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The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 229)

January 23, 2006
Media Morons Edition

Last week was not exactly a banner week for the media - Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell (2), CNN (4), Chris Matthews and Friends (5) and Bill O'Reilly (6) all make it onto this week's list. But members of the media aren't the only ones offending our sensibilities - we got a letter from Phil Parlock (7), the Bush Administration (8) is playing the propaganda card again, and Plain Ol' Homophobes (9) react to Brokeback Mountain's Golden Globe victory. Enjoy, and don't forget the key!

1George W. Bush helping the terrorists
Hey George, remember this guy? It's the guy from that tape last week. Remember him?

I know you remember this.

But do you remember saying this?

Or this?

Because I'm curious as to why you got this guy...

...but forgot about this guy.

Come on George. "Wanted Dead or Alive" isn't just the title of a Bon Jovi song. Get your act together.

2Deborah Howell covering your ass excessive spin partisanship
Last week, things went from bad to worse for the Washington Post's new ombudsman Deborah Howell. The problems began when Ms. Howell attempted to defend a Post story which said that Democrats and Republicans were equally implicated in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Howell wrote:

Schmidt quickly found that Abramoff was getting 10 to 20 times as much from Indian tribes as they had paid other lobbyists. And he had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties.

Unfortunately, that's just plain false. Abramoff made substantial campaign contributions to members of just one party - the Republican party. He never made a single campaign contribution to any Democrat.

But rather than acknowledging and retracting the error (and hey, an apology would have been nice), Howell tried to cover her ass. Four days later she wrote this on the Post's blog:

I've heard from lots of angry readers about the remark in my column Sunday that lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to both parties. A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff "directed" contributions to both parties.

I'm sorry, that's not a "better way to have said it." That's saying something completely different. Not only that, but there isn't even any evidence that Abramoff "directed" money to Democrats - if anything, the opposite happened. For example, Indian tribes who traditionally donated to Democrats dramatically reduced their donations after getting involved with Abramoff, and instead donated more to the Republican party. Can Ms. Howell explain exactly how Democrats are tainted by tribes which gave them less money after getting involved with Abramoff?

But that's not the end of the story. Post readers, incensed at the alleged ombudsman's utter disregard for the facts, posted hundreds of angry comments in response to Howell's "clarification." The Post subsequently deleted the comments from the blog after claiming that too many of them contained "hate speech." Certainly the Post was doing nothing wrong by deleting rude or offensive messages, but was it necessary to also delete the inoffensive comments? Judge for yourselves - we were able to save the comments for your viewing pleasure.

The next day, Post reporter Jim Vandehei jumped on the bandwagon, writing:

Deborah Howell, our ombudsman, wrote that Democrats got Abramoff money, too. It was a somewhat inartful way of making the point that Abramoff's clients, at his direction, gave money to members of both parties, but more to Republicans than Democrats.

Let's review Howell's comments one more time:

...he had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties.

That's not "somewhat inartful" - it's flat out wrong. But I guess now it's the job of Post reporters to put words in their ombudsman's mouth.

Next, the executive editor of washingtonpost.com, Jim Brady, addressed further complaints about the comments being deleted. Well, actually he repeated the excuse that too many posts were offensive - but he still didn't explain why hundreds of legitimate comments were deleted as well.

Clearly realizing that they'd been caught with their pants down, the Post subsequently reposted many of the comments which had been deleted from the blog. And Deborah Howell acknowledged her error in Sunday's column, writing, "I wrote that he gave campaign money to both parties and their members of Congress. He didn't. ... It's not a bipartisan scandal; it's a Republican scandal, and that's why the Republicans are scurrying around trying to enact lobbying reforms."

