Jane, you ignorant slut

We've got fan mail! Plus: Where, oh where is Ernie the Cat? And: Will it be Ben Stein vs. Arnold Schwarzenegger in California?

By Anthony York
Published April 6, 2001 4:48PM (EDT)

Big Buzz
Special high-fiber edition

Fan letters are nothing new here at Red vs. Blue. In fact, while the nation may be divided along sharp partisan lines, as the map above indicates, there is a deep, bipartisan consensus that this column is the mortal enemy. This week alone, we've received notice for being on the payroll of the RNC, on the payroll of the DNC, of being a snide conservative Bush-lover and a recount-obsessed Gore lover. I've even been accused of generally lacking in a high-fiber diet. All of which, of course, is true.

But one letter writer has been particularly prolific this week. Ms. Tamara Baker of the American Politics Journal. Here's a little sample, in response to an earlier column that said the response from the left was muted after the results of the Miami Herald recount were released, showing Bush to be the winner:

Dear Mr. York: RE: The alleged silence of 'left-leaning websites' on the MH's spinning its own recount results to create a "Bush victory" -- 1) Did you know that Jake Tapper did an article for Salon this morning wherein he dumped on the Herald for spinning the results in Bush's favor? 2) Check this out, from Ampol (in the mailing list, soon to be on the website). Enjoy! And what would you like with your crow, sir? I recommend fava beans and a nice Chianti, myself.
Sincerely, Tamara Baker
American Politics Journal

A sea of e-mails followed from Baker and her ilk. And I'm not talking one of them dinky little seas like the Mediterranean. I'm talking the Pacific.

Now, just what the Hannibal Lecter reference was supposed to mean, I'm still unsure. (Perhaps a play on the silence of the Left alluded to in the column? Probably too clever, judging from the rest of the e-mails I received.) But as for the crow, I politely decline. At the time the column was posted, there was indeed a muted response from the left. Buzzflash.com had a headline which read something like: Bush wins the recount, but the Herald is run by the Moonies! And besides, there are still overvotes out there.

A quick glance at Online Journal and other lefty sites showed little or no response. So I didn't check Baker's American Politics Journal. So sue me!

As to Baker's point about Tapper's Salon article, the piece did take some shots at the Herald, but it was certainly more critical of the Gore campaign and did not contradict this central truth -- if the Florida Supreme Court order had been carried out, using the dimpled standards that Gore campaign was advocating, Bush would still have carried Florida.

But in fairness, by the end of the day Thursday, the left was back up and running with their "Bush stole the election" rants.

So here's a little roundup for you, through Friday afternoon:

American Politics Journal: "Miami Herald: Gore would win under Bush rules -- Palm Beach and Broward tossed valid Gore votes -- and there are still uncounted votes!" Strangely absent was the Herald's conclusion that Bush would win under the Gore rules.

Democrats.com: "Media Lies Once Again to Declare Bush the Winner ... When USA Today declares 'Newspapers' Recount Shows Bush Prevailed In Fla. Vote,' they are simply lying."

Consortium News.com: "So Gore Really Won? In a stunning reversal, the Miami Herald now reports that its review of the Florida election reveals that Al Gore could have gained 2.022 net votes in Palm Beach and Broward counties and thus won the election."

Online Journal: "Once again, the media try to con the people into believing Bush won. With each little game the major media, with the exception of the Palm Beach Post, are playing with the Florida ballots in a feeble attempt to legitimize the illegitimate Bush administration, it becomes clearer and clearer, that, if one carefully reads what they are saying, Al Gore won the Sunshine State, was entitled to its 25 electoral votes and should be residing in the White House today.

But not all the venom is reserved for the writer of this column. Take this letter from Beth Adelman, criticizing First Lady Laura Bush.

