This caught my eye today:

Why in the world won’t Ron Paul go on Glenn’s show? He’s got millions more radio listeners and TV viewers than watch the debates and many of those folks probably agree with much of what Dr. No believes. Let’s hear from some of our resident Paul Peeps on why they think he’s avoided Glenn’s shows.

I wouldn’t dream of ludicrously and arrogantly taking any measure of credit for CNN/YouTube’s debate moderator being anyone other than Wolf Blitzer, but Anderson Cooper certainly did a fine job. Generally, he made sure that candidates answered the questions – something he said was owed to all the people who sent so much time asking questions – and added a colloquial charm. He prefaced Mitt Romney’s answer to a question about farm subsidies with a warning, that “a lot of folks in Iowa [are] interested in this answer.” Cooper most amusing moment came after Fred Thompson’s ad was shown, which, rather than highlight Thomson, simply attacked Romney and Mike Huckabee. Cooper’s informal, “Senator Thompson, what’s up with that?” drew a good bit of laughter. Overall, the event, unlike some of its torturous predecessors, was fun to watch, and actually lived up to its “debate” status, as candidates spent time arguing back and forth on a number of points. Now that that’s out of the way, on to the candidates…

Mike Huckabee, thanks to his recent rise in Iowa polls, enjoyed more face time than he had in previous debates. With, he claimed, people more worried about an audit than a mugging, Huck called for an end to the IRS, proposing to replace it with the so-called “fair tax”, a federal retail sales tax. He slickly tried to explain his way out of in-state tuition for illegals, but no amount of sugar coating was going to keep Mitt Romney from blasting Huck for having fought for the “right to give scholarships to illegals.” When asked, “What would Jesus do?” about the death penalty, Huck eloquently explained the difficult decisions he had to make before finally suggesting that Jesus was too smart to run for public office. Huck somehow equated being gay as bad conduct in the military, a suggestion which reeked of intolerance. Finally, Huck seemed ok with government spending on a human mission to Mars, provided Hillary Clinton was on the first rocket.

Ron Paul again won the all the CNN exit polls for best performance, most knowledgeable, etc., but despite his recent upswing in the early primary states, he was given his usual, i.e. minimal, face time. Asked if he believed in a conspiracy theory of a North American government, he simply stated that with trade agreements such as NAFTA, eminent domain claiming huge amounts of property for an international roadway conspiracy, and having witnessed the European Union come into existence, that a threat does exist to our national sovereignty, and that he opposes any move toward more international government bureaucracies. After John McCain said that the Republicans came to change government, and the government changed them, Paul stated unequivocally that Washington had not changed him, and that he had never once voted for a tax increase. He argued that lowering taxes is only half the solution, with the necessary complement being a reduction in spending. As for which government bureaucracies should be slashed, Paul cited the Departments of Education, Energy, and Homeland Security, which he called our biggest bureaucracy ever. He argued that out national defense would become stronger by changing our interventionist foreign policy, reiterating that we should bring the troops home. Paul argued that despite the moral question of occupying another country that we should be giving back to them, he stated that we can’t afford to keep up such wars, because as tax payer dollars are used to blow up and rebuild the same bridges in Iraq, our own bridges and infrastructure are crumbling. Finally, he likened Iraq to Vietnam, which is now a friend, a result, he says, achievable in peace that was never possible in 20 years of war.

John McCain spent time with troops over the holiday, and said that they had urged him to let them win in Iraq. He then challenged Ron Paul by claiming that isolationist policies had caused World War II. Paul pounced, citing the difference between isolationism and his policy of non-intervention, and proved the popularity of his position by pointing out that he had received the more campaign contributions from active duty personnel than any other candidate. Oddly, when asked how he would repair America’s image in the eyes of the Muslim world, McCain said he would continue the surge of troops, which he insisted was working. McCain received a groan of disbelief from the audience when he said that they in the government had never proposed amnesty for illegals, arguing instead that voters didn’t trust them after failures in Katrina and Iraq and the inability to reign in spending. He said, as president, he would veto every pork barrel spending bill that crossed his desk and would make the authors famous. He later hit the replay button, and said the exact same thing. McCain argued against Huckabee’s fair tax plan, which he claimed would tax some people up to 30%, and then bested Romney in a challenge over his wishy washy waterboarding stance. McCain insisted that we, as a nation, take the high road, and never allow torture to be used.

