Wednesday, October 31, 2007

There's Something About Bill: Grin & Bear It

A version of this story appeared in the Santa Fe Reporter.

There's Something About Bill: Grin & Bear It Can Richardson bite back at Colbert?
By Dave Maass

With a tip of the hat, a wag of the finger, satirist Stephen Colbert threw his, er, tie into the South Carolina presidential primary. You could almost hear the sighs from the Federal Election Commission attorneys dreading the possibility of a televised McCain-Feingold Act prosecution. The Colbert Report host isshooting for slots on both the Democratic and Republican primary ballots, and he’s already climbing in the polls.

He’s jumped from 0 percent to 2.3 percent, according to a national poll of 1,000 voters conducted last week by Public Opinion Strategies. This means Colbert has edged out Bill Richardson by 0.2 percent.

Unlike presidential candidates Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul, Bill has yet to submit to a Colbert interview (though he did plug his book once on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart). When Huckabee appeared, he begged Colbert to join him as a running mate.

“This is nothing more than a gimmick for Stephen Colbert to sell his book, and the media is playing right along,” Richardson spokesman Tom Reynolds told the Albuquerque Journal. “We enjoy his show—but this is a serious election with serious consequences—and we are not going to comment on this ridiculous exercise.”

That’s pretty weak. SFR has a suggestion. If Bill wants to chase Colbert out of the race, he needs to remember one word:


Brown bears, black bears, grizzly bears: Colbert fears them. Most weeks, bears top his Threatdown list. That’s how Bill can bite back. After all, he’s known for his bear hugs and he manages a state where, this year alone, one bear wandered into hospital in Rio Rancho and another bit a 13-year-old at Sugarite Canyon State Park.

Here’s the truthiness on Bill’s bear record:

• Bill officially declared this year’s Super Bowl Sunday, “Brian Urlacher Day,” in honor of the Farmington-born linebacker for the Chicago Bears.

• In March 2007, the “Out in Hollywood” blogger for the Los Angeles Daily News referred to Bill as “a big bear of a man.” Even his initials invoke the name of the beast.

• Bill’s CafePress store sells little white teddy bears wearing red ribbons and three different Richardson slogans for $14.45.

• Bill’s campaign contributors include employees of “Big Bear Construction,” “Bears Bilingual Mobile Services,” and investing giant “Bear Stearns,” for whom he delivered an energy speech in March.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Peace Prize Envy

This was a political cartoon waiting to happen:

Now read David Alire Garcia's research on Bill's "nominations."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Just a couple decent links

Nothing to thoughtful this Sunday morning. I could blog on Richardson's semi-promise to look into the Roswell UFO crashes, but it's already been blogged to death.

Instead, I'll provide you with two of SFR's secret links:

1) Conservative strategist Patrick Ruffini's Richardson wire.

2) Time magazine's ranking of presidential candidate gaffes. Richardson actually does pretty well in contrast to the Republicans.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

There's Something About Bill :: Political Animals

A version of this piece appeared in this week's Santa Fe Reporter.

If dogs could vote, they might pick Bill.
By Dave Maass

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lost the dog-lover vote back in June, when The Boston Globe reported that he’d once tied his dog’s kennel to the roof of his station wagon for a 12-hour cross-country trip. The Irish setter reportedly wet itself on the journey.

Creatures can’t vote and, as nonprofit organizations, neither People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals nor Animal Protection of New Mexico may endorse a presidential candidate. However, the Humane Society Legislative Fund can, and so far, they’re pleased with Bill.

“We don’t expect orthodoxy and we don’t expect people to be aligned with us in every aspect
,” the Fund’s president, Michael Markarian, says. "But we do look at the signals, what people have done with public policy and in their personal lives to help tell the story about their commitment to animal welfare. "

Here are the highlights of Bill’s animal rights narrative:

February 2005: Bill signs an executive order creating a Rodeo Council, citing the sport’s economic impact and “deep culture roots.” The next year, Bill approves $250,000 in rodeo facility improvements and $300,000 in scholarships to attract rodeo students to New Mexico colleges.

