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Ralph Nader has celebrity backers too -- like Sean Penn and Val Kilmer

As we mentioned earlier today, droves of celebrities will descend on Denver next week to join Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention.

Oprah Winfrey, Susan Sarandon, Spike Lee, Ben Affleck, Rob Reiner, Annette Bening and Quentin Tarantino are among the A-listers expected to appear at various convention-related events. And musicians Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Kanye West, Melissa Etheridge and the Black Eyed Peas will reportedly perform.Sean Penn will appear at Ralph Nader's event at the Democratic National Convention next week in Denver

But Obama hasn't won every Hollywood star's support. Ralph Nader, the habitual presidential candidate (and Barack Obama trash talker), claims a few too. They'll be joining him in Denver on Aug. 27 for a rally that Nader's campaign hopes will upstage -- or at least share a stage with -- the Democrats' fanfare.

Val Kilmer and Sean Penn will be the biggest personalities at the "Open the Debates" rally, which Nader is hosting at the University of Denver Magness Arena with his running mate, Matt Gonzales. Musicians Nellie McKay, Ike Reilly, Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine) and Jello Biafra (of the Dead Kennedys) will also appear.

OK, so it may be a kind of a B-list batch compared with Obama's all-star cast. But Nader spokesman Chris Driscoll promises a crowd of 5,000 to 7,000, as well as downright "electric" energy.

The rally will call for Nader -- and any other viable third-party candidate -- to be included in the upcoming presidential debates. (Libertarian candidate Bob Barr has been clamoring for the same privilege -- but without Hollywood's help.)

In November, Nader will be on the ballot in 45 states, according to the campaign. In the latest CNN poll, 6 percent of respondents said they would vote for the Nader/Gonzalez ticket.

Nader's campaign is planning a second "Super Rally" in Minneapolis on Sept. 4 at Orchestra Hall during the week of the Republican National Convention, where he'll try to snag votes from the fringes of the GOP.

No word yet on the celebrity support he'll have there.

-- Kate Linthicum

Photo: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (20)

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I have to say that I thought Sean Penn had better judgement than that. In my opinion, George Bush has been king for nearly 8 years because of Ralph Nader's insufferable ego.

Nader bears a big chunk of blame for helping to send Bush to the White House.

I, for one, do not forgive him.

Nader was actually offered the VP slot during the 70's but turned it down. Hillary as the pres, Nader as the VP, now that would be change.

Do our fellow Americans out there in TV-land realize that both Obama and McCain openly plan to expand Bush's military budget? I will never again cast my vote in favor of war. Will you? Read up on Kucinich's evidence for Bush's impeachment. Read up on the CFR and who controls our national media.

Huge props to Penn and Kilmer for doing enough research on their own to know the truth about what's up. It absolutely takes effort to wade through the lