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Contrarian Michele Bachmann worries BP will get ‘fleeced’

ALSO: Apple wars, corporate campaign funds, and Horner and Hecker in separate spotlights.

Finally, someone showing a little Christian concern for poor, embattled British Petroleum. With Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the only thing for certain is a predictable level of batty contrarianism. But this one … She’s getting plenty of attention in some sectors, if not her two local dailies, for her Wednesday comments, which followed the announcement of the $20 billion escrow fund to cover claims coming out of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. She says that BP, currently turning the Gulf into a waste holding tank, needs to watch out so it doesn’t get played for a “chump” and get “fleeced” by President Obama. The Washington Post’s David Weigel, the paper’s designated reporter for “the conservative movement and the Republican Party,” cornered Bachmann after a Heritage Foundation luncheon. This is where she said: “They shouldn’t have to be fleeced and made chumps to have to pay for perpetual unemployment and all the rest — they’ve got to be legitimate claims. ‘The other thing we have to remember is that Obama loves to make evil whatever company it is that he wants to get more power from. He makes them evil, and what we’ve got to ask ourselves is: Do we really want to be paying $9 for a gallon of gas? Because that could be the final result of this.’ “

The Hill’s “E2 Wire”, its energy and environment blog, writes: “She alleged the new system is part of a troubling pattern, citing the federal stakes taken in insurance giant AIG, ailing banks and big automakers. ‘This is a complete difference in the way that the United States was run 18 months ago. But today, it seems like the automatic effort from the government is let’s have the federal government take over private industry,’ Bachmann said. ‘We don’t want that to be the automatic response of government, because we’re a free-market economy. And unfortunately, the Obama administration hasn’t been making any efforts to unwind the government out of these private industries.’ ” As I say, Bachmann’s latest does not rise to a level of significance for either the Strib or PiPress to include it in their formal coverage.

Simultaneously, Bachmann is continuing her braiding work on religion and politics. Andy Birkey at the Minnesota Independent writes that next week Bachmann will headline political training for Christian homeschoolers — “called Generation Joshua.” He says: ” ‘GenJ’ trains homeschooled Christian teens to get involved with political campaigns through door-knocking, phone-banking and other activities in order to ‘help America return to her Judeo-Christian foundations.’ Bachmann has used these teams to win her own campaigns for Congress.” Birkey quotes Ned Ryun, co-founder of GenJ, saying: ” ‘Quite frankly with the hymn ‘Soldiers of Christ, Arise’ running through my head, I want to inspire young Christians to fight for what is right. There are many issues facing us today that will impact America for generations, same-sex marriage being a key one.’ ” Oh yeah, a gargantuan oil spill pales next to a gay couple barbecuing across the alley.

It’s an apple war! Private growers are coming after the U of M for developing and maintaining exclusivity over a new variety of apple … the SweeTango. Mary Lynn Smith in the Strib explains: “The growers complain that the deal limits the number of trees other orchards can grow and allows them to sell only directly to consumers or individual stores rather than through the wholesalers who are an essential source of revenue for most orchards. The deal also prevents smaller growers from pooling their crops to fill orders from large retail stores.” The private growers also argue that tax money was used to develop the new apple, and the U responds saying that it needs the profits from exclusivity to bolster budgets drained by state cuts.

The Business Journal reports on awards won by both KARE-TV and the Strib. Jim Hammerand writes: “The Twin Cities’ NBC affiliate was honored for its news coverage of the December 2009 blizzard and for a feature about a Frazee teen with cancer who rebuilt a Pontiac Fiero with help from other enthusiasts.” The Star Tribune, meanwhile, won “an overall excellence award for its website, startribune.com.”

Hammerand also files an item about very corporate and proper General Mills getting punk’d with a fake press release. “The press release, issued around 11 p.m. Tuesday, said the Golden Valley-based food company’s supply chain was under federal investigation after a series of product recalls.” To this, The General responded: ” ‘This information did not come from the company’, General Mills spokesman Tom Forsythe said in a statement. ‘It was not authorized or confirmed by the company. We are shocked that it was posted. It was quite clearly and obviously a hoax.’ ” (MinnPost’s Brad Allen offers background here.)

The controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision clearing the way for corporate campaign funds
will get its first serious test here in Minnesota this fall. Gov. Pawlenty’s spokesman, Brian McClung, is leaving his state job at the end of the week to lead an entity called MN Forward, an alliance of the Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Business Partnership. The Strib story, by Baird Helgeson and Pat Doyle, says: “MN Forward leaders hope to raise at least $2 million, from small businesses to corporate behemoths like 3M. That’s at least four times what the chamber raised in other years from individual contributions. MN Forward will work ‘with a broad coalition of Minnesota job creators to elect candidates from both parties who support policies that enhance job growth in Minnesota,’ said David Olson, chamber president.” Well, as long as there’s a direct correlation between corporate well-being and job creation? Right? … Right?

