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Bush & GOP Congress Up in Poll, CBS Sees Landscape Good for Dems --9/20/2006


1. Bush & GOP Congress Up in Poll, CBS Sees Landscape Good for Dems
On the very day a USA Today/Gallup poll was released showing President Bush's approval rating up to 44 percent, "his highest rating in a year" according to USA Today's front page story on the survey, a poll that also found the generic Democrat versus Republican choice for Congress even at 48 to 48 percent amongst "likely voters" -- closing from a ten point advantage for Democrats (53 to 43 percent) in a CNN poll of "likely voters" just two weeks ago -- Tuesday's CBS Evening News aired a story on how Bush is hurting GOP incumbents and issues are trending in favor of Democrats. Gloria Borger contended: "Missouri may be a red or Republican state, but Democrats believe the key issues are now turning blue." And what campaign story would be complete without the obligatory disillusioned Republican: "Missouri Democrats are targeting voters like Lindsay McCarroll, a Republican who thinks her party has lost touch."

2. Jon Stewart Trashes Novak as 'Vampire Demon,' Enemy of Democracy
On Monday's edition of The Daily Show on Comedy Central -- the same edition that rolled out the red carpet for Bill Clinton promoting his latest Global Initiative talk-a-thon -- Jon Stewart opened his show by trashing conservative columnist Robert Novak over his C-SPAN critique of Stewart as a self-righteous comedian with airs of grandeur. Admitting he's "mean" and "sophomoric," Stewart described Novak as a heartless "vampire demon," a "terrible person," and even an "enemy of American democracy." AUDIO&VIDEO

3. Alter: Cheney a 'Toxic Combination of Arrogance and Incompetence'
On Monday's Imus in the Morning radio show simulcast on MSNBC, guest Jonathan Alter of Newsweek magazine claimed Vice President Cheney is "reckless and incompetent" with a "toxic combination of arrogance and incompetence," leading Don Imus to compare the Vice President to...the BTK killer. Alter continued his ongoing diatribe against the administration, implying that the administration is un-American for wanting defined rules of interrogation for terror suspects, rather than a broad statement banning anything that "offends the decency of mankind" that is open to broad interpretation and could lead to interrogators later being accused of war crimes. Alter framed the debate as a debate between "heroic" figures like Senators John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsey Graham who want to limit interrogation tactics to our "American values," and the "chicken hawks" in the administration who allegedly favor torture.


Bush & GOP Congress Up in Poll, CBS Sees
Landscape Good for Dems

On the very day a USA Today/Gallup poll was released showing President Bush's approval rating up to 44 percent, "his highest rating in a year" according to USA Today's front page story on the survey, a poll that also found the generic Democrat versus Republican choice for Congress even at 48 to 48 percent amongst "likely voters" -- closing from a ten point advantage for Democrats (53 to 43 percent) in a CNN poll of "likely voters" just two weeks ago -- Tuesday's CBS Evening News aired a story on how Bush is hurting GOP incumbents and issues are trending in favor of Democrats.

Gloria Borger traveled to Missouri where "voters have a history of reflecting the national mood, and right now President Bush is unpopular here. That's why running as a Republican incumbent requires some distance from the President." Looking at the Senate race between incumbent Republican Jim Talent and Democrat Claire McCaskill, Borger contended: "Missouri may be a red or Republican state, but Democrats believe the key issues are now turning blue. And it's not just about the war. In this state, it's also about local issues like an increase in the minimum wage and support for stem cell research, both statewide ballot initiatives the Democrats hope will bring out their voters." And what campaign story would be complete without the obligatory disillusioned Republican: "Missouri Democrats are targeting voters like Lindsay McCarroll, a Republican who thinks her party has lost touch." McCarroll complained: "I don't think they're listening to the people, I don't think they're doing what the people want, so I'm going to vote for someone else this time."

[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The September 19 USA Today article: www.usatoday.com

The Polling Report.com's page on the generic congressional choice by party in polls released this year: www.pollingreport.com

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the video against the closed-captioning to provide this transcript of the September 19 story on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:

Katie Couric: "Election day is just seven weeks from today, and control of the House is up for grabs. The Senate may be as well. Both, of course, are now controlled by the Republicans. So how will this election turn out? National political correspondent Gloria Borger went to a bellwether state for tonight's 'Eye on Politics.'"