She also noted that "it is profoundly distressing if political discourse has sunk to a level where abusive name-calling and the crudest of sexual language are the norm, where facts have no place in an argument." Gee, you only just noticed? You didn't get a clue when Bush surrogates suggested that John McCain had an illegitimate black baby, or that Max Cleland, John Kerry and John Murtha are anti-American cowards? And if the vice president of the United States can tell a senator to "go fuck yourself" on the Senate floor, perhaps you shouldn't expect higher standards from the American people.

When it takes this much effort to get the Washington Post's ombudsman to even acknowledge an obvious error, let alone correct it, one has to wonder how conservatives are still getting away with this "liberal media" rubbish.

(Oh, and by the way, Post - Sydney isn't the capital of Australia.)

3Scott McClellan covering your ass excessive spin
Is there any doubt that Scott McClellan is the worst White House press secretary of all time? His daily briefings have been a joke for some time now, although since Scott hit his stride during the whole Valerie Plame "ongoing investigation" fiasco, things have quieted down a bit. That changed last week when Scott fended off questions about Jack Abramoff (and guess what - the "ongoing investigation" excuse is back!)

On January 5, Scott committed to providing details of Jack Abramoff's visits to the White House, telling reporters that "I'm making sure that I have a thorough report back to you on that, and I'll get that to you, hopefully very soon." But last week he changed his tune:

Q: ...do you have an update for us on any records of phone calls or emails between staff members and Mr. Abramoff, or photos of the President with him?

SNOTTY: No, as I indicated yesterday, we're not going to engage in some sort of fishing expedition. I know there are some that want to play partisan politics, and do so. This is a gentleman who is being held to account for the wrongdoing he was involved in. He is someone who, through himself and his clients, contributed to both Democrats and Republicans. And it was outrageous what he was involved in doing and he needs to be held to account, and he is being held to account by the Department of Justice.

(snip)

Q: Scott, you said a few minutes ago you weren't going to do a fishing expedition on any contacts Abramoff might have had with White House people. But some of his lobbying firm billing records and emails and other things that are emerging in this case suggest some specific meetings with White House officials, including an aid to the Vice President. Have you had any opportunity, or will you take the opportunity to sort of compare those records with anything --

SNOTTY: No, I mean, the gentleman you bring up, Mr. Abramoff, is someone that is being held to account by the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice has an ongoing investigation and they're the ones who are overseeing that investigation.

It's no surprise that Scott doesn't want to go on a fishing expedition, since the Washingtonian magazine reported last week that Our Great Leader might be up to his neck in the Abramoff scandal:

At a press conference, McClellan said if there were pictures, which officials hadn't found, they might have been taken at a Christmas-party line, where the President poses with hundreds of people. "The President does not know him, nor does the President recall ever meeting him," McClellan said.

The comment about searching raised images in the press room of a "White House plumbers" operation looking for incriminating photos.

If the White House can't find the photos, prosecutors already know where to look. The Washingtonian has seen five photos of the President with Abramoff or his family. One photo shows the President and Abramoff shaking hands at a meeting in the Old Executive Office Building, where a bearded-Abramoff introduced Bush to several of the lobbyist’s native-American clients.

(Snip)

Sources say the photographs are being kept safe. Abramoff would tell prosecutors, if asked, that not only did he know the President, but the President knew the names of Abramoff’s children and asked about them during their meetings. At one such photo session, Bush discussed the fact that both he and Abramoff were fathers of twins.

Anyway, this all probably goes a long way to explaining why Scott almost forgot that the President wasn't inaugurated on September 11, 2001 (video courtesy of CanOFun.com).

4CNN partisanship extreme
CNN have been pushing ever-rightwards for many years now - perhaps the final straw came back in 2001 when "CNN chairman Walter Isaacson met with top Republican lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to discuss how to improve relations between the cable news network and conservative Republicans," according to FAIR.org.

Here's the deal - cable news networks aren't really in the business of covering news, they're in the business of making money. And since most intelligent people have turned their backs on CNN's constant drumbeat of missing white girls, shark attacks, and celebrity gossip, they appear to have given up broadcasting programs for smart people altogether.

