Introducing Jim Jeffords beer

Plus: Democrats didn't lose -- they almost won! Rep. Nita Lowey tries her best to spin her way out of a Democratic defeat in Virginia.

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Big buzz

When Sen. Jim Jeffords left the GOP last month, Republicans grunted that the Vermont senator jumped simply to gain media attention and a coveted committee chairmanship. But we at Red vs. Blue have learned the real reason for Jeffords’ jump — the beer.

The folks at Vermont’s Magic Hat Brewing Co. have decided to salute their junior senator in style, naming a new beer after the only independent member in the U.S. Senate.

The new brew, called “Jeezum Jim,” will be unveiled just in time for Independence Day, the beer maker states. “This beer is for everyone who follows their convictions,” says Magic Hat co-founder Alan Newman.

For those not in the know, “Jeezum Jim” is a nickname given to Jeffords by a Burlington columnist years ago. Jeffords explains that Jeezum is “kind of a polite swear word” — unlike the kind of impolite swear words Trent Lott used in front of Jeffords’ name when the Vermonter switched parties.

The Magic Hat press release featured quotes from Jeffords endorsing the new product. “When asked if he is a beer drinker, Jeffords replied, ‘Oh sure, I like beer. This beer is a moderate beer — totally consistent with my philosophy.’”

There has been no confirmation of reports the beer causes nausea and heartburn among conservatives.

Anger management

From our “Hell of an Effort” department comes this bit of spin from New York Rep. Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, after Democrats lost a special election in Virginia last week.

“Unfortunately, we fell short, but to finish 52-48 is damn good,” Lowey said of Republican Randy Forbes’ win over Democrat Louise Lucas.

So you see, Democrats didn’t lose. They won the silver! Despite Lowey’s gallant efforts, considering the previous incumbent was a Democrat, clearly there is a case to be made that 52-48 is, in fact, not “damn good.”

Of course, had Democrats won, we’d all be deluged with comments from Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe about how this was a clear referendum on President Bush’s first months in office. One Free Republic poster put it this way:



“If [Forbes] had lost I can imagine Little Dick Gephardt and the Democrats crowing on the national nightly newscasts and in the New York Times on how the President’s agenda was repudiated in a state he handily carried in the election last year.”

Instead, we get this:

“It would be a mistake to take today’s election results and attempt to divine some national trend,” Lowey told the Washington Post. “There was no national theme to this race, and neither side spent a dime talking about President Bush.”

But as a recent press releases from Lowey’s counterpart at the National Republican Congressional Committee points out, “President Bush wrote a letter to over 50,000 Virginians asking them to support Randy Forbes. This letter specifically called for them to vote for Forbes to support the President’s agenda. Over 66,000 phone calls were made with a message from President Bush to 4th district voters. Vice President Cheney and other cabinet members visited the district to support Forbes as well.”

As is to be expected, Republicans’ counterspin was that the Forbes victory was all but a guarantee that the GOP will retain control of the House after the midterm elections. “The national media touted this race as a referendum on President Bush’s agenda,” the release states. “This race indicates that defense spending, Social Security, and the general direction of our country are concerns of citizens at all levels.”

As is so often the case, the truth is probably lost somewhere in the expanse between Lowey and the NRCC.

For more Red vs. Blue, click here.

Submit your own rant or direct us to a good political online discussion by e-mailing us at redvsblue@salon.com, or jump right into a Table Talk discussion about Red vs. Blue.

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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