults conducted Aug. 27 to 30 and released Friday.

c Chatter, clatter and press releases to jharper@ washingtontimes.com.