September 2005: Bill downs an oryx (see photo, right) with a single shot from 100 yards at Ted Turner’s ranch, according to a June 2007 Washington Post article. Bill has the antelope head mounted on a wall at the governor’s mansion beside a pair of elk horns and a stuffed wild turkey. Bill tells the Post he prefers shooting doves.

December 2006: Bill releases a $3.6 million “Animal Protection Plan,” a 10-point agenda including a $150,000 allocation to create an Animal Welfare Oversight Board and $2 million to improve animal shelters.

March 2007: Bill pushes to ban cockfighting in New Mexico. The Legislature passes it during the 2007 session, and Bill signs it into law. It’s a bit late: State Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, D-Doña Ana, had been introducing ban bills for 18 years, and New Mexico is the 49th state to pass the prohibition.

July 2007: Animal Protection of New Mexico honors Bill with its Executive Director’s Milagro Award for government-level animal advocacy.

October 2007: Bill declares Oct. 15-19 “Wolf Awareness Week.” In a press release, Bill says he believes, “as keystone predators, wolves play a critical role in maintaining balanced ecosystems.” The Center for Biological Diversity wags its tail.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lucky Bill

Rather than post a link to any number of stories laughing at Bill for getting beat by Stephen Colbert in the South Carolina polls, I'll balance out Julia's last post with this:

This is Rebecca Lavoie. She blogs at Grassroots & Granite, which is based out of the Merrimack Restaurant, an iconic political trough in New Hampshire. In a recent post, Lavoie admits, to her own full-blushed horror, that she had unintentionally hit on Bill during a seven-minute interview.

She writes: "Yup, with a few inappropriate words, I’ve turned the smartest guy in politics in to a guy that sounds like he’s giving the not-so-cute girl at a bar the brush off."

Read the rest here.

poor Bill

The Houston Press offers up its take on what automobile is each presidential candidate. Bill is depicted (it's a slideshow) in some kind of glass helicopter, and the HP notes: Bill Richardson: Who? Oh, yeah. The guy who’s not named Clinton, Obama or Edwards. Sometimes we even wonder if he’s there. And don’t get us started on how you use the bathroom in that thing.

Monday, October 22, 2007

From guffaws to tears

OK, so Bill's made a huge 180 degree turn in his campaign commercial style. You gotta give him credit: he's had the best television spots of the campaign so far. And the latest one turns the wind-taking "I approved this message" disclosure on its head.

Compare the "job interviews" (top) to his latest ad:

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bill :: Easiest to stomach?

Happy Saturday to Bill! A poll released by Zogby International today shows that our Governor is the least universally detested of all the presidential candidates from both parties.

The question posed to 9,718 likely voters was, "Whom would you NEVER vote for for President of the U.S.?" Bill's at the very bottom, with only 34 percent saying they'd never vote for him.

With the exception of Hillary, all the Democratic first and second tier candidates made it to the bottom half of the spectrum. You'll notice, though, that Mike Huckabee is just one percentage point away from Richardson in undetestability.

Now, that would be an interesting general election, indeed. And we might see it happen, in a matter of sorts: both candidates highly favored on their respective parties' potential running-mate list.

View to a Kill

All of Bill Richardson's efforts to reach out to women (no pun intended...well, maybe a little bit) apparently paid off with some significant name-dropping earlier this week. No, I'm not talking about the Women for Richardson movement, nor the campaign's "strong presence" (according to BR4P HQ) at the DNC Women's Leadership Forum in DC this week. I'm talking about The View, ABC's popular midday cluckfest.

According to a reliable source (okay, my wife) Big Bill received a largely favorable response from the gals when his name came up on the show. That is, if the former host of Hollywood Squares (Whoopi) saying something like "he seems like an honest man" can be considered a favorable response. And while Richardson took a little hot-flashing heat for his fumbled choice-or-genetics response to the origins of homosexuality, the loquacious ladies ultimately gave Bill a thumb's up for admitting/correcting his error. Now the BR4P campaign can only hope that Rachael Ray does a show on green chile and sopapillas.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Anticlimactic Bill headline of the week.

