And now a list where it’s good to rank low … Gawker, maybe because it’s August and they’re bored with ripping knucklehead celebrities and politicians, has launched a countdown of “The Worst States.” Minnesota made No. 45, making us the sixth “least worst” state. Says Gawker: “45. Minnesota: The land o’ lakes sometimes appears to be about as perfect a slice of Americana as can be. But of course Americana is often a scary, terrible thing. The Good: The Twin Cities area tends to be a pragmatically progressive, pleasant place to live. There’s lots of good cultural stuff like theater and all that. Outside of Minneapolis/St. Paul, there is lots of picturesque, Scandinavian-tilled farmland dotted with lakes. That landscape is also, at one point anyway, dotted with the Mall of America, an enormous shopping complex complete with indoor Nickelodeon theme park. If that’s too crassly commercial for you, down the road a bit is the (disputed) world’s largest ball of twine. Oh, and one of Minnesota’s senators is Stuart Smalley! The best thing about Minnesota, though? Fried food.
“The Bad: Uh, well, the government shut down. [MinnPost story.] Also, Michele Bachmann. The conservative movement is only growing in Minnesota, and though it seems like a gently folksy kinda place, it’s not always so pleasant. But really the main way that Minnesota is [bleep-y]? It’s cold.” The cold? Pathetic weinies!
She’s going to be our … what? Brian Montopoli of CBS News follows Our Favorite Congresswoman in South Carolina. “Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann said Thursday that she is the ‘hombre-ette’ to represent voters in Washington. Appearing in Columbia, South Carolina, Bachmann cast herself as ‘one little fighter.’ ‘We need one strong hombre or hombre-ette, and I’m the hombre-ette to go and stand for you in Washington DC,’ Bachmann said. … Hombre is the Spanish word for man. The Spanish word for woman is mujer.”
The Canuckistanis aren’t mincing their words over Our Congresswoman. In the Montreal Gazette, Janet Bagnall writes: “If Michele Bachmann had emerged 40 years ago, it would have felt like the Old Boys who ran the world had a point. Bigoted and uninformed, Bachmann could have served as Exhibit A for the inherent unsuitability of women for high, or even low, public office. But if the last 40 years have proved anything, it’s that women are supremely capable in the workplace, at school and in public office. So why among thousands upon thousands of educated, competent, knowledgeable women in the United States is Bachmann being taken seriously as a candidate for a presidential nomination? Precisely because she represents a vision of 1950s America that is untouched by modern life, with its sexual and reproductive freedoms, the influx of minority populations right into the heartland of the U.S., and the need to adapt to an increasingly globalized world. But Bachmann, 55, the mother of five children, has managed to appeal to both a rural constituency that views big-city American life with distrust verging on horror and people in the big cities who can help fund her run.”
By now, have you seen or heard of the Mother Jones piece on “Dr. Bachmann”? Says Tim Murphy: “In 2000, when Bachmann knocked off incumbent GOP state Sen. Gary Laidig at the district nominating convention, the [Maple River Education Coalition] fired off a news release repeatedly invoking their candidate’s honorarium. “On the first ballot, Dr. Michele Bachmann was endorsed 62% to Laidig’s 38%,” it read. “Dr. Bachmann herself, who arrived at her convention with no intention of running, was shocked by her victory.” (The narrative, promoted by the congresswoman, that she was an unlikely candidate is false — Bachmann had announced her candidacy months earlier and laid the groundwork for the upset by stacking the convention with anti-Profile [of Learning] activists.) ‘Dr. Bachmann’ might have given the activist a bit more gravitas, but it was not an appropriate title. Bachmann received a J.D. — the standard law school degree — from Oral Roberts University, and an LL.M. in tax law from William & Mary in 1988. The LL.M. does count as a postdoctoral degree, as Bachmann says, because it came after she had received a ‘terminal degree’ — that is, a degree that can’t be directly improved upon. But while J.D. (juris doctor) has the word ‘doctor’ in it, it is not accepted practice for J.D.’s to refer to themselves as ‘Dr.’.” From now on, you can call me, “pasha.”