Surprisingly, Fred Thompson decided to make a public appearance, and was at the debate. He casually chatted about issues and candidates, hoping to pass by on the strength of his famous charm. He mentioned that, “surprisingly,” Romney had switched his position on amnesty for illegals. Thompson suggested that sometimes a decision to hire someone can, in retrospect, be a bad idea, a veiled reference Rudy Giuliani hiring to Bernard Kerik, though Thompson could have been referring to his own apparent decision of employing Richard Nixon’s makeup artist for the debate. In a weird moment, when asked which programs he would cut, he instead talked about saving Social Security and creating private Medicare accounts which would be matched by the government. Each candidate was allowed a 30-second ad spot, and Thompson’s was an attack on Romney and Huckabee. When questioned, he innocently stated that he just wanted to give his buddies on stage some more air time. Fred questioned Giuliani on his past support of gun control in New York City, but then lost the argument by going too far in comparing crime-ridden, no-guns-allowed Washington DC to New York, where guns are allowed and where crime decreased substantially under Rudy. Thompson didn’t win any extra friends in Hollywood when he stated that the number one focus should be to overturn Roe v Wade. Probably Fred’s best moment was when a question was asked by an animated caricature of Dick Cheney. Fred said he breathed a sigh of relief when he realized that it was Cheney and not him.

Mitt Romney seemed to spend all his time picking fights or responding to attacks. He started the debate by jumping on Giuliani for running an amnesty city, but then had to defend himself against accusations that he had personally employed illegal workers in his mansion. Mitt smacked Huck into reality by claiming that the money the Huck used for scholarships and tuition was, as tax payer money, not his to use on illegals. Romney said, as governor, he found a way to have universal health care without increasing government, which was contradictory, but in this debate he wised up, mentioning it once and then leaving it alone. Romney said he supported farm subsidies, because they were doing it in Brazil and Europe, which seemed to leave him open for attack until Rudy agreed with him. Romney’s odd solution to reduce black-on-black crime was to “get more moms and dads” and, perhaps more usefully, to ensure proper education and to increase state police. Mitt then went on about how he had increased state police, though some crimes increased while others decreased, and then threw in something about tripling a DNA facility. He said he believed every word of the Bible, as it is the “word of God”. When attacked on his abortion flip-flop, he stated that he was wrong and had made a mistake, which might have been more convincing if he hadn’t changed positions on so many other issues as well, leading viewers to wonder on which other issues he will eventually realize he is wrong. He did finish strongly, saying that there was nothing sweeter than when his Red Sox beat the Yankees after being down 3-0 in a best of 7 series.

Rudy Giuliani directly debated Romney and Thompson, usually coming out on top. He cited his record of significant crime reduction in New York City, which was unlike Romney’s “mixed record” on crime. He corrected Thompson on his gun control views, stating that he favored restrictions on gun ownership for criminals and the mentally challenged. Rudy also cited his fiscally conservative record as mayor, and suggested that government spending could easily be reduced by simply not replacing half the workers on the government payroll when they retire. Unlike Romney, Rudy said he would not sign a hypothetical federal ban on abortion (following a hypothetical overturn of Roe v Wade), claiming that it should be left up to the individual states. Rudy also differed from Mitt and Huck by saying he did not believe the Bible was entirely literal, but rather that it was interpretive and certainly contained allegories. Rudy said he would stay on the offensive against Muslim extremists, though that didn’t seem to answer the question of how he would improve the Muslim world’s image of the US. Asked why blacks should support him, Rudy argued for school vouchers, so parents would not be forced to send their kids to bad and unsafe schools. He also preached reducing welfare, which he did as mayor, to get more people jobs, and with that, hope and a future. Rudy chastised McCain, saying that the line item veto was unconstitutional, not according to the senator, but according to the Supreme Court. Rudy’s 30-second video clip was amusing, claiming that Rudy had battled crime, overspending and “King Kong”, and that Hillary Clinton had called him a “$%#!” He defended rooting for the Red Sox, a logical argument, as he is an American League fan, but, more important than that, he said, he counted 4 Yankee World Championships among his accomplishments as mayor.