That means they're going after the idiots - and unfortunately the idiots are all watching Fox News already. But CNN apparently has a cunning plan to steal those viewers away. The plan? They're going to make CNN even more of a right-wing cesspool than Fox.

That's why CNN revealed last week that they will be hiring not one, not two, but three right-wing blowhards of varying loathsomeness. The first two hires, former Congressman J.C. Watts and former Sunset Strip roustabout William Bennett are really only notable for the fact that CNN didn't hire any progressives to counter their right-wing spin.

But the third hire is a little different. In an effort to out-Fox Fox, CNN Headline News has picked up right-wing talk radio host Glenn Beck. Let's take a look at some of Beck's greatest hits:

BECK: Honestly, who's a bigger prostitute? Heidi Fleiss or Terrell Owens? Who's the person out there - who's the bigger prostitute: Heidi Fleiss or Howard Dean? No, not even Howard Dean. John Kerry. Who's the bigger prostitute? Who'll do anything for power or money? I mean, at least Heidi Fleiss - this is saying something - at least Heidi Fleiss will admit to being a prostitute. You know what I mean? At least she'll say, "Hey, I'm doing it for cash." ... Cindy Sheehan. That's a pretty big prostitute there, you know what I mean? (link)

BECK: You know it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims' families? Took me about a year. ... And that's all we're hearing about, are the people in New Orleans. Those are the only ones we're seeing on television are the scumbags - and again, it's not all the people in New Orleans. Most of the people in New Orleans got out! It's just a small percentage of those who were left in New Orleans, or who decided to stay in New Orleans, and they're getting all the attention. (link)

BECK: I'm beginning to question, you know, "Can you let your son's body become the same temperature as your son's head before you turn this into a political campaign against the president - could you do that?" ... I find this guy [Michael Berg] despicable. Everything in me says that. The want to be a better person today than I was yesterday says he's a dad, he's grieving, but I don't buy that. I'm sorry, I don't buy it. I think he is grieving, but I think he's a scumbag as well. I don't like this guy at all. (Link)

BECK: Hang on, let me just tell you what I'm thinking. I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out - is this wrong? I stopped wearing my What Would Jesus - band -- Do, and I've lost all sense of right and wrong now. I used to be able to say, "Yeah, I'd kill Michael Moore," and then I'd see the little band: What Would Jesus Do? And then I'd realize, "Oh, you wouldn't kill Michael Moore. Or at least you wouldn't choke him to death." And you know, well, I'm not sure. (Link)

Great job, CNN. I can't imagine that this will backfire on you at all.

5Chris Matthews and Friends partisanship excessive spin
Speaking of killing Michael Moore, perhaps Glenn Beck ought to give Chris Matthews a call. MSNBC's very own dumb blonde had a great time last week echoing Newsmax's comparison of the latest Osama bin Laden audio tape to Democratic talking points. During a conversation with Sen. Joe Biden, Matthews said of bin Laden, "I mean he sounds like an over the top Michael Moore here, if not a Michael Moore." (By the way Senator, thanks for GIGGLING. Jeez...)

Joe Scarborough also had a go, saying, "When you look at what Osama Bin Laden said it sounds an awful lot like what we hear the President's political enemies domestically - not only like what a lot of democratic senators have been saying, but also what one or two movie makers have been saying over the past several years."

The following night MSNBC unveiled their special Hardball "Hot Shots" panel which featured two politically unbalanced pundits, Joe Scarborough (Scarborough Country) and Tucker Carlson (The Situation), and two mentally unbalanced pundits, Chris Matthews (Hardball) and Rita Cosby (Rita Cosby's Bordello Of News). The topic? Liberals love Osama bin Laden.