Former presidential contender Tim Pawlenty was dropping off his daughter at Kansas University in Lawrence Wednesday. Andy Hyland of the Lawrence Journal World reports: “Bryan Reynolds walked up to the former Minnesota governor and former GOP candidate for president with his iPhone in hand. He held it out, and asked Pawlenty to say something ‘hip’ that would help him get a job in the media. I asked Reynolds if he would mind sharing the results with all of us. Sure, Reynolds said, as long as I would put in a plug for his radio show. I told him, no, absolutely not. I have standards, and there was just no way that I would be able to mention that people can catch him doing a political radio show on KJHK at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays called ‘Talk of the Hill.’ But Reynolds, being a good chap, agreed to send me the sound bite anyway. And so, I’m passing it along to you. Pawlenty was apparently a pretty good sport about all this, and the results are pretty amusing, if you ask me.” (There’s audio at the link.)
Where are those voter IDs when we needed them? Mark Stodghill of the Duluth News Tribune writes: “Six people have recently been charged in St. Louis County with a felony crime that is rarely seen on a Northeastern Minnesota court docket: ‘Voting while ineligible.’ It’s a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, but a conviction most likely will result in a probationary sentence. Under Minnesota law, a person is ineligible to vote if their civil rights had not been restored after being convicted of treason, or any felony, or while under a guardianship in which a court order revoked the ward’s right to vote, or if found by a court of law to be legally incompetent. All six of the people charged — four at the St. Louis County District Court in Duluth and two at the St. Louis County District Court in Hibbing — are accused of being convicted felons when they allegedly voted in the November 2008 general election.” The story doesn’t say who they swung the election for.
GOP Sen. Dave Senjem was one of a handful of legislators to appear at a luncheon with the Rochester Chamber of Commerce. He actually suggested legislators get along pretty well up in St. Paul. So the Rochester Post-Bulletin sees the need to editorialize, saying: “[W]ith all due respect to Sen. Senjem, we have to say we were dumbfounded by his extensive comments about how well lawmakers from opposing parties get along. … Pardon us for choking on our bacon. … maybe we were at a different meeting than you, Sen. Senjem, but the tone of Tuesday’s discussion didn’t exactly sound all that collegial and friendly to us. … ‘The biggest gain was that we didn’t pass a $39 billion budget,’ Republican Sen. Carla Nelson of Rochester said. ‘That would have been a $4 billion tax increase’. … You can talk all you want, Sen. Senjem, about how well legislators from both parties get along behind closed doors. But the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding smells pretty rancid to us right now. The fact that there were at least five seconds of silence after the legislative panel was asked to list the greatest accomplishments of the 2011 Legislative session speaks volumes.”
Speaking of trying to keep your food down … In Texas, the boys all want to grow up to be cowboys (or at least drive a pickup). In Wisconsin, they dream of becoming “professional eaters.” The AP reports: “ Two men with big appetites have won a pizza challenge in Oshkosh by downing 12 pounds of pizza in an hour. Clay Luttrell and Juan Rodriquez became the first duo in four years to finish Polito’s Monster Pizza Challenge. The challenge dares teams of two to finish 12 pounds of pizza in an hour, with no vomiting or trips to the restroom allowed. … Luttrell and Rodriquez won Aug. 9 at the Oshkosh location of the Stevens Point-based restaurant. A Stevens Point Journal report says the challenge has drawn more than 300 attempts. Two ‘professional’ eaters are scheduled to take the challenge Friday, including a man who once ate a steak weighing nearly 5-1/2 pounds.” The gallon of paint thinner he washed it down with is what was really impressive.
Food critic Kathie Jenkins of the PiPress offers up one of those “tip sheet” lists that are actually more useful than where you can drop $185 on lunch. Says Jenkins, “2. Greater American Ribs cooks 80,000 pounds of pork loin baby-back ribs a week for such private labels as Lunds/Byerly’s and Rudolph’s (not to be confused with the Minneapolis rib joint). The tender, flavorful ribs also are sold under the Sunset Creek brand at various places, including the company’s own shop in Woodbury … 8. Carrie’s Popcorn Wagon (street level, Alliance Bank Center, 56 E. Sixth St., St. Paul; 651-292-1639). has the best popcorn in downtown St. Paul. It’s always freshly popped (in soybean oil) and drizzled with real butter. Most people get small, medium or large. But there’s another choice — humongous, about four gallons, that is perfect for parties. It’s available plain ($7), buttered ($8) and triple mix ($18).” Dang, I used to live off Carrie’s popcorn.