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Franken’s beef with Swift Boat backer heats up blogs

Political blogs weigh in on T. Boone Pickens tiff. Also: Minnesota’s in Episcopal feud, Keillor bookstore break-in, and lots of Vikings training camp “details.”

If you have a short memory for political smears, you can be forgiven for thinking the name T. Boone Pickens is the name of one of those bottles of fortified wines that you’ll occasionally see smashed on the sidewalk in especially disreputable parts of town. Al Franken, it seems, remembers mud-flinging at least back to 2004, as Politico reports that the junior Democratic senator from Minnesota had some lively words with Pickens for the hedge fund chair’s financial backing of the Swift Boat campaign against presidential hopeful John Kerry that painted the Vietnam War vet as being less than heroic during his time in Vietnam. Politico quotes Franken spokeswoman Jess McIntosh: “It was a lively conversation.”

Right-wing blogs were quick to try and capitalize on this event. Powerline condemned Franken, describing him as having a “hostile, hyper-partisan temperament”; we will note that this seems to be a peculiar thing for Powerline to complain about, as it is its very own stock in trade: Without a hint of irony, it began its critique by characterizing Franken as a “bitter, angry man.” Similar examples of hostility and hyper-partisanship could be found on The American Spectator, which declared that this was the start of a long-expected meltdown. This is not to say the quality of the discourse has been unblemished on the left, as demonstrated by the Anti War Blog starting its retelling of the event with the words “Billionaire gasbag ‘T Boone’ Pickens has made a bold attempt over the last year to transform his image of oil-greased rightwing godfather to grandfatherly wind energy guru.” Hostility and hyper-partisanship still seem to be a popular way of communicating online, and it’s a bit surprising that anybody would critique Franken for it. Perhaps they feel he would be a better political blogger than senator.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T Rybak has been cagey on whether or not he is considering a gubernatorial run, but he was considerably more forthcoming in a meeting with supporters last week in Eagan, recorded by The UpTake: “I want to tell you, I’m looking very hard at entering this race,” Rybak said, “and I’m very likely to enter this race, because this state needs a change.”

Minnesota has found itself front and center, along with Los Angeles, in an ongoing internecine feud in the Episcopal Church, as reported by the New York Times. The issue is that of gays and lesbians in the church’s ranks, and the Minnesota Episcopal Diocese currently has a lesbian in consideration for bishop. There had been a de facto moratorium on advancing gays and lesbians in the church ranks for three years, a response to a rift that occurred after New Hampshire installed an openly gay man as its bishop; this ban was lifted three weeks ago. As the Times reports, Los Angeles is similarly looking at two gay clerics as candidates for assistant bishop jobs.

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H1N1 in the news: MPR’s Tim Nelson reports that Minnesota health officials are ramping up for fall flu season, including the possibility of a return of the virus; the AP adds that the Health Department is recommending parents have plans for what would happen if their child gets the swine flu and must miss school for an extended period as a result. But how likely is that? Well, last week a CDC flu expert put the number of Americans without access to a vaccine who could potentially be sickened by H1N1 at 12 percent to 14 percent.

The AP tells us that U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu will be in Rochester today to look at locally created renewable energy projects, including “mobile self-contained ethanol plant and solar-powered cars.” Although the AP notes that Chu is a Nobel Prize winner, a commenter on the Star Tribune was typically unimpressed. “Nobel prize winner. Big deal,” the commenter complained. “They gave one to Gore also.”

In a move that seems designed to guarantee her lifelong infamy, Apple Valley resident Connie Marie Hanson has admitted to embezzling approximately $1 million from veterans. According to the Associated Press, Hanson was a fiduciary for 33 veterans and took money from their accounts to support a gambling habit.

It’s not clear what she could have done to make herself disreputable, except, perhaps, to travel to St. Paul to rob Garrison Keillor’s bookstore, Common Good Books. Seems unlikely that Hanson was behind the Thursday break-in at the bookstore, during which a thief stole the store’s safe and damaged the cash registers. According to Anthony Lonetree of the Star Tribune, the thief, as described in a Tweet by the store, was a “goateed loser in longshorts and a Longhorns cap carrying a safe at 1:20 last night.”

It’s Day Four of the Viking’s Training camp, and the Star Tribune is blogging it in minute detail. For instance, today we discover that “the team will be in pads and there will be full contact in today’s practice.” Scintillating. Perhaps these sorts of picayune details are important in the ramp-up to the football season, however, as the end of the baseball season is getting positively depressing. As the Pioneer Press notes, the Twins had a bad weekend, and it lays the blame at the feet of the team’s pitchers: Twins starter Glen Perkins, the paper notes, “gave up four runs on seven hits through four innings before beginning an unraveling that’s by now customary for this pitching staff.”