- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2003

Tony meets Homer

Just two days after President Bush dined with average blokes at the Dun Cow Inn in Sedgefield, England, British Prime Minister Tony Blair reached out to Middle America with a brief appearance on a popular U.S. television show.

In Sunday night’s episode of “The Simpsons,” Mr. Blair greets the cartoon family upon their arrival at London’s Heathrow Airport. “Hello, welcome to the United Kingdom,” the prime minister says to Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and mute Maggie.

Asked by the precocious Bart why Mr. Blair would greet “lowlifes like us,” the prime minister, who taped his segment in April, says: “Because I want to encourage all the world to see the beauty of 21st century Britain.”

“Would an American dollar encourage you to leave us alone?” Homer asks, waving a $1 bill. “No, but thank you,” Mr. Blair says, grabbing the dollar and putting it into his suit pocket.

“Tony, I mean, Mr. Prime Minister,” Marge says, “what should we see first?”

“There’s so much to see here: Parliament, Stratford on Avon, the white cliffs of Dover, oh, and you Americans love castles, there’s a huge one in Edinburgh, the city where I was born.”

In a classic Homerian nonsequitur, Homer says: “The place where I was born is now a gator farm,” to which Mr. Blair responds enthusiastically: “Smashing.”

Lisa then asks if the prime minister can give her family a personal tour of England. Mr. Blair, a self-admitted “Simpsons” junkie who watches the show with his wife and children, responds: “I’d love to, but I’m late for an appointment: I’m greeting a lovely Dutch couple at Gate 23. Cheerio.” He then straps on a jet pack and buzzes down an airport corridor.

Not always up on the latest news, Homer deadpans: “Wow, I can’t believe we met Mr. Bean.”

The show also featured another great line from Homer, who gets stuck in a “roundabout” (traffic circle). After hours of driving in circles, he declares, “I’m going to act the way Americans act best — unilaterally.”

A Fox spokeswoman said Mr. Blair’s appearance was the first on the show by a world leader.

That sinking feeling

More bad news for Sen. John Kerry: A new poll shows rival presidential candidate Howard Dean holding a nine percentage point lead in the Democratic senator’s home state of Massachusetts.

Mr. Dean would pummel the home state senator 33 percent to 24 percent if voting were held today, according to a Boston Herald poll released yesterday.

Worse for Mr. Kerry, Mr. Dean leads there by riding the longtime senator’s supposed core base — liberal Democrats and older voters, the newspaper said.

The stunning result speaks to the strength of the Dean campaign and his core messages, said Herald pollster R. Kelly Myers.

The Herald poll of 424 probable Democratic primary voters, taken by RKM Research and Communications Wednesday through Friday, is the first to show Mr. Kerry outright losing his home state. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.

Wesley Clark drew 7 percent, followed by Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut at 4 percent and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri at 3 percent. The other candidates polled at 2 percent or lower.

Loose lips

“On the eve of a Tom Brokaw-moderated Democratic presidential debate, senior Kerry advisers recklessly strategized over refreshments at the Hotel Fort Des Moines — believing they were out of earshot to anyone who would care!” Internet newshound Matt Drudge wrote yesterday at his Web site (www.drudgereport.com).

“But as the caucus nears, even stripped Iowa cornstalks have ears,” Mr. Drudge said.

“The campaign advisers spoke frankly at the hotel’s bar on Sunday night about the state of the White House race and their frustrations of living in the shadow of Howard Dean.

“All of Dean’s money is coming from Republicans, one member of Kerry’s kitchen cabinet told the group. Another adviser asked if that had been researched. No one had an answer.

“The staff said Kerry should — and will — use a motorcycle for campaigning more often.

“The advisers discussed how Kerry should stop trying to defend his Iraq vote and develop how Kerry’s the real antiwar protester, not Dean.

“The staffers talked about doing an ad where they would contrast Kerry’s antiwar activism with Dean as a draft-dodging ski bum. The ad would feature vault clips of Kerry speaking at antiwar rallies and testifying on Capitol Hill vs. Dean statements on how he could have served in the military, but decided not to.

“The Kerry staffers talked about the possibility of doing a documentary on the campaign, like the one Spike Jonze did with Gore. One frustrated operative said it would help with Kerry’s ‘aloof’ image problem.

“The advisers carelessly talked about how thick Kerry’s accent used to be.

“Kerry did the thick accent when cameras were around to sound like JFK, laughed one senior staffer.

“(In the spirit of the holiday season the Drudge Report will not reveal the names of those in attendance.)”

Ad contest

Pop singer Moby has teamed up with Jonathan Soros — son of billionaire George Soros — in launching an Internet competition for a TV commercial attacking President Bush.

The contest, called “Bush in 30 seconds,” is open to the general public and will be judged by a celebrity panel including actors Jack Black and Janeane Garafalo, REM frontman Michael Stipe and documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, Agence France-Presse reports.

“Anyone can make and submit a 30-second TV ad that is somehow based around ‘the truth about George Bush,’” Moby wrote on his Web site, www.Moby.com.

Ten finalists will be presented to the judges, with the winning commercial to be broadcast before Mr. Bush’s January State of the Union address, the wire service said.

The competition is being organized with the help of MoveOn.org — the left-wing group that helped coordinate nationwide protests against the war in Iraq.

Heeding complaints

The government has freed 20 prisoners from its high-security prison for foreign terror suspects in Cuba, bringing the total released to more than 80, and plans to send dozens more home soon, officials said yesterday.

The next batch, however, probably will get out of the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay prison only if their governments promise to continue to imprison and investigate them, two senior U.S. officials told the Associated Press.

The latest releases stem from negotiations that were sped up after American allies complained the Bush administration was taking too long to resolve the cases of hundreds of foreigners captured in the global war on terrorism, another official said. The prisoners have been held without charges and without access to lawyers, some for nearly two years.

The Pentagon said yesterday it had transferred 20 prisoners on Friday, bringing to 88 the number who have left the facility since it opened in January 2002.

On Sunday, the military flew about 20 new prisoners into Guantanamo, most of them captured in the continued fighting in Afghanistan, one official said. That means the number in Cuba remains about 660, although the government won’t give an exact count.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com

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