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Smart Talk, Nov. 22



Governor: Work not for sale

A sharp-eyed colleague sent us a question about Gov. Mike Beebe's e-mail news releases. In the small print at the end of each message was a notice that the material was copyrighted by Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, “all rights reserved.” Copyright for a news release by a public official?

We inquired. Press spokesman Matt DeCample provided the innocent explanation. Beebe's office had acquired software for press releases used by “private sector people.” The templates came with the copyright notice tailored to the user of the software. Nobody had noticed it. It's coming off. The free press strikes again. You may reprint the governor's news releases at will.

Our Mailer moment

The death of writer Norman Mailer was relevant to us not only because his widow, Norris Church Mailer, is an Arkansas native who'd been featured in the Arkansas Times over the years.

In 1992, the Times had an opportunity to publish Mailer's work. Mailer had been commissioned to write a piece on the Democratic National Convention by a national magazine. It was not published. Anxious to have the article published, his agent sent a copy of the 49-page manuscript to the Times. Were we interested? Of course we were. Money was never discussed, but length was. We couldn't accommodate an article of that length. Could it be cut? With the exception of a very small number of lines hand-marked by Mailer, the answer was no, it had to run as submitted. We had to decline.

Mailer gave Bill Clinton's convention performance a strong review. The man from Hope, said Mailer, “strong, willing, doggedly brilliant and imperfect personally, as had been nearly all the high candidates before him, might actually have smuggled hope itself into the political arena.”

Covered by Rolling Stone

Matt Taibbi, heir to Hunter Thompson's mantle at the Rolling Stone, turned his attention last week to the presidential candidacy of Mike Huckabee in an article headlined, “Mike Huckabee: Our favorite right-wing nut job.” The web version came with an illustration showing bats flying out of Huckabee's ears and a Phillips head screw implanted in his forehead.

Taibbi wrote that Huckabee had almost won him over with his story about pardoning guitarist Keith Richards and his preferences among bass player stylists. But then Taibbi started studying his record and concluded he wouldn't be joining The Huckster's national press fan club. He wrote:

“In the world of GOP politics, he represents something entirely new — a cross between John Edwards and Jerry Falwell, an ordained Southern Baptist preacher who actually seems to give a shit about the working poor.

“But Huckabee is also something else: full-blown nuts, a Christian goofball of the highest order. He believes the Earth may be only 6,000 years old, angrily rejects the evidence that human beings evolved from “primates” and thinks America wouldn't need so much Mexican labor if we allowed every aborted -fetus to grow up and enter the workforce. To top it off, Huckabee also left behind a record of ethical missteps in the swamp of -Arkansas politics that make White-water seem like a jaywalking ticket.”

The article, at, is full of such gibes, with great attention devoted to Huckabee's lust for freebies, including the famous “wedding registry.” The former governor isn't likely, as the song says, to buy five copies for his mother.

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