Here is today's Sioux City Journal headline:

Richardson has plan to find bin Laden

Ohhhkay? Let's have it. Carpet bomb Kumrat Valley? Assassinate a fake Osama so he'll come out of hiding? Send grenade-strapped badgers into every cave in Tora Bora? What's this great plan to find the world's best hidden terrorist?

"I will build an international coalition to find bin Laden, to eradicate al Qaeda."

You know what that sounds like? This:

If we get all the people of the world together, we should be able to find him, right? I mean, it's a small world, after all...

4:30pm Update :: Hold the phone! I found lil' Osama, thanks to the help of a small-world coalition!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

bill's bucks

The New Mex, via AP, recently reported on Bill's campaign contributions from state employees. You can look at a whole lot of other info about Bill's bucks courtesy Open Secrets' campaign contributions information. Also fun to do a donor search.

And be sure to check out Salon's roundup of "All the Candidates' Books", which looks at, yes, all the books written by presidential candidates. (Kind of makes the aspiration to write a book seem less, um, aspirant).

They take an early look at Big Bill's next release, Leading by Example (due out Oct. 26) and conclude: "In short, the perfect candidate is back on paper, but perhaps that's where he belongs." Ouch.

Bill Flintstone?

The political animators at Step On Me '08 this weekend aimed their MS Paint (or whatever low-budj software they use) at Gov. Bill Richardson's campaign. It's a cheap shot, focusing solely on his Spaceport program with Richard Branson. It's awfully unfunny, but it's good to see someone other than Stephen Colbert going to the effort of satire these days. That said, the voice impression is pretty good - somewhere between Bill and Michael Moore.

You can vote on which easier targer Step On Me should parody next: Rudy, Mitt or Fred.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Very Odd Appointment

Bill Richardson has appointed Charles W. Daniels, a criminal defense attorney, to fill the late Pam Minzer's seat on the NM Supreme Court. As SFR reported before, Daniels was one of two Supreme Court candidates who had donated the maximum to Bill's presidential campaign. The other was Appellate Court Judge Michael E. Vigil. The difference between the two? For one: Daniels is a loyal, contributing Democrat (as is his wife Randi McGinn, who also gave $2300 to Bill's campaign, before giving $2300 to John Edwards). Meanwhile, Vigil's a loyal, contributing Republican.

For two, Vigil has a drunk-driving record. Daniels has a great ol' white beard.

But there's something else strange about the appointment. Bill's notoriously pro-death penalty, and Charles is notoriously anti-death penalty.

Of course, if you ask Bill, the appointment had nothing to do with money, but instead ...

“Charles Daniels exemplifies the qualities necessary to serve on New Mexico’s highest court...I am confident that Charles Daniels’ leadership, work ethic and impeccable integrity will be a tremendous asset to the state Supreme Court...I chose Charles Daniels for the Supreme Court given his keen intellect, outstanding reputation and unwavering commitment to uphold the rule of law." it just me, or could the same generic statement be made for any of the other candidates?

bill's ad spending

Here's more on Bill's advertising spree via the Journal via some other site, because I can't find it on the Journal's site. —JG

iowa teevee

KSFR reported this morning that Richardson has spent more money on television commercials in Iowa than Barak Obama and John Edwards combined or Hillary Clinton. Obviously name recognition plays a big part in this, the other three candidates all over the news with free press constantly and Richardson pushed to the side with the other lower tier candidates.

Though this article from the Washington Post (from back in April) doesn't address the amount spent it, does highlight the content of the ads, namely Richardson's history and record as Governor and his ideas about the Iraq war. It's nice to see Bill looking forward rather than, as he did at the beginning of his campaign, focus on his resumé at the Federal level. He's done a great job of getting that info out there, as can be seen in an editorial from New Hampshire's Concord Monitor, where his experience is the reason for endorsement.