Duncan Hunter stuck to his strategy of not arguing with anyone, and bringing up a few flag-waving points. “I built that fence!” he bellowed, which resulted in significant crime reduction in San Diego, and pledged, as president, to compete the already approved fence across the rest of Mexican border. Hunter stated that China is cheating on trade and using the surplus to arm itself, so he urged everyone to “buy American…this Christmas season”. He said he would never apologize for the US, as we had helped defend, feed and heal so many other countries. He finished poorly, suggesting that forcing conservative Christians to work with homosexuals in the military was wrong, apparently ignoring the moral problems inherent in such a segregationist ideal.

Tom Tancredo again took time to acknowledge that he doesn’t get much time to talk. He stated he had the highest rating from conservative and tax reform groups. He refused to accept the oft-stated theory in support of illegals, arguing that there is no such thing as a job an American won’t take. He called for a change in trade relations with China. An introduction to the debate, a song by a YouTuber, stated that Tancredo wants the border fence, so Tom didn’t have to bother mentioning it. Tancredo pounced on Huckabee after Huck had ok’ed a mission to Mars, stating that while so many people say they are conservative, they are more than willing to spend more money on new programs. He argued that there are some things we can not afford.

Make no mistake, reports that Hillary–or her peeps–planted a question at last night’s GooberTuber debate will forever overshadow the debate itself. Few are talking about who won or lost, instead they’re buzzing about CNN using at least four questions last night from declared democrats. Michelle Malkin has the most comprehension coverage.

Believe it or not I feel for Anderson Cooper. There’s no way he personally knew that General Kerr was on the “LGBT Americans For Hillary Steering Committee”. Love or hate CNN, Cooper is easily their most fair, unbiased journalist, and it’s inconceivable that he would have supported the question being allowed. But what’s worse is that Kerr was actually in the audience and got additional face time. Rest assured Cooper is fuming right now and there are suits in the Time Warner Building feeling his wrath.

Anyone still on the fence about CNN’s reputation for having an agenda can officially hop off.

A new Associated Press story by Andrew DeMillo appears to have been penned by the Romney or Thompson campaigns. The piece reads like either a paid-for hit job or an op/ed that belongs on the opinion page. Whether you’re a member of Huck’s Army or not, this sort of language in an “unbiased” AP article should trouble you:

The Republican presidential candidate has plenty to champion from his 10 1/2 years as governor – including school improvements and health insurance for the children of the working poor. But his record has rough edges, and Huckabee has a habit of playing fast and loose with it.

And it only gets worse from there. Now I’m neither for nor against Huckabee, and naturally I’m not arguing that the contents of the article don’t have merit, but the facts are presented in a stunningly biased way. You expect this from one of the Thomases (Helen or Cal), but not from the AP. It’s almost as if there’s such thing as a so-called “media bias”. (Hey, I like that phrase, I think I’ll coin it!)

There is nothing more fun then contradicting yourself. In my previous post, I’ve encouraged all of you out there in political junkie land to make your predictions on who will win the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

And then I saw this little piece in the Philadelphia Daily News today regarding a panel of political experts who spoke at a forum at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia last night.

Here’s what they came up with:

All agreed that just a month out, the race is still impossible to call.

Hrm. I guess the timing of my prediction post was a little off, but hey, it happens.