Dear Mrs. Bush,

I was very distressed to learn that Ernie, your cat, has gone missing in Brentwood -- apparently far more distressed than you and your family were, if news reports are to be believed. Your press secretary, Noelia Rodriguez, is quoted as saying on your behalf that the members of the Bush family "know that Ernie has a record of landing in some good homes, so maybe his third life will be just as nice." And "they realize that he is a free spirit, and hope he is having fun on the beaches of Malibu."

Do you think Ernie is sun tanning on the beach and drinking piqa coladas, chatting up the lady cats and getting tasty handouts from sightseers? Lost cats are scared, vulnerable and alone. They are subject to attacks by wild animals, more street-savvy feral cats and cruel humans. They usually end up dead in a car accident, from starvation or poisoning or from feline diseases. Contrary to popular myth, cats are not semi-wild animals who do just fine roaming the streets. Perhaps you recall that when you found Ernie, he was a kitten in a tree, wet and helpless. He was terrified being out on his own. Nothing has changed.

It was incredibly irresponsible of you to relocate Ernie, who grew up in a relatively unpopulated, semi-rural area, to a busy suburb of Los Angeles. Perhaps the only thing more irresponsible is that now that he's lost and is in grave danger, you've instructed your press secretary to tell the world the Bush family is not concerned and wishes him well in his new life. At this point he likely has no life at all. It's too bad this thought about a cat you rescued and raised arouses no concern in your family.

Regardless of your feelings, given your position of national and worldwide prominence, it behooves you to set an example of responsible pet ownership. When you adopted Ernie, you assumed responsibility for him for his entire life. Your irresponsible actions, coupled with your lack of concern over his current welfare, only contributes to the problem (now reaching crisis proportions) of stray and feral cats abandoned across America. By your attitude and your actions, you tell millions of Americans that itms OK to move away and leave their cats behind, let their cats out on busy streets unsupervised, drop them off in parks and mall parking lots, because cats are so resourceful that they just all find new an better lives for themselves. Millions of cats are suffering across America because of these attitudes that you have chosen to perpetuate. As the First Lady, you are a roll model. I am disappointed that you are not a better one for pet owners.


Drudge Report: "Freak: Operation Moves Monkey's Head Onto Different Body; Scientists Plot 'Human Trial'"
Media Whores Online: "Compassionate Bush Evicts His Own Cat"
Buzzflash.com: "The UPI is a Propaganda Tool for the Bush Administration"
WorldNet Daily: "Why Bush looks soft on China"
TomPaine.com: "Ralph Nader and the Right"

Anger management

Is there a back story here? In his latest column, Hotline's Howard Mortman teed off on GOP Convention speaker and TV game show host Ben Stein for giving a lackluster performance at the annual Radio and Television Correspondents dinner in Washington.

Comedy Central CEO Larry Divney said the flu was to blame for Stein's less-than-stellar performance, but Mortman wasn't biting, firing off an impressively alphabetical list of insults Stein's way. "I have other thoughts. In a word, Stein was abysmal boring churlish dopey embarrassing feeble galling half-a**ed idiotic juvenile kitschy lame moronic nauseating oafish pompous queasy ridiculous stale tasteless unseemly vulgar witless X-rated yucky zima ... Oh, and flu-ridden."

And if that weren't enough: "Stein even managed to make C-Span funnier by comparison," Mortman writes. "The C-Span announcer matched his delivery monotone-for-monotone."

Perhaps the clue as to why Ben Stein bombed lies in today's New York Times op-ed pages. The bulk of Collins' Friday column is dedicated to the lameness of California Gov. Gray Davis. But Collins, like all journalists, is hungry for a good election brawl in 2002, and invokes the name of every reporter's favorite would-be candidate, GOP gubernatorial wannabe Arnold Schwarzenegger. But, she adds, "Beyond the actor formerly known as Conan the Barbarian and his own mystery candidate, [Republican political consultant Sal] Russo said the list of possible [Republican candidates] includes Robert Conrad the actor and Ben Stein the comedian.

So maybe it wasn't the flu. Maybe it was political fever.

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Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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