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Washington Sketch

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The Washington Post's Dana Milbank teams with washingtonpost.com's Akira Hakuta to provide a behind-the-scenes look at government proceedings in Washington.

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Dana Milbank
Washington Post Columnist
Thursday, August 28, 2008; 1:00 PM

Post columnist Dana Milbank, who serves as the capital's foremost critic of political theater in his Washington Sketch columns and videos, was online from the Democratic National Convention Thursday, August 28 to take your questions and comments about the things politicians say -- and the absurd ways they find to say them.

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The transcript follows.

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Dana Milbank: Hello from the Pepsi Center in Denver, where I am drinking a Diet Coke.
Actually I am just outside the Pepsi Center, in an enormous tent built for the use of the media during the convention. It is a filthy and unhealthy place, and that has nothing to do with Chris Cillizza being here. We have plywood floors and outhouses; the outhouses had been equipped with hand sanitizer, but that has run out, so the per-capita bacteria count must be about what you'd find in a CDC lab.
But that doesn't matter, because we are shortly leaving for Invesco field, to watch Obama accept the nomination on a platform the McCainiacs have cleverly dubbed the Barackopolis. In fact, the columns are Doric, so I think a more specific name for it would be the Barackenon.
Please send your questions, on politics or ancient architecture. And also please check out the latest Akira Hakuta masterpiece, a Washington Sketch video that has just been posted:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2008/08/28/VI2008082801713.html?hpid=topnews

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Washington, DC: Dana, pinch the tip! PINCH THE TIP!!!

washingtonpost.com: Washington Sketch Video: Recycling the Way to Party Unity

Dana Milbank:
This is a disparaging reference to the Washington Sketch video earlier in the week, in which your correspondent had difficulty putting a prophylactic on a banana.

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Washington, DC: Dana,

Come on... Al Jazeera like Fox News? Give me a break. Al Jazeera isn't a new station. The don't report facts, they report propaganda as fact and brainwash an entire region. Do you know that their English station is different from their Arabic station, because they purposely tone it down in English? This comparison is crazy...

Dana Milbank: You are right. The comparison, in today's Sketch about the townsfolk of Golden, Colo., trying to kick out al Jazeera, was gratuitous and meanspirited.
I hereby apologize to al Jazeera.

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New York: Dana, I'm amazed at how you manage to find these small pockets of bigots around the U.S. Is this a concerted search, or are you just incredibly lucky?

Dana Milbank: Some people have gaydar. I am a bigot magnet.

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Cleveland: Dana, When are you and Olbermann going to kiss and make up? We miss you on the show.

Dana Milbank: I would much rather kiss Campbell Brown. Or even Anderson Cooper. But probably not Lou Dobbs.

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Chattanooga, TN: I fear the banana video did nothing to advance your cause with the Pulitzer people. Whatever happened to the good old days, when all we had to worry about were black site fart jokes?

Dana Milbank: Thanks for chatting, Chattanooga.
On the contrary, I believe I will be up for a public-service Pulitzer for my work to limit sexually transmitted diseases spread from fruit to people.

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Columbus, GA: Mr. Milbank, do you know who was responsible for featuring the song "Chain of Fools" before Bill Clinton's speech and "Addicted to Love" right after? May I spin a conspiracy theory out of this?

Dana Milbank: I missed that but I am very happy that we now have it on the record. Just before Hillary came out on Tuesday afternoon for her walkabout in the Pepsi Center, they played, "I can see clearly now, the rain has gone."

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Arlington, VA: Hi Dana, thanks for taking questions from Denver! I've been an Obama supporter from the beginning, I've volunteered for and donated to the campaign, and defended him in pretty much every attack. But when I saw the stage for tonight at Invesco... even I think the columns are overkill. Whose decision was that? What were they thinking??

Dana Milbank:
Do not lose hope, Arlington. I am still betting that John Ashcroft will show up and cover the columns with a blue curtain.
Seems the decision to have the Greek Temple was made before Obama acquired the whole celebrity problem. It's apparently supposed to evoke the Lincoln Memorial, which itself is a bit over the top.

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Louisville, Ky.: Dana, I loved your sketch from Golden today. As someone who has lived in small towns in Kentucky and in New Mexico, I felt like you perfectly captured the humor, anger, and perhaps ignorance, that is common among the most vocal people. How did you find out about the Al-Jazeera presence in Golden? Did you immediately know it was something you should head toward? How were you received? Did you get any anger directed toward you? I think this is the best sketch I've read in a few weeks (and that is really a big compliment).

Dana Milbank: Thanks, Louisville.
I got the tip from the Post's Vince Bzdek, formerly of Denver. I do not know whether or not he is a biker. But as soon as I heard "al-Jazeera" and "biker bar" I decided that it was much more important than anything Joe Biden or Bill Clinton could possibly say.

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San Diego, Calif.: Do you think that Obama's decision to hold tonight's speech in a football stadium instead of a hockey rink will damage U.S./Canadian relations, or just cause a rift in the time/space continuum?

Dana Milbank:
Good point.
Also there is a large mustang one one side of Mile High, so he'll probably run afoul of the PETA folks too.

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New York, NY: Hi, Dana. Is there any election the Democrats can manage not to screw up?

Dana Milbank: The Democrats are highly resourceful. Given ample time and resources, I believe they are capable of screwing up almost any election.