A former Reagan administration official put it best:

“If the Democratic race is fluid, the Republican race is absolute chaos,” said Kenneth Duberstein, a former chief of staff to President Ronald Regan.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel according to the panel:

All the panelists thought the nominees for each party would likely be determined after Super Tuesday on Feb. 5 – the day when more than 20 presidential primaries are held.

OK fellow PoliticalDerbyites, here is your chance to participate in my completely unscientific prediction poll on who the top three finishers will be in the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary will be.

It’s very simple, post your top three for each party in Iowa and New Hampshire and I’ll post every Tuesday with a running score on who leads. I’ll do a new poll each Tuesday until the Iowa caucus on January 3rd.

Tune in every Tuesday for up-to-date totals and a chance to vote again. One ballot, per poster, per week please. Let’s see who can nail the order!

It would appear I’m the first PD contributor to take off my stretchy pants and get back to work after last Thursday. (Heretofore called “The Day Jason Ate 9 Pumpkin Pies and cussed in Portuguese”.)

This news item didn’t make Drudge, and therefore likely got missed by PD faithful, but it begs to be read. It also begs the question, “Where the heck was Mr. Hof when Bill was looking for endorsements?!?!”

Brothel owner endorses pres. candidate

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) – It isn’t everyday that that a presidential candidate gets an endorsement from a professed pimp, but that’s exactly what has happened to Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

Dennis Hof, owner of Nevada’s (in)famous Bunny Ranch brothels and star of the HBO show ‘Cathouse’, has publicly endorsed Paul after hearing him champion states’ rights at a campaign stop. Hof told CNN, “Who knows our state better than us? Who knows anything better than the constituents that live in that state? Nobody. We know. We don’t need big brother, the federal government, telling us what to do.”

Paul, a Libertarian and devout Baptist who does not condone prostitution, is uncomfortable with the unconventional support, according to his campaign. They counter that it is “the price of freedom.” “If you’re going to have a constitutional government, you’re going to work out these kinds of issues at the local level, as the constitution intends. Then sometimes you’re going to have to put up with things that make you uncomfortable.” The campaign added that if Paul were a local Nevada lawmaker that he would vote against legalized prostitution.

Paul has found the spotlight recently after putting up some big fundraising numbers, including a $4.2 million haul in a single day in early November. Hof says he plans to add to that, “The girls are good at shaking down the customers for $1s, $5s, $10s, $50s, $100s, whatever they got.” He is waiting for instructions from the campaign on how to raise and donate the money legally.

Prostitution is legal everywhere in Nevada except for the three counties that are home to Carson City, Reno and Las Vegas.

– CNN Nevada Producer Alexander Marquardt

I’ve been in DC for the last few days and have found that the last thing I wanted at the end of the day was to sit down, stare at my computer screen and think a little more about politics. My evening rituals tended more towards Kobe beef and a tasty beverage to wash down my tasty steak.

The other night though, after my meal (which also was a meeting… so I guess that you can never escape politics in Da City), I turned on the TV and was captivated by the Tavis Smiley show. Tavis doesn’t broadcast in RI but I am familiar with him from my numerous travels and really like what he does. It was his guest who got me to keep it on the channel, however, instead of turning to “Pimp my Ride”, “Semi Home Made”, or another of our nation’s artistic examples for the world. There he was; brushed off, polished up and taken from storage; General Wesley Clark.

I’m sure you remember the General, a four star egomaniac who once was a hawk and now is the doviest dove that ever doved a dove. Oh yeah… he also told some people that he believed in time travel. Spark up the way back machine, Mister Peabody.

Well, this time around, Michael Moore didn’t talk him into running for President (Where the heck has that Gulfstream V liberal been this race anyway?? Doesn’t want to attach his humongous yuck to Hillary??) but someone has talked the General into running for the second seat. A little over a month ago, he endorsed “The Lock” who isn’t so much of a lock now, thanks to Bob Novak’s usual “unnamed sources”. The conversation with Smiley ran the gamut and was most defiantly designed to position him as Hillary’s White House Scapegoat.