Of course, they weren't the only ones. But John Kerry pretty much hit the nail on the head with a response to Matthews and Co. which read:

You'd think the only focus tonight would be on destroying Osama Bin Laden, not comparing him to an American who opposes the war whether you like him or not. You want a real debate that America needs? Here goes: If the administration had done the job right in Tora Bora we might not be having discussions on Hardball about a new Bin Laden tape. How dare Scott McClellan tell America that this Administration puts terrorists out of business when had they put Osama Bin Laden out of business in Afghanistan when our troops wanted to, we wouldn't have to hear this barbarian's voice on tape. That's what we should be talking about in America.

Yes, that's what we should be talking about in America. But with chumps like Chris Matthews monopolizing the airwaves, the chances that that's what we will be talking about in America are slimmer than a very slim Slim Jim.

6Bill O'Reilly massive ego massive ego massive ego covering your ass
Are you a sucker? If so, then has Fox News got a competition for you! Last week the "Bloviate with Bill" contest was unveiled (slight hiccup - they had to change the name from "The Great Factor Debate Contest" after being threatened with a lawsuit). The contest promises six lucky winners the chance to fly to New York or Los Angeles and take on Bill O'Reilly in a televised debate. According to Fox News, "All you have to do is convince us by e-mail (and later by telephone) that you are a good debater and that you can hold your own with O'Reilly on a topic of your choosing."

A topic of my choosing? Why, how generous. Let's make it... sexual harassment in the workplace. Not up your alley? Well then, how about Peabody Award winners, 1941-2005. Not that either? Okay... er, unorthodox uses of falafel. Yes? No?

I guess I'm not going to be bloviating with Bill any time soon. But if anyone thinks that they really have a fair shot at the Falafel Master, they've gotta be kidding themselves. Here's what O'Reilly said on his show last week:

You want a piece of me? Would you like to sit on this set right here and let me have it? Of course you would. Well, now that can happen ... [but] be careful what you wish for.

Be careful what you wish for indeed. From the contest rules:

Sponsor reserves full editorial rights to edit the segment and determine whether or not to air it.

So in the highly unlikely event that O'Reilly's producers actually pick someone who's any good at debating, bear in mind that they can (and most likely will) edit the content any way they want. Hey, if you do a really good job, they might not air it at all.

Which - considering Bill O'Reilly's favorite debate tactic involves yelling "Shut up! Shut up!" and "Cut his mike!" - is a distinct possibility.

6Phil Parlock dumb
Now here's a name I thought we'd seen the last of! For those of you who've forgotten (and I can't blame you if you have) Phil Parlock was featured in Idiots 171 for his apparent uncanny ability to have children burst into tears in front of reporters at Democratic campaign rallies.

It seems the poor guy can't go anywhere without being attacked by liberals. But if you thought that Mr. Parlock's bad luck was restricted to presidential election years, think again. Apparently he's a magnet for angry leftists all year round.

Here's an email we got from Phil just last week. Some time ago he made a small donation to DU, and, recognizing his name, we deliberately didn't send him a bumper sticker. Big mistake. Now it appears that we are reaping the whirlwind:

From: Phil Parlock [mailto:redacted]
Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 2:27 PM
To: skinner@democraticunderground.com
Subject: YOU OWE ME a Bumper Sticker

Hey DUmmies: I donated $6.66 to your organization (for luck). I NEVER got my bumper sticker as was promised. I guess your word is just as good as your patheticly lame, LOSER site.

BTW, my car has been vandalized twice in the last month with anti-Bush grafitti. I figure that perhaps if I had your bumper sticker on my auto, it might confuse the simpleton cowards that slither and sneak in the shadows at night spray painting my car. These vandals are spinless and cowardly wimps, like most of your simple-minded readers, commentors, moderators, administrators, editors, and other so-called contributors.

If you thought that you only lost the last election, just wait till Billery Lewinski Streisand Clinton runs (I figure that they are all virally related, therefore can be treated as one person.

Best of the worst luck,

Phil Parlock

Perhaps we should send him a bumper sticker after all. He could use it to hold the two halves of his brain together.