Unfortunately the KSFR story was just a snippet and didn't offer any real numbers, just a vague comparison.

Where's Richardson on Sudan Divestment?

In this week's Reporter, I take a look at Darfur-linked investments made by New Mexico's Public Employees Retirement Association. All in all, PERA has invested more than $28 million in seven companies identified as "highest offenders" by the Sudan Divestment Task Force.

Unfortunately, according to PERA, they can't divest without a change in legislation. And the legislature can't deal with the issue unless Governor Richardson adds it to the 2008 legislative agenda. However, we haven't been able to get a clear response from his office, even though we've been calling for weeks.

"It’s simply too early to say what will be on the agenda for the next legislative session,” is all Deputy Communications Director Allan Oliver would tell us.

That's not to say Bill hasn't expressed any interest in Sudan. He did personally negotiate a cease fire (which abruptly fell apart). He also made this statement back in April:

"Time is running out for the people of Darfur. The people there cannot wait much longer, for waiting means more death, more broken families, more children without a future. This is a defining moment for the United States. We have an opportunity to lead the world in taking action to end the killing in Darfur and we must not blow it."

If time is running out, how can it be "too early?" Bill also outlined a six-point strategy for handling the Darfur crisis:

  1. First, America must make peace in Darfur a much higher priority. I agree with Save Darfur--we need full-time, high-level US diplomacy dedicated to ending this crisis.
  2. Second, America must engage Sudan's economic and political partners--China Pakistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Arab League to build a multilateral coalition with real leverage. That could begin by endorsing the Arab League's commitments on Darfur--to aid the African Union's mission, to fund development in Darfur, and to support the UN hybrid force in Sudan.
  3. Third, we should deploy a UN peacekeeping force to eastern Chad to prevent a regionalization of the conflict. America should join other wealthy countries to fund refugee camps in neighboring countries and assure that those weak states bend to accommodate, but do not break from the pressure.
  4. Fourth, we should use our full diplomatic weaponry --offering incentives for compliance and threatening multilateral sanctions for resistance to both the Government of Sudan and the various rebel groups.
  5. Fifth, we must develop agreed upon negotiating positions among the rebel factions, to assure that any common resolution won't be quickly undone by one dissatisfied rebel group.
  6. Last, America should join the International Criminal Court.

Point Two is the most relevant here. Many of the "highest offenders" and most powerful in Sudan are corporations fully or majority owned by the Chinese government. It stands to reason that Richardson would pressure China to use its business in Sudan to influence the Sudanese government in Khartoum. Twenty states in the US have already implemented divestment schemes to exert this kind of pressure.

In essence, here's how state divestment schemes typically work. First, states identify companies they invest in who do business in Sudan. Then they send them all letters asking the companies to clarify their involvement and detail any humanitarian efforts they make in the African nation. If the companies don't respond, or if their responses are inadequate, the state then sends them another letter threatening divestment. If the companies still refuse to respond, then the state makes moves to divest -- and only if divestment wouldn't affect their fund by more than 5 percent.

Congress has also made moves to divest the US Treasury from these oil and gas companies, and President George W. Bush has signed an executive order barring US companies from involving themselves in oil and gas interests in Sudan.

In addition, the Sudan Divestment Task Force has also sent all the presidential candidates letters asking them to screen their own investments for Sudan involvement. So far, candidates from both parties, including Barack Obama and Sam Brownback, have divested. Bill acknowledged he received the letter, but has yet to respond whether he'll do the same. Again, we've called his campaign office several times over several weeks and received no real response.

In case you want to screen your own holdings, the Task Force has a handy tool for looking at your mutual funds.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Outta Sight/Mind

Wait a second...was Bill wearing a leopard-print dashiki and humming "99 Luftballons" in that candlelit Indian hut? Because I had the SAME DREAM.