Richardson seems the frontrunner but, in all of the discussion on a recent thread about the Veep stakes, there has been no mention of the fact that BR and Hillary don’t exactly get along. Yes, I realize that he is setting himself up as a counterpoint (Wolf Blitzer: “Do you support licenses for illegals. Hillary: “No”. BR: “Yes. I’ve already have signed it into law as Governor in New Mexico.) If Clinton, herself, doesn’t have both sides of the argument covered, then, at least a ticket with Richardson would. It’s solid reasoning, as is his balance of the southwest and his Hispanic credentials. It doesn’t take into account the fact that, as is the case with many others, there won’t be a Christmahanakwanzaka card from the Clintons in the Governor’s New Mexico mail box.

And so, with that thought, I give you Vice President Clark. At least his ego thinks so.

Since last year’s turkey was so good it seemed fitting to award our 2nd Annual Big Turkey Award. The competition was stiff. But our panel of experts were able to reach a consensus – it worked for global warming! Insert drum roll here.

Big Media served over conventional wisdom

PoliticalDerby.com presents The Big Turkey Award to the media! Accolades go out to Wolf Blitzer; we can rest assured that the media will fail to ask the tough questions when it counts. Because anyone who allows presidential candidates to take questions from a talking snowman has got to be a turkey. And because the media at large has failed to report the good news coming out of Iraq. In Charlie Gibson’s own words, “The news is… that there is no news.”

Big Media, you are all big turkeys. And we salute you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you believe Hillary Clinton is a humble person in tune with the lives of everyday Americans…Damn, none of the usual jokes really do that justice, so we’ll just say that you should lay off the crack.

Anyway, what does Hillary think of herself? Well, she’s too politically savvy to come right I am so much more betterer than you!out and tell you how great she thinks she is, so she’s done what any arrogant person surrounded by sycophants does – she tells people what others think of her.

Speaking to a group in Iowa yesterday, Hillary had the following veiled praise for herself:

‘‘Voters will have to judge if living in a foreign country at the age of 10 prepares one to face the big, complex international challenges the next president will face. I think we need a president with more experience than that, someone the rest of the world knows, looks up to and has confidence in.”

Whomever could she be referring to at the end there?

Let’s look at her statement in two parts.

The first bit is clearly a swipe at Barack Obama, who only has 4 years in the U.S. Senate under his belt. Not exactly the most extensive resume on issues dealing with foreign policy, granted. But what about Hillary’s resume?

Her resume consists of 6 years in the U.S. Senate and, well, that’s about it. Did Hillary spend those extra 2 years in the State Department and not the Senate? Because she certainly couldn’t be referring to her time as First Lady of Arkansas, unless there were secret negotiations between Little Rock and, say, North Korea (something along the lines of, “Wait till my husband is President and we’ll give you everything you need to build a nuclear weapon, just as long as you pinky-swear not to use them for that.”) Sure, she was sent overseas on “Goodwill” missions while her husband was running the country, but those were more photo-ops and opportunities for Bill to stray than deep-rooted policy missions, especially since she had absolutely zero power as an agent of the United States government.

So her statement about herself is nothing more than a delusional self-image than a refection of any form of reality in this universe. But, if you think about, isn’t that how the Clintons have seen themselves since the beginning?

Second is the “Enough about me, let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?” portion of the statement. This needs little comment beyond pointing out that she said it about herself! If someone had a friend talking this way about themselves they would be tempted to punch them in the nose, not vote for them…at least for anything other than…

Mitt is up in NH, Huck is surging in Iowa, Hillary is slipping in both places. So how would you rank the top 5 on the left and right? The Derby needs your input before releasing our special Thanksgiving Edition of the 2008 Power Rankings. Let the comments roll!