Gloria Borger, over a teen holding a ham: "This champion ham fetched a fat ten grand for the 4-H club at the Missouri State Fair. But the glad-handers outside the tent were more interested in politics than pork."
Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democratic Senate candidate: "Good morning, guys."
Borger: "The Missouri Senate race is a dead heat brawl. While the Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill calls for change in Washington-"
McCaskill to fair attendees: "I think everybody's had enough, don't you think?"
Borger: "-the Republican incumbent Jim Talent declares his independence from Washington."
Senator Jim Talent (R-MO), to Borger: "I'm an agent of change, and I always have run that way."
Borger: "With control of the Senate hanging by just six seats, both parties call this a must-win, and the themes playing here are being re-run in tight races all across the country. Missouri voters have a history of reflecting the national mood, and right now President Bush is unpopular here. That's why running as a Republican incumbent requires some distance from the President -- on the Iraq War in particular. Now, you said the administration has made some mistakes."
Talent: "Oh, yes."
Borger: "What areas and where?"
Talent: "They underestimated how difficult it would be to pacify the central part of the country. I mean, they clearly thought we could get in and out quickly."
Borger: "Try as he might to run as his own man, Jim Talent is tied to President Bush by his Democratic opponent at every opportunity."
McCaskill, to Borger: "Well, he agrees with President bush more than I agree with my husband."
Borger: "Missouri may be a red or Republican state, but Democrats believe the key issues are now turning blue. And it's not just about the war. In this state, it's also about local issues like an increase in the minimum wage and support for stem cell research, both statewide ballot initiatives the Democrats hope will bring out their voters."
Clip of ad: "The stem cell initiative will prevent any unfair bans."
Lindsay McCarroll to McCaskill: "I'm really excited about what you're doing."
Borger: "Missouri Democrats are targeting voters like Lindsay McCarroll, a Republican who thinks her party has lost touch."
Lindsay McCarroll, Missouri voter: "I don't think they're listening to the people, I don't think they're doing what the people want, so I'm going to vote for someone else this time."
Borger: "In any other year, Jim Talent might have been considered a sure thing, but this election environment is tough for Republican incumbents."
Talent: "2004 was a better year, there's no question."
Borger: "So Talent wants to make this personal."
Talent: "When they get to know you, they tend to vote based on what they know rather than on a national perspective. And this is why people in both parties win elections even when the national climate's not so good."
Borger: "Voters in the Show Me State have an uncanny knack for predicting winners. They've picked all the presidents since 1960 and now they could determine who wins the Senate. Gloria Borger, CBS News, Sedalia, Missouri."

Jon Stewart Trashes Novak as 'Vampire
Demon,' Enemy of Democracy

On Monday's edition of The Daily Show on Comedy Central -- the same edition that rolled out the red carpet for Bill Clinton promoting his latest Global Initiative talk-a-thon -- Jon Stewart opened his show by trashing conservative columnist Robert Novak over his C-SPAN critique of Stewart as a self-righteous comedian with airs of grandeur. Admitting he's "mean" and "sophomoric," Stewart described Novak as a heartless "vampire demon," a "terrible person," and even an "enemy of American democracy."


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More See & Hear the Bias

[This item by Tim Graham was posted Tuesday, with video, on the MRC's NewsBusters.org blog. The audio/video clip will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to watch Windows Media or Real video, or listen to an mp3 audio clip, go to: newsbusters.org ]

MRC's Brad Wilmouth noted that as he told the audience of his standup-comedy performance in the D.C. area over the weekend, Stewart explained on the September 18 program:
"I'm down in D.C. this weekend...and I just wanted to immerse myself in the atmosphere of the area, I wanted to get the lay of the land, so I took tuned into, they have a station down there called C-SPAN, which sort of covers local happenings in the Washington-Baltimore area, and I'm watching this show Washington Journal, and I'm just, I mean, I was stunned. You, take a look."
Robert Novak, on C-SPAN's Washington Journal on Friday: "Somebody mentioned the Jon Stewart program. I've never seen that in my life, and I will go to my grave never having seen it."

Stewart got out a pad and pen and said in an oozy voice, joyous at the prospect of Novak reaching the grave: "Really? You'll go to your grave never having seen it? When's that scheduled for?" Then the show skipped back to another C-SPAN clip:
Brian Lamb: "Why?"
Novak: "I don't see any reason for it. It's a self-righteous comedian taking on airs of grandeur, and I don't really need that."

Stewart protested, as if Novak was somehow unaware of Stewart's pompous 'Crossfire' performance of 2004: "'Self-righteous comedian taking on airs of grandeur'?! You just said you've never seen it. You don't even, listen, I'm not going to deny I'm a pompous ass, but 'airs of grandeur,' that couldn't have been what he said. I should check, let me check this transcript."