Okay, not really. But that's about the only place I would have come across El Gobernador these days. Out here in Cali, it has became glaringly apparent that Richardson's battle for name recognition hasn't gained much traction. These days, in these parts, he's still lanquishing behind Brian Urlacher and Kid Nation when it comes to readily identifiable New Mexico exports.

In fact, I'm hearing a lot more about the Republican law firm of Guiliani, Romney and Thompson than any of the Dems, save Hillary. The Whale's Vagina leans conservative and the folks around my 'hood are strictly Clinton or Obamaphiles, but few people seem to know much, if anything, about Big Bill. While that "official" announcement a few months back in LA served its purpose of giving Richardson a national stage to launch his campaign, it doesn't seem to have resonated with voters here.

Granted, Iowa is still three months away. But it's also three months away and Richardson has to make considerable national headway between now and Super Tuesday to even be considered a viable running mate. But, if nothing else, maybe all those "Job Interview" events will give him a leg up for a position running a grain elevator in Dubuque if the whole president/VP/senator/SOS thing doesn't pan out.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bill visited me in my sleep last night

Yes, he did, and it was weird. I shit you not. It occurred at about 5:30a.m. this morning. My dog woke me up as she scrambled over to water dish. I pulled the covers over my head, rolled over and drifted back off.

In the dream that followed, I was in my room in my parents' house, visiting for Thanksgiving. I got up, went to the bathroom, came back and there he was, sitting at the end of my bed, next to a dim lamp.

He told me three things:

1) "I'm not sure where I'll be next year, but I have five options," he said and lifted those chubby little fingers to count them off. "President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Senator, or Governor."

2)"I'm going to be endorsed by the mining association."

3) And then he whisked me off to a small candlelit hut in India, where he told an old couple that their son will be given $78 a week, and that will ensure he goes to school and grows up to be a computer scientist.

And then he was gone and I was back in my parents' house. The dream faded into the newsroom, where I was telling Julia, my editor, about my dream and how I wanted to blog it. She glared at me coolly and suggested I do some research, because journalists don't write pieces based on vision quests.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bill 'n' Olbermann

Last night on Countdown:

I really wish Keith had hit him harder.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bill pisses off Michigan

Thanks to for pointing our N.M.-related news from out of state.

Bill has pissed of Michigan, not just because he withdrew his name from their primary ballot.

According to Detroit Free Press, Bill "Long Shot" Richardson had told a Nevada newspaper: "I want a national water policy...We need a dialogue between states to deal with issues like water conservation, water reuse technology, water delivery and water production. States like Wisconsin are awash in water."

Even though Bill specifically named Wisconsin, it was Michigan environmentalists and Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm who lept to the defense of the Great Lakes.

"It's ridiculous to say that," Hugh McDiarmid, spokesman for the Michigan Environmental Council told DFP. "Until the compact is passed, our water protections are hanging on by a thread."

Apparently, Bill's people wouldn't defend his statement. Tom Reynolds, his spokesman, "did not respond to an inquiry about the governor's comments." Sound familiar?

Is it just me...

...or do Richardson's repetitive denials that he'll run for the Senate sound an awful lot like Larry Craig's repetitive denials that he's not gay?

Just a thought...consider this an open thread for discussion.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

There's Something About Bill: Trivial Pursuits

A version of this piece appeared in this week's Santa Fe Reporter.

There's Something About Bill: Trivial Pursuit
So you think you know Richardson?
By Dave Maass

1. What action did Bill Richardson take this month?

a. Called a moratorium on executions until the US Supreme Court rules on lethal injection
b. Approved his Ethics Task Force’s report and recommendations
c. Appointed an NM Supreme Court justice to fill the late Pamela Minzner’s seat
d. Wrote to Texas Gov. Rick Perry to oppose a copper smelt in El Paso