There’s more bad news emanating from Iowa for Hillary. According to the Washington Post:

Illinois Senator Barack Obama gets the support of 30 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa, compared to 26 percent for Clinton, 22 percent for former senator John Edwards and 11 percent for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. The results are only marginally changed from a Post-ABC poll in late July, but in a state likely to set the course for the rest of the nominating process, there are significant signs of progress for Obama — and harbingers of concern for Clinton.

Read the rest.

Evidence is stacking up that Iraq will be less of an issue in 2008 than was once suspected. Republicans in the US Senate turned back a Democrat effort to hijack a troop funding bill into a troop withdrawal bill. And the top Democrat contenders have refused to say that they will bring all the troops home.

Independent journalist Michael Yon posted the following picture on his website today, from the St. John’s Catholic Church in Baghdad. “Today, Muslims mostly filled the front pews of St John’s. Muslims who want their Christian friends and neighbors to come home.” Read that last sentence again. “Muslims who want their Christian friends and neighbors to come home.” Was there ever clearer evidence that an Iraq victory is at hand?

Muslims want the Christians to come home.

From Michael-Yon.com:

Today, Muslims mostly filled the front pews of St John’s. Muslims who want their Christian friends and neighbors to come home. The Christians who might see these photos likely will recognize their friends here. The Muslims in this neighborhood worry that other people will take the homes of their Christian neighbors, and that the Christians will never come back. And so they came to St John’s today in force, and they showed their faces, and they said, “Come back to Iraq. Come home.” They wanted the cameras to catch it. They wanted to spread the word: Come home. Muslims keep telling me to get it on the news. “Tell the Christians to come home to their country Iraq.”

Despite not being associated with the US Mint, the Liberty Dollar currency has seen modest circulation. Though labeled with a monetary value, the actual worth of the coins is based on the price of the metal – gold, silver, or copper – of which they are physically made.

Though the FBI and Secret Service left cards, neither agency would confirm the raid that federal agents staged on an Indiana Liberty Dollar office. Agents swiped tens of thousands of coins which had been stamped with the image of presidential candidate Ron Paul.

The Liberty Dollar is seen as both an investment, as the value of some metals, most notably gold, has increased against the dollar, and as a protest against the baseless currency championed by the Federal Reserve. Ron Paul is not affiliated with the coinage, but the Texas congressman has long supported a return to a sound currency, and a Ron Paul questioning of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke on the issue has been circulating on the Internet.

As people are free to trade anything they want, from gold to Garbage Pail Kids trading cards, the legality of the raid is highly questionable, with the only justifiable argument seeming to be that the Liberty Dollar “looks similar” to legal tender. People mistaking Ron Paul for Sacagawea notwithstanding, the raid of the coins and bearer certificates seems to amount to a theft from the purchasers of the currency. The founder of the currency and a Ron Paul supporter, Bernard von NotHaus had already filed suit after a consumer alert was issued against the currency last year, and von NotHaus is now urging the owners of the seized property to sue the government as well.

Is Wolf Blitzer the worst debate moderator in history? Raise your hand if you think so. Blitzer practically reenacted that pathetic hand-raising system that he pioneered several debates ago. He said he wouldn’t interrupt anyone, but warned candidates that they’d all be “on the honor system.” Honor system? These are politicians! No matter how funny it is to watch Blitzer on celebrity Jeopardy!, the waves of boos cascading from the audience should really be a wake up call to CNN to get serious. Moderators are like umpires – if they are doing their jobs well, you don’t notice them.

As for the main event…

Despite being the one with a platform on licenses for illegal immigrants, Barack Obama tripped up in his words amid the two-person debate with Hillary Clinton that was drawing boos from people who came to see all the candidates, well, except for the absent Mike Gravel. Hillary gave the same meaningless non-talking points, so pundits will say she did much better, despite her failure to answer questions, which is really what should decide the winner in a debate.

John Edwards continued to call out Clinton for flip flopping on issues such as the war in Iraq and Social Security. Dennis Kucinich rightly restated that his fellow Democrats share the blame for the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act, as they had voted for them. Kucinich got cheers when he said he didn’t vote for the Patriot Act, “because I read it,” but he then devolved into thornless calls for impeachment.

