There isn’t much time left until the elections, and if you haven’t noticed, there hasn’t been much by way of debates between Michele Bachmann and her challengers. There was a scheduled debate back in August, but Bachmann skipped it. Annie Baxter of Minnesota Public Radio wanted to nail down whether or not there would be debating, and so she did what any journalist would do — she called Bachmann’s spokesman Sergio Gor. At the end of her talk with him, she was so confused by his answers that she just went ahead and posted the transcript. Sample exchange:
BAXTER: When you say you confirmed … you mean you RSVP’d? You’re not saying you affirmatively responded?
GOR: We’ve affirmatively responded.
BAXTER: You have affirmatively responded to more than one venue.
GOR: To several, correct.
BAXTER: That means you are participating in more than one debate?
GOR: Those are your words.
There was no question as to whether or not there would be a gubernatorial debate Sunday night. There was one. “The debate focused on Minnesota and the world,” WCCO tells us, which covers a lot of territory, even if it excludes, say, the moon and the solar system.
Jason Hoppin of the Pioneer Press was a bit more specific: “[T]hey discussed trade, immigration and taxes.” While much of the territory covered was pretty well-trod (Dayton wants to tax the rich; Horner wants to raise sales taxes; Emmer wants to cut spending), a discussion about homeless veterans prompted an interesting exchange. Dayton mentioned job training, which would be extended to all Minnesotans. “If (government) could provide everything to everybody that they ever wanted, it would be easy,” Emmer responded. “But that’s not the way it works.” So, if Emmer is elected, we at the Glean can probably abandon our hope that the government will buy us a Batmobile, as requested. This is very disappointing.
Perhaps a Batmobile is a lot to expect from our candidates, but we should be able to expect that we can access their ads, if we need them — it’s just good politics. And all three major gubernatorial candidates have been pretty quick about putting their campaign materials online. But, as The Uptake points out, all three have been negligent about providing closed captioning for their YouTube ads. And this isn’t just an issue because they are leaving potential voters uninformed (as an interview subject explains, there are a lot of deaf voters who prefer to get their information from the web). According to The Uptake, “Minnesota’s campaign finance law requires that candidates who take money from the state to fund their campaigns must caption their TV and web videos.” Both Emmer and Horner have taken money from the state. Neither have captioned any of the web ads. Dayton has taken no money, so he isn’t obligated by the campaign finance law. He has captioned about half of his ads, however.
While we’re on the subject of elections, Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press discusses one controversial issues that will be affected by the outcome of this election — redistricting. Once the census results are out, the political map of Minnesota will be redrawn, and that can have some pretty significant results, depending on who is doing the drawing. An example: “[S]ome DFLers are quietly musing about expanding McCollum’s St. Paul-based 4th Congressional District, a Democratic stronghold, into Washington County, where Bachmann lives. That, they believe, would put the Republican congresswoman in a district she couldn’t win.” Republicans, in the meanwhile, might revisit their plan to merge Minneapolis and St. Paul into one congressional district, eliminating one seat. That would be one less congressperson, where right now there are two: Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum. Both Democrats.
A few follow-ups to stories from last week: We detailed the spate of student suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin school district, where, in the past year, four teenagers have killed themselves after anti-gay bullying. According to Andy Birkey of Minnesota Independent, the Minnesota Family Council is resisting efforts to create a less hostile climate: “The real issue is ‘homosexual indoctrination,’ not anti-gay bullying, says MFC’s Tom Prichard, who says the students are dead because they adopted an ‘unhealthy lifestyle.’ “
“Troubled Waters,” the bealeagured 57-minute documentary about the agriculture industry’s role in the Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone,” debuted Sunday after University officials had threatened to cancel the screening. The Star Tribune’s Bill McAuliffe reports on the sold-out screening. A second showing was added, which prompted one attendee to note, “I don’t think this would have occurred without the controversy.” What was the controversy? McAuliffe sums it up: “The documentary had been temporarily pulled from scheduled screenings by a university vice president without consultation with any of the film’s public or nonprofit funders.” The reason the film was originally pulled from it schedule was concerns over the film’s fairness in addressing the ag industry and pollution.
In more U of M news, Jezebel offers a retort to a new anti-drinking campaign that can be seen around the University, mostly consisting of images of young people in bars behaving in sexually embarrassing ways, almost all of which seems to be happening around the same pool table at, unless we miss our guess, Sgt. Preston’s. Jezebel’s take on this: “The message: if you get drunk and make out with someone, all your friends will judge you. As they should.“
In arts: The Strib’s gossip columnist, CJ, discusses comedian and Minnesotan Nick Swardson, who now has his own show on Comedy Central called “Pretend Time.” “It’s got to go too far,” Swardson says of the show, which has never really been an issue for him. He is not the first Minnesotan to get a Comedy Central gig — there’s “Mystery Science Theatre,” of course, but then there was also the truncated run of “Let’s Bowl!” Also, at its start, “The Daily Show” was especially Minnesotan, as it was co-created by Minnesota comedian Lizz Winstead and hosted by Minnesotan Craig Kilborn, neither of whom are with the show anymore. I guess what we’re saying is that Comedy Central can be a bit mercurial when it comes to Minnesotans.
In sports: You probably heard the beloved Twins beer vendor Wally the Beer Man was suspended after allegedly selling beer to underage minors. Well, according to the Strib’s Jim Adams, he already has a new gig — selling beer at Sneaky Pete’s. Have your IDs ready, please.