As he put on a monocle and then put a pipe in his mouth, Stewart joked:
"Airs of grandeur. This is ridiculous, let me just, hold on, oh, it's not. Hold on. Let me just, oh, God, that's insane! I just, whoa, yes! We couldn't figure out how to appropriately mock 'airs of grandeur.' Earlier we actually tried rehearsing with a guy in a white powdered wig who walked out with a scroll, but it felt too real."

He continued: "Yes, Robert Novak does not watch 'The Daily Show' or myself, not surprising. You know, I keep reading all these articles about how 'The Daily Show' is big amongst 115-year-old vampire demons, but why does Robert Novak -- hate? And why me? I mean, it's like I publicly revealed some piece of information he didn't want people to know and ruined his career and then kept asserting it was everyone else's fault but mine."

This, of course, would be funnier if you're a liberal and dogmatically assume that somehow Novak single-handedly ruined the CIA career of Valerie Plame, and if you felt that photo shoots in Vanity Fair and book deals were signs of ruin as well. Then Stewart mockingly offered a truce:
"Well, I don't like this bad blood between us, Robert. If you're watching, and I know you're not, I think it's time we buried the hatchet! We need to get together and talk. We'll meet on neutral ground. You're on Fox, I'm on Comedy Central. How about the Food Network? Rachael Ray seems like a peacemaker.
"We can work this out because I know that you're a good person deep down in your --[pauses for comedic effect, makes a series of circular gestures with his chest] , the thing that they replaced your heart with that pumps the, I know you have redeeming qualities! I see your redeeming qualities. For example, when you're on television, you let others shine while you generously absorb all light and oxygen. When you leave an area, it stops raining. And I know that in the past I have referred to you as a douche bag. But that's not an air of grandeur, that's just mean and sophomoric, and I only said those things to you because I sincerely believe you're a terrible person."

As the crowd cheered and squealed, Stewart moved on by crossing his fingers and joking "I hope that helps." He then added: "Sadly, Robert Novak isn't the only enemy of American democracy. We have even more dangerous foes."

What followed was a jokey segment about the idiocy of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military.

Alter: Cheney a 'Toxic Combination of
Arrogance and Incompetence'

On Monday's Imus in the Morning radio show simulcast on MSNBC, guest Jonathan Alter of Newsweek magazine claimed Vice President Cheney is "reckless and incompetent" with a "toxic combination of arrogance and incompetence," leading Don Imus to compare the Vice President to...the BTK killer. Alter continued his ongoing diatribe against the administration, implying that the administration is un-American for wanting defined rules of interrogation for terror suspects, rather than a broad statement banning anything that "offends the decency of mankind" that is open to broad interpretation and could lead to interrogators later being accused of war crimes. Alter framed the debate as a debate between "heroic" figures like Senators John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsey Graham who want to limit interrogation tactics to our "American values," and the "chicken hawks" in the administration who allegedly favor torture.

[This item, by Michael Rule, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

In describing the Vice President, Jonathan Alter asserted on the September 18 show:
"Everybody knows somebody like Cheney in their office or come in to contact with some point in their life. Some guy who looks really competent, he sounds really competent, sounds full of gravitas, sounds like he knows exactly what your company should be doing with its strategic plan, and then you find out when you work with him every day that he's reckless and incompetent and manages to have kind of this toxic combination of arrogance and incompetence. And, we all know somebody like that."

To which Imus made this comparison:
"Yeah, he's a BTK killer. You know, he's a guy going around, tidying up your yard and delivering the mail, or whatever the hell he was doing, well you find out later he was chopping people up and putting them in the cars or the fridge or whatever. That's a good analogy, right?"

Following that, Imus turned the attention to the treatment of terrors suspects in U.S. custody: "Do you understand this torture debate? What's that about?"

Alter opined that the debate is about America and the American way of life: "Well I think it's about John McCain and the others said, it's about fundamental American values, it's whether we believe in the American way or not. And I think it's. I was thinking it was heroic that McCain and Warner and Graham have stood up this way, but really it was just the American thing to do."

Alter continued, and brought up the "chicken hawk issue" and asserted he didn't see how the administration can win the debate:
"George Allen, on the other side, didn't serve. So this old sort of Chicken hawk issue, that we have, you know, going back 25 years at least in this country, where those who didn't serve in Vietnam were often much more hawkish than those who did. We now see it dividing the Republican Party. It used to be something that you'd see these Democrats, like Bob Kerrey who had served, where the issue would come up. And now within the Republican Party you have a difference of experience that is coming in to form our politics, I think is not going to work out for this President, and I don't see how he ends up winning this debate."

-- Brent Baker