Joe Biden kept up his platform of plans for Iraq, Pakistan, etc, maintaining his candidacy for Secretary of State, while Bill Richardson continued his ongoing bid for VP on Hillary’s ticket. Chris Dodd, invisible in the polls, began a response partially in Spanish, and, impressively, without too much of a gringo accent, and he garnered some applause for his efforts.

Now that Obama and Edwards have taken the lead on the Hillary-bashing front, it’s time for the GOPers to find a new target…but where to look? Oh, how about each other? Yay! It’s finally push-poll time.

Everyone has been wondering which Republican is going to start with the anti-Mormon attacks, and with Romney’s lead climbing in Iowa and New Hampshire, the answer is finally here…it’s an unnamed mystery Republican.

Politico’s Jonathan Martin reports on what IA and NH voters are hearing in apparent push polls:

“Statements were on baptizing the dead, the Book of Mormon being on the level of the Bible, and one about equating it to a cult,” said the Iowan, deeming them “common criticisms of Mormonism.”

Of course, legitimate research polls can test positive and negative statements about the candidates, but a push poll goes over the line, making outlandish statements that are clearly for the purpose of slander, not research. It’s hard to say without actually hearing the phone call, but this certainly sounds more like a “push” than a “poll.” CBS has a good explanation of the difference between the two.

There is some speculation that McCain’s campaign could be the source of the calls, because the poll also reportedly tests positives on him. This is pretty hard to believe, since McCain, himself the victim of infamous push polls in 2000, has based so much of his career on chastising this kind of politics.

In an effort to make it clear that it isn’t them, McCain’s campaign has called for a full investigation into who’s behind the attacks.

AP further investigates, seeing if the poll can be tied a consultant who works for Giuliani, a theory the consultant strongly denies.

So who is it? Sadly, we’ll probably never know. The only thing that’s clear is we’re headed into the campaign’s dirty season.

In the wacky, roller-coaster affair that is the 2008 Republican Primary race, long shot candidate Mike Huckabee has suddenly become a serious player in the fast-approaching Iowa caucus.

Huckabee was last heard from when he finished a strong second in Iowa’s Ames Straw Poll in August. Pundits argued if the cash-strapped Huckabee campaign could take advantage of the press that came with its strong finish. And for a while, it really didn’t seem like they could take advantage.

Enter two polls – a CBS News/New York Times that came out November 13, and one from the American Research Group from between November 10 and 14 – has Huckabee charging in Iowa faster than a socialite with a platinum card on Black Friday.

Huckabee has rocketed past Giuliani, McCain and Thompson, all of whom wrote Iowa off to Mitt months ago.

The Huckabee surge raises two very interesting issues.

First, if Huck can win or finish a strong second to Romney in Iowa, it will throw a serious wrench into Mitt’s strategy. If he doesn’t have the momentum from Iowa, Romney faces a tougher fight in New Hampshire, where Giuliani has begun to campaign harder and where McCain has historical strength among the Granite State’s independent-minded voters. In other words – a strong Huckabee finish in Iowa poses a serious threat to Romney.

The second issue is, again assuming Huckabee has a strong finish in Iowa, does Huckabee become the major story and become a part of the conversation? If he does well in Iowa, he just needs to finish respectable in New Hampshire and try to make it to South Carolina, where his southern roots and conservative credentials could catapult him into the mix for the nomination.

Personally, I think the first issue is a lot more likely than the second, but this certainly adds yet another wrinkle to a campaign season that has more of them than a 90-year-old man’s rear-end.

Al Gore, who I hear is in the running to be the next Dali Lama, wasn’t happy with simply doing the narration on the “documentary to end all documentaries”. He wasn’t content when he somehow garnered an Oscar and he can’t sleep soundly knowing that his Peace Prize is right where it belongs. He isn’t even placated by the fact that ManBearPig hasn’t been seen in South Park in months. No… This guy won’t be happy until he gets sweet revenge on everyone Clinton.

