Bob Franken

Last Week’s Hearst Column on the Bizzare Cast

^YOU CAN’T BEAT THIS ELECTION SEASON FOR ENTERTAINMENT@< ^(For use by New York Times News Service clients)@< ^By BOB FRANKEN@= ^C.2010 Hearst Newspapers@= WASHNGTON _ This election season sure has some entertainment value. Where do we start? Look at the California gubernatorial race, with Democrat Jerry Brown, A/K/A ``Governor Moonbeam'' running against Republican Meg Whitman, who has plowed more than a hundred million dollars of her own money to try and get elected. But with all the huge issues there...a failing economy and all the rest, the campaign has gotten bogged down in pettiness. Here we we have Meg Whitman, the Queen of Hearts, advocating an ``Off with Their Heads'' policy against those who employ illegal immigrants. That was until her own undocumented housekeeper of several years surfaced. Not to be outdone, Brown was part of a conversation in which Whitman was called ``a whore.'' Did I mention this was recorded? So the Brown campaign apologized, sorry for the offending remark and REALLY sorry about getting caught. In Nevada, the name of the game is pulling the candidates' feet out of their mouths. Sharron Angle and Harry Reid, who is the Senate's Democratic leader, spend large amounts of time running backward. Angle talks about her absolute opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest and has said that victims should look for an alternative that ``made what was a lemon situation into lemonade.'' Reid on immigration: "I don't know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican.'' North to Alaska we go where insurgent Joe Miller defeated incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary. Miller is probably the only candidate seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate who says he favors repeal of the 17th Amendment providing for direct election of senators. And he also would repeal the federal minimum wage law.

In state after state, we see candidates who are probably as surprised as any that they’ve gotten so far, and in others ones that possibly should have been vetted more effectively by their parties. Take Ohio, where Rich Iott, a Republican congressional candidate, is seen posing in a Nazi uniform and says it had educational value.

And how about the big story in the Big Apple, with New York State’s Republican for governor, Carl Paladino? He is seen and heard full face on TV threatening to “take out” a persistent reporter. With his insensitive comments pandering to homophobes, Paladino often looks like he wants to take himself out of serious consideration. Even he realized it because he’s now done a 360 and apologized.

Let’s not overlook the Connecticut Senate race between Democrat Richard Blumenthal, who distorted his war record, and Republican Linda McMahon, the former wrestling executive.
The small states have some of the biggest shows. . . none more wild than Delaware, where Christine O’Donnell, the Republican candidate for Senate, found it necessary to run an ad stating “I Am Not a Witch.” Clearly she is not, because the opinion polls are showing she has definitely not cast a spell that would pull her back from far behind.

Add sunny Florida to the mix. There, the Republican candidate for governor, Rick Scott, once ran a health care company that paid $1.7 billion in fines for overbilling Medicare. Scott himself took the 5th Amendment 75 times during depositions in a separate breach-of-contract civil lawsuit.

Off to the side there is the endless background music from the likes of Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann. Actually they’re singing to their own choirs, but they are sure not providing any clarity.

The good news is that this big road show ends on Nov. 2. The bad news is that means the end of this season of political entertainment. But a new campaign production will begin Nov. 3.

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