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Atlanta: I agree with Columbus on the songs! I thought I was the only one that noticed. This isn't the first time politicians (and advertisers) have used songs that they obviously have not listened to in their entirety. Think Reagan with "Born in the USA." Or Hillary with "Captain Jack." They did "Pink Houses" last night, too, which is not exactly a hopeful song, unless you take the chorus completely out of context. So, who picks the tunes anyway? What are they thinking?

Dana Milbank: Can any readers out there think of what would be the most unhelpful songs to play before and after the Obama speech tonight?
Here's Clinton's Addicted to Love, to get you thinking:
Your lights are on, but you're not home
Your mind is not your own
Your heart sweats, your body shakes
Another kiss is what it takes
You cant sleep, you cant eat
There's no doubt, you're in deep
Your throat is tight, you cant breathe
Another kiss is all you need
Whoa, you like to think that you're immune to the stuff, oh
Yeah
Its closer to the truth to say you cant get enough, you
Know you're
Gonna have to face it, you're addicted to love

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Los Angeles, Ca.: Why do you suppose it's become all about "how things look" rather than what anyone actually says or does? With standards like these Heidi Klum should run for President -- don't you think?

Dana Milbank: If Heidi Klum runs for president I'm going to be an embedded reporter.
The parties, by turning these conventions into made-for-tv circuses, long ago made all about looks rather than substance. So we're just judging them by their own standards.

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Bloomington, Ind: Dana, you're not a bigot magnet, you're just an astute journalist with a seriously weird and wonderfully creative mind. Shailagh Murray didn't show for her discussion today. Did you keep her up late last night, or what? Is she in trouble with the post.com folks?

Dana Milbank: Come to think of it that DID look like Shailagh rolling out with Kanye West's entourage after the Recording Industry Party at about 2 am.

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Rockville, Maryland: Songs:

Jimi Hendrix - Machine Gun

Dana Milbank: Evil man make me kill ya
Evil man make you kill me

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San Diego, CA: Now you've got me all screwed up. I thought it was a "soul patch" not a "chin beard." Does it depend on the wearer? Is a biker/biker bar owner to ... something to associate himself with the Apolo Anton Ohno look? Maybe "chin beard" predates "soul patch"? Is a soul patch bushier? These are important questions, and I need to know the answers!

Dana Milbank:
That'll have to wait for tomorrow. I'm on the Doric vs. Ionic columns today.

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Washington, DC: Any idea what time Obama's speech is tonight? I'm going to the Nats game but I want to make it home in time for the speech (when you're 25.5 games out of first place you can leave early).

Dana Milbank:
He begins speaking just after 10 pm eastern time, shortly after he dons the purple robe and is fed grapes by eunuchs.

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Ocala, FLA: Song before and after Obama's acceptance? The theme from "Shaft," maybe?

Dana Milbank: Can ya dig it?
Who's the cat that won't cop out
when there's danger all about
(Shaft!)

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In order to form a more perfect bumper sticker: Barack Obama chose a running mate whose first and last names each have the same number of letters as his own. They'll look real purty on all the bumper stickers, buttons, etc.

So does this mean John McCain needs to choose Mitt Romney, so as not to suffer from asymmetric campaign materials?

Dana Milbank: Roll Call is reporting that the Secret Service has swept Romney's sister's home in Michigan. Intriguing. . .
In case you missed it, the aforementioned Fox News has already posed the question:
Obama/Biden
Osama bin Laden:
Coincidence?

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Swag envy: Did you read that list o' swag that each California delegate got in their giftbag? Are you jealous?

washingtonpost.com: Highlight: 14. A fortune ball. Okay, that's cool. I just asked it, "Does Obama really think he has to compromise on offshore drilling?" it answered "don't bet on it." Oh, I feel better now.

Dana Milbank:
A friend of mine in a Western delegation says he received a U.S. flag inside a plastic bag that says "Made in China."

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Bad Song for Obama's Entrance: Kanye West - Gold Digger

Dana Milbank:
get down girl go head get down (I gotta leave)

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Minneapolis, MN: Hmm. Heidi Klum not a native citizen = can't be president according to constitution.

I've already submitted a request to both my state government to start the bottom up approach, and my congressman to start the top-down approach to get the Heidi Klum amendment into play. Let's not waste any time here!

Arnold Schwarzenegger? No. Jennifer Granholm? No. But, I think we can all agree that Heidi Klum is the president we need!

Dana Milbank: You're addicted to love, Minneapolis.
(And yes I will, in answer to other questions, be visiting the Larry Craig memorial men's room at the airport during next week's convention.)

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washingtonpost.com: I am going to a Liz Phair concert tonight and "Never Said Nothing" might be useful for conventions and rallies:


I never said nothing, I never said nothing, I never said nothing, I never said nothing

You don't know where you heard it, Don't know who's spreadin' it 'round, All I know is I'm clean as a whistle baby, I didn't utter a sound

- Elizabeth

Dana Milbank:
Thank you, Elizabeth Terry.
That DEFINITELY wouldn't be a good theme song for Biden.

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Fairfax County VA : You do realize that what you did with that banana would have gotten you prosecuted in Virginia?

Any sort of oral action with fruit is considered immoral here, even if you're married.

Dana Milbank:
Thankfully, we take a more laissez-faire attitude toward our produce here in Denver.
But I will not try this at the Minneapolis airport next week.

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Re: Obama's Opening Song: I would think that something by Queen or maybe a power ballad by an 80's hair band would be better, wouldn't you?

Dana Milbank:
Another Chat Bites the Dust.
Thanks for tuning in. Talk to you, virtually, from Minneapolis next week.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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