I picture his basement cork board plastered with cut out articles of Hillary front running and printed up sheets from PoliticalDerby with Her Thighness, as one prominent talker calls her, ensconced in first, second, and third. I can just hear him practicing his lines: “It takes the nomination out of the basket, or else it gets the hose again”.

The field is not yet set on either side, in my humble opinion, and AG is waiting in the wings. I’m a bit surprised that he isn’t in yet but, from the scuttlebutt that I’ve heard, he’s closer to in than he is to out. The Nobel sealed the deal. They say that mistakes come in threes. Could the sun shine on the same dog again? I fear so.

Al gets in because he HATES the Clintons and wants nothing more than to spoil Hillary’s moment in the sun. He is also on a roll and is the voice of a carefully crafted political message that has taken environmental issues from the obscurity of the 1970s (global COOLING anyone?) and has, perhaps, made it into one of the seminal issues in the election cycle despite the war, home foreclosures, the economy, and all of the other things that used to matter. I say that Al Gore is back soon. Let’s just hope that he leaves the beard and those sweaters back in Tennessee.

This election cycle has the makings of a dream scenario for political junkies (like many of the inhabitants of this website). The possibility remains a long shot, especially for the Democrats, who have a strong front-runner in the form of Hillary Clinton (her recent problems aside), but does seem possible that it could occur on the GOP side.

There is some chatter in the blogging world that the outside chance of a brokered convention may exist, while most dismiss the odds as long at best.

I am one that salivates over a potential brokered convention and the political intrigue that accompanies it. The last time we saw anything remotely like this was in the race for the 1976 Republican nomination.

The race was unresolved entering the Republican National Convention, with Ford in the lead, but short of the required number of delegates. Reagan, in an attempt to woo moderates to his strong conservative base, indicated he would choose liberal Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania as his running mate if nominated. The move backfired, as moderates did not move to Reagan and enough conservatives were upset with Reagan to give Ford the nomination.

How can it happen in 2008?

Mitt Romney fails to romp through the early states and each of the top candidates takes one of the first three or four contests would lead up to a Tsunami Tuesday that not only has no clear cut favorite, but also could have just about all of the top tier candidates still in the race.

On Tsunami Tuesday, Fred Thompson takes Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Colorado. Romney takes Utah and shows up strong in New York and California. Giuliani takes California, New York and Illinois. Huckabee wins his native Arkansas and shows strength in the South. McCain wins Arizona and picks up a surprise win in a place like Minnesota.

No one has momentum and few are looking to drop out. Hello brokered convention.

Sure, it’s extremely unlikely… but it would sure make for some fun TV.

When your party has exactly one issue, choosing a candidate should be very simple, at least in initial phase, where you separate the field between those that agree with you and those that do not. The National Right to Life Committee has apparently chosen Fred Thompson as the presidential candidate it will support, and perhaps it is the perfect choice for a group which seems to be plodding lazily along into the dustbin of history. Thompson has been virtually invisible on the campaign trail, and recent polls have shown him losing support in places where he hasn’t bothered to show up, such as New Hampshire.

But what about that central, solitary issue that means the world to Right to Lifers? Could such an organization possibly have been too lazy to discover that Fred Thompson once worked as a lobbyist for a family planning group that had been trying to relax abortion law? Romney carries similar, if not worse, flip-flopping baggage, and Giuliani supports a woman’s right to choose, but there are other candidates.

Mike Huckabee, a preacher, is staunchly pro-life, so much so that he is seeking to turn the nation into a pseudo-Catholic state which recognizes life as beginning at contraception. Ron Paul, an obstetrician, believes that abortion, like many other issues, should be handled at the state, rather than the federal, level. There’s also Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo, but they’re only technically running, though the same could be said of Thompson. By making such a poor, illogical choice, the National Right to Life Committee’s aspirations appear to be, well, dead in the water.