Thursday, September 30, 2004


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 30, 2004

You decide which is sillier:

Having an actor from a popular 1980s sitcom come talk about your candidate’s plan for alternate energy, or reacting to said celeb as if his very presence is an affront to decent people in the state?

John Kerry’s campaign in New Mexico touted a Tuesday appearance in Albuquerque by actor Ted Danson, who played the unrepentant horndog Sam Malone in the old NBC television hit Cheers. According to the press release, Danson came to discus “John Kerry's plan to make America stronger by breaking our dependence on foreign oil, and investing in new technologies and alternative fuels to create high paying jobs and protect our environment.”

Sounds like a tall order for a TV bartender.

Danson, a former Santa Fe resident, was accompanied by state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Secretary Joanna Prukop and state Sen. Richard Romero, D-Albuquerque, who is running for Congress against incumbent Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.

According to one television report, about 100 people showed for the rally. It’s hard to say whether any votes were swayed.

I didn’t go.

I’m waiting for Norm and Cliff to come here to talk about the nation’s trade deficit.

Actually I didn’t pay the Danson visit much mind. But then I got an e-mail on behalf of a Republican legislator who took advantage of the Danson rally to engage in some good old-fashioned celebrity bashing.

“John Kerry thinks the heart and soul of our nation is represented by Hollywood liberals like Ted Danson, but President Bush knows the heart and soul of America is found in places like New Mexico,” said Rep. Brian Moore of Clayton, echoing almost word for word a stump-speech applause line used by Bush himself in various locales, including a speech in Albuquerque last month.

“New Mexicans have done well with President Bush’s tax cuts,” Moore’s statement said. “We don’t need a Hollywood actor to tell us differently.”

Conservatives in recent years seem to take great offense at entertainers getting involved in politics.

Except Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or Charlton Heston. Or Ronald Reagan.

The war on literacy: You’ll have to move quick to see this one for yourself because if the governor’s office reads this first, it’ll be gone, or at least corrected.

But as of Wednesday afternoon, a Sept. 8 press release on Gov. Bill Richardson’s official state Web site ( announced that First Lady Barbara Richardson was declaring that day “International Literacy Day.”

“The facts speak for themselves — poor reading skills translate directly into poor student achievement, higher dropout rates, and lower financial and personal success,” Mrs. Richardson said in the statement.

That’s undoubtedly true.

But the next sentence made a surprising contradiction, quoting the first lady as saying, “Ending literacy will guarantee a more prosperous future for all New Mexicans.”

{Note: The Literacy Day press release in its original form was still on the governor's Web site at 8:30 a.m. today, but before 9:30 a.m. it was gone.}

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