The holiday wars continue in the Capitol Rotunda. The conservative group Wisconsin Family Action put up a nativity scene and the Freedom From Religion Foundation responded by applying for a permit to put up their own "solstice scene" with "prominent figures" who they claim will be "slightly blasphemous." Enough already. Just take the whole circus down, sweep up the needles and put up a display featuring the Peanuts characters as they did in Costa Mesa, California.
Speaking of the circus, Dane County wants to ban elephants from the circus when it comes to town in February. Because that one is too easy to mock, and speaking of elephants, for pure entertainment value you just can't beat the Republican presidential candidates. On this week's show, Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman were voted off the island, one because he was a ladies man and one because he was nobody's man. Huntsman didn't get invited to the first GOP debate this week (there were two) because he didn't meet even the low required threshold in the polls. He suffers from sanity, which is not playing well with the Republican base right now.
Rick Perry continued to be fact-challenged, this time about the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Perry said we didn't need eight activist judges. I guess he means we need at least one then. He went on to get Justice Sonia Sotomayor's name wrong, referring to her as "Montemayor." But, hey, it's tough to keep all eight names straight.
But the screw-up of the week goes to Mitt Romney, who tried to make a $10,000 bet with Perry on the nationally televised debate. (He'll also offer you a million dollars to sleep with your wife -- see Indecent Proposal with Robert Redford.) This struck a chord with people. You know, people who aren't worth $200 million.
If Romney had bet five bucks, people would say that that was a regular guy bet. If he had put up a million dollars, people would have recognized it as a lame attempt at a joke. But what the ten grand bet made people think was that $10,000 to Mitt Romney is like ten dollars to you and I. This was not good for his campaign, but it was good for Newt Gingrich, the new front-runner.
The $10,000 bet thing made Newt look more like a regular guy. You know, the kind of regular guy who gets $1.8 million to not lobby Congress. He's also a regular guy who believes that something called an electromagnetic pulse could eliminate civilization in a matter of seconds. Romney may be the kind of guy who wears tassels on his loafers, but Newt's the kind of guy who wears tin foil on his head to keep away the gamma rays. Republicans have a choice now: preppy or spooky?
The Newt also promised this week to stick up for marriage, an institution he believes in so strongly that he's tried it three times.
In this week's sports pages, it was reported that tests showed that Ryan Braun may have used performance enhancing drugs that lifted his testosterone to sky high levels. Teammates said they noticed something was going on when the normally fastidious Braun started leaving empty beer cans around his locker, belching frequently, scratching himself and constantly snapping guys with towels. Braun says it's all a misunderstanding and I actually believe him.
Also in sports, this week the Los Angeles Angels sealed their ten-year deal with former Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols. Over a decade, Pujols will get the state of California. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers, a small market team, can only offer their own slugging first baseman, Prince Fielder, Kenosha and some parts of Racine. As nice as those communities are, expect the Cubs to offer Fielder the Loop, the Gold Coast, Highland Park and probably Palatine just for good measure.
In international news, Britain was once again the skunk at the tea party when Prime Minister David Cameron refused to go along with a German and French plan to bolster the Euro and with it the European economy. When he got home, his coalition partner Nick Clegg told him that if the Tories didn't want to go to the party in Brussels well fine, but he intended to be friends with the neighbors even if Cameron wanted to stay home and watch cricket.
Finally, Russian oligarch Vladimir Putin seems to be losing his grip on power, facing street protests and now his first serious challenger in Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire Russian owner of the New Jersey soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets. In contrast to the nastiness of American politics, the two Russian rivals immediately expressed concern for the other's safety.
"It would be unfortunate," Putin said in a press conference while adjusting his tie, "if anything untimely should happen to my good friend Mikhail. Like if he's driving down a mountain road and his brakes should suddenly give out, or he's walking down a street and a box of anvils should fall on his head. This would be tragic, but if it should happen, it would be an accident."
Prokhorov, who has learned a thing or two in New Jersey, responded that he too was concerned about the health of his rival, especially with so many people these days wandering into cement and then finding themselves trying to swim in the Moscow River.
That's all I have for now. Have a good weekend, kids.