8The Bush Administration flip-flopping excessive spin
Bush's new Medicare drug prescription plan is causing growing unease among seniors - according to Reuters, "tens of thousands of people were unable to get medicines promised by Medicare," since the new program began, and not only that, but, "several states declared public health emergencies, and many states announced that they would step in to pay for prescriptions that should have been covered."

So how is the Bush administration going to fix its dreadful Medicare plan? Why, it's nothing a good strong dose of propaganda can't fix!

It turns out that the administration is spending taxpayer cash to send its health advisers on a nationwide tour to prop up flagging support for the plan. After all the good work George W. Bush did promoting his plans to reform Social Security last year, I'm sure this latest tour will be a smashing success.

Oh, and by the way - those states which paid for prescriptions that should have been covered by Medicare? The federal government isn't going to reimburse them. Apparently they've got plenty of money to spend on pumping up the new Medicare plan, but no money to actually fund it. Sounds about par for the course.

9Plain Ol' Homophobes homophobia homophobia homophobia
Bigots on the religious right just about crapped themselves last week when Brokeback Mountain won best drama at the Golden Globes. Apparently the concept of a gay cowboy is one that the fundies simply can't get their heads around. After all, there's nothing gay about wearing leather chaps, spending months at a time riding the range with nobody but your fellow men to keep you company, and serenading one another around the camp fire. Take Hollywood's most famous cowboy, the late great John Wayne, for example:

See what I mean? Straight as an arrow.

But of course, the fundies' hatred does not just stem from the fact that some of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year happen to feature gay characters. No, no - there are darker forces at work here. It turns out that Brokeback Mountain is apparently the latest plot by those attempting to deliver America into the clutches of - gasp - the Gay Agenda.

Said Stephen Bennett of Straight Talk Radio last week, "When Hollywood is pumping out anti-family movies with sexually explicit, twisted and perverse themes that glorify homosexuality, transsexuality and every other kind of sexual immorality - then awarding itself for doing so - Middle America better take note. Last night Hollywood exposed its own corrupt agenda. [It] is no doubt out on a mission to homosexualize America."

And that's not the worst of it - according to Renew America, "It is cognitively and nationally dissonant to propose on one hand the advancement of the homosexualization of your most identified national folk icon and simultaneously bluster with the impending force of a war to defend that same civilization. The homosexualization of your most revered masculinity is the cheapest and stupidest shot you can take at the survival of your own culture and it is really inappropriately timed when you are facing, from threats abroad, the most substantial existential peril the nation has ever known. You can't fight Islamism with gay cowboys."

Oh my god! Before you know it, we'll all be wearing leather chaps. And then the terrorists will have won.

10Samuel Alito extreme extreme extreme
And finally, I've reserved the last slot this week for a special call to action. This week, Senate Democrats will decide whether or not they have the votes to filibuster Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court. Here's what Dick Durbin had to say about it last Friday:

A week ago, I would have told you it's not likely to happen. As of [Wednesday], I just can't rule it out. I was surprised by the intensity of feeling of some of my colleagues. It's a matter of counting. We have 45 Democrats, counting [Vermont independent] Jim Jeffords, on our side. We could sustain a filibuster if 41 senators ... are willing to stand and fight..

We're asking senators where they stand. When it reaches a critical moment when five senators have said they oppose a filibuster, it's off the table. It's not going to happen. But if it doesn't reach that moment, then we'll sit down and have that conversation.

So this is it, folks - one last chance to call your Senators and tell them to oppose the dangerous nomination of Samuel Alito. The grassroots have been keeping up serious pressure for weeks, and now it's crunch time.

Here's everything you need - get on the phone, call and fax your senators, and spread the word.

DU Activist Corps thread

Senate phone numbers

Fax numbers for Senate Democrats

Fax numbers for Senate Republicans

DU Activist HQ

See you next week!

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