Really? “No endorsement” by the AFL-CIO? After interviews with Mark Dayton, Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Tom Horner? MPR’s “Polinaut” blog, posted by Tim Pugmire, says: “The labor organization announced the decision Wednesday afternoon after screening [the] three candidates … A 70-member board then voted, but Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson says no candidate met the two-thirds threshold of support.”

Horner spent a couple of hours Wednesday fielding questions
on The Same Rowdy Crowd blog (of which I am a member). Asked about the quixotic nature of third-party candidacies, Horner responded: “I wouldn’t be in this if I didn’t think from the beginning that I would win. 2010 isn’t 2006 when Peter [Hutchinson] had to run against an incumbent and a very skilled DFL politician. This is more like 1998 when Ventura won NOT because he wore a boa, but because he had the opportunity when the DFL campaign failed to gain traction and ended at 28%. Here’s the reality this year: Emmer can’t hold on to his own base and is losing the 1/3 of GOP who are moderates to me. You need no more evidence of that than the attacks on me coming from the right wing. If Dayton is the DFL nominee, there will be at least 1/3 of Dems who are disaffected. That puts the race into the hands of the one-fourth of MN voters who are small “i” independents. If that’s the case, I win.”

Oh, come on. Give us a little Denny Hecker love. The ex-car dealer is sweating out a court decision on the $1 million consulting fee built into the sale of his Inver Grove Heights dealership last year. He says it is his only remaining source of income. Bankruptcy trustees see it differently. They basically don’t see Denny keeping any money from any of his past deals. Dee DePass’s Strib story says: “Hecker, his attorney, the bankruptcy trustee and creditors expected a ruling Wednesday. But in a surprise move, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel refused to rule or even hear arguments on the matter. Kressel said he was only concerned with whether a settlement agreement reached this week by the trustee and Midwest Motors was a good deal for Hecker’s bankruptcy estate. The settlement would reduce and redistribute Midwest Motor’s consulting fee to Hecker, paying the trustee $65,000, two of Hecker’s creditors $350,000 combined, and Hecker nothing beyond a $100,000 loan he secured early on from Midwest Motors executives. Hecker has objected.”

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MaryJo Webster’s PiPress story quotes a couple of good e-mails between Hecker and the buyer of the Inver Grove Heights Toyota dealership. But a big part of the compulsive appeal of the Hecker saga are the odd, stray details — the $60,000 fur coats, the $30,000 dogs, the Rolex watch collection (some of which were fake). Today’s is the used truck. Says Webster, “In the proposal, Hecker also would get a used Toyota Tundra pickup truck and be forgiven a $100,000 loan from Midwest Motors. The documents [bankruptcy trustee] Seaver’s attorney, James Jorissen, filed Tuesday say the truck and the loan forgiveness were part of the deal Hecker negotiated at the time of the sale.” What? As in, “Oh, by the way, in addition to the $1 million, I want a used pickup”?

City Pages’ “Gimme Noise” blog announces that the popular, but canceled, “Music and Movies in the Park” (in Loring Park) has been re-born (with some assistance from City Pages). Says Andrea Swensson: “Upon hearing that the event was in jeopardy and hearing the massive outcry from the Minneapolis community, City Pages and Lunds (who both have helped sponsor the event in the past) stepped forward to coordinate with the Park Board and ensure that the popular event would still go off without a hitch. Continuing in the spirit of the former ‘Music & Movies’ series, we will showcase bands from the Twin Cities’ diverse and historic music scene followed by a movie with Minnesota ties, selected by Twin Cities residents. Voting for the movies will take place on the City Pages site from June 28 to July 19, and the winning movies and band lineup will be announced on July 28.”

The foodie site “Heavy Table” often gets points for daring to get up in the face of popular restaurateurs other writers treat like delicate, flaky pastries/vital advertisers. Sometimes its just fussy … in a classic fussy foodie way. Witness blogger Alyssa Vance going after the vigorously expansion-minded Parasole group (gasp!), including its Salut Amercain stores: “Salut is slowly adding menu items that are, in fact, not French. Doesn’t this go against the Parasole theme of opening concept-driven restaurants? (Though on Cafeteria’s website, they’re quick to point out that the concept is, in fact, having no concept at all.) What are Ricotta Hushpuppies doing in the hors d’oeuvres? Isn’t bolognese of Italian descent? Miso Red Snapper served with bok choy doesn’t sound very French to me. This didn’t make sense. Not from Parasole. Burger Jones serves … burgers. Plus the standard pairings: shakes, fries, and the works. Manny’s is renowned for its red meat and mammoth portions, and expected steakhouse sides like buttery hash browns and heaping plates of veggies. Good Earth’s menu is filled with dishes that are, well, good for your body. These restaurants have clear, concise concepts that are carried out in food, décor, and ambiance. But it seems that Salut has been quietly introducing non-French menu items without any explanation.” No explanation!? Zut alors!