Pity the good people of the United Kingdom, who have so much at stake in the U.S. presidential election -- a war in Iraq, the future of the transatlantic alliance -- but no say in picking the next president. Now the Guardian newspaper, Britain's left-leaning daily, has come up with a novel solution: It is urging its readers to send letters to the voters of Clark County, Ohio, outside Dayton.
Calling it "Operation Clark County," the Guardian has set up a Web page in which readers can click a button to "Get a Voter" from a voter registration list that the newspaper bought. "In the spirit of the Declaration of Independence's pledge to show 'a decent respect to the opinions of mankind,' we have come up with a unique way for non-Americans to express your views on the policies and candidates in this election to some of the people best placed to decide its outcome," the Guardian says. It is also offering helpful advice on how to get around U.S. laws preventing foreigners from contributing to political campaigns.
The paper is a wee bit patronizing, describing Ohio as lacking in history, glamour, charm or eccentricity. "It is flat. It is temperate: it is the heartland," the Guardian reports. But it urges readers to "be courteous" in writing to the unsuspecting voters of Clark County, who are registered as independents. "Remember that it's unusual to receive a lobbying letter from someone in another country," the Guardian writes. "Think about how you would respond if you received a letter from Ohio urging you to vote for Tony Blair."
The four best letter writers will win a trip to Clark County.
Republicans have worked themselves into a lather over John F. Kerry's mention of the sexual orientation of Vice President Cheney's daughter Mary, and Kerry's subsequent refusal to apologize.
The Democrats, in turn, have worked themselves into a purposeful lather over Treasury Secretary John W. Snow. In Ohio on Monday, Snow said, according to the tiny Findlay Courier: "Claims like the one that [President] Bush will be the first president to end a term with fewer jobs than when he started are nothing more than 'myths.' "
This produced gleeful outrage from the Kerry campaign, which released an ad in Ohio on Thursday proclaiming: "Over the last four years, we've lost over 230,000 jobs in our state. Now George Bush sends his treasury secretary to Ohio to tell us these job losses are a 'myth.' " Even before the ad was rolled out, Snow did some backing and filling, releasing a statement saying his words were "misconstrued," adding: "I regret the loss of any job."
Meantime, another fit of moral pique has been induced by the National Jewish Democratic Council, which posted an animated video on its Web site in which an old Jewish lady, "Bubbie," vanquishes Bush and his top aides in a haunted castle. To goofy music, Bubbie, complaining in a Yiddish accent about her Medicare premiums, knocks Cheney's head off with her handbag and even takes on a Zell Miller monster, Godzella. When Bush allies Paul D. Wolfowitz and Richard N. Perle, both Jews, tell Bubbie, "We're one of you," she retorts: "I'm so ashamed."
The Republican National Committee was offended, naturally. It circulated a quote from the Anti-Defamation League's Abraham Foxman. "I'm saddened, disappointed and offended," it said. "It pits Christians against Jews, it uses stereotypes we should know better about projecting."
Ira Forman, executive director of the NJDC, said of the RNC's criticism: "They really need to lighten up. It is a cartoon."
Film's Rating Angers Conservatives
The producers of "Celsius 41.11" -- a conservative rejoinder to Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" -- are boiling after the Motion Picture Association of America assigned an "R" rating to the film last week. The Hollywood trade group cited two instances of profanity and a graphic image of Saddam Hussein's torture of an Iraqi. The film's producers said in a statement that the rating "isn't consistent with other films in theaters." The producers are appealing the rating, in what is just the latest dispute between the association and Washington conservatives.
The GOP-controlled Congress sharply reduced subsidies to the industry in the new tax bill, a gesture some called punishment for the MPAA's recent hiring of Democratic lobbyist Dan Glickman as its president.
Tell Us What You Really Think Dept.
"Total ass, slimeball."
-- Former president George H.W. Bush, giving his opinion of Michael Moore to Maine's WCSH-TV.