2. How many days in September was Richardson fund-raising in New Mexico?

a. 1
b. 2
c. 5
d. 8

3. How much did Richardson report his presidential campaign collected in the third quarter?

a. $3.7 million
b. $5.2 million
c. $7.8 million
d. $11.1 million

4. Who was Richardson referring to when he explained, “How the Grinch stole children’s healthcare”?

a. US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt
b. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell
c. House Republican Leader John Boehner
d. President George W Bush

5. In the event that Richardson wins the presidency and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish wins

a. Senate seat, who becomes governor?
a. Attorney General Gary King
b. Speaker of the House Ben Lujan
c. Secretary of State Mary Herrera
d. Senate President Pro Tempore Michael Sanchez

6. What lapel pin did Richardson tell CNN he wears?

a. MIA/POW logo.
b. Star-shaped American flag
c. The New Mexico Zia symbol
d. Democratic Party Donkey


Your ranking:
6 correct = Who are you, his press secretary?
4-5 correct = Oh my, you are indeed Bill-informed.
2-3 correct = Meh, you’re about average.
0-1 correct = Please don’t vote without reading our election guide first.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Bill Richardson: "Very Little Air"

Googling around, SFR found this astrological chart for Bill at We're not really sure what all the colorful criss-crossies mean, or how accurate it all is, but we find it fascinating nonetheless that the astrologer concluded:

"Richardson’s planets and points are mainly in fire and water signs, with no earth except his north node and very little air. In addition, all his planets except for Uranus are above the horizon...

"...Many born in late-1946 and 1947 share a Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Leo. In Richardson’s case, however, that powerful conjunction includes Mars and the 7th house trio is in a tight square to his Sun, Midheaven and South Node."

Thursday, October 4, 2007

There's Something About Bill: Lo-Tech Special

A version of this article appears in this week's SFR.

Rating His Debating :: The Lo-Tech Version
(using a voice recorder set next to the tv, and camera phone pointed at the screen)
By Dave Maass

There’s a great line from a second season episode of the latest Doctor Who: Following an Earth-invasion attempt, the prime minister laser-beams a retreating alien ship. Appalled, the Doctor states he can bring her down with six words, which he whispers into her assistant’s ear: “Don’t you think she looks tired?” It works.

Not to sabotage Bill’s campaign, but doesn’t he look, sound, act tired? There was the gay-is-a-choice gaffe (excuse: jet lag). He confused SEIU with AFSCME while courting the labor vote. Finally, his performance during the Sept. 26 MSNBC debate was flat and meandering.

Being inarticulate isn’t necessarily a disqualifier, at least among Republicans, who s
eem to identify with bumbling orators. We wonder whether’s editors will endorse Bill, if only to adapt their Bushisms feature to Billisms.

Speaking of Slate, surely some portion of 1.4 million viewers had to agree with Brit contributor Christopher Hitchens’ observation that the Dem candidates have lost their luster (except maybe Hillary, with her increasingly charming self-deprecation and the implication that she, not her husband, wears the pants).

While Bill’s unique as the only non-Congressperson, he dropped the ball when moderator Tim Russert pointed out that managing New Mexico is hardly comparable to, say, California or Texas. Sure, Bill also stood out by claiming he’d bring the troops home lickety-split. Obama, Clinton and Edwards would not commit, but their rebuttals painted Bill’s exit strategy (take ’em through Kuwait, Turkey; leave light equipment behind) as impractical poll-pandering.

Bill even had an alienating Axis-of-Evil moment, bragging about his diplomacy with the “bad guys.”

Then there was the audience question on immigration: Would Bill allow sanctuary cities to continue? He’s based in Santa Fe, a notable sanctuary city, and he should’ve unloaded specific examples about how tolerance has benefited the community. Instead, he played the Hispanic card.

The biggest hit was Russert’s condescension of Bill’s social security plan. Postulating a $300 million deficit, Russert teased, “It’s not funny money. It’s real money.”

According to Chris Dodd’s talk clock, Bill racked up almost 12 minutes of airtime. Fourth place, again. No matter how many bones he’s thrown, Bill will never lead the pack until he shakes himself awake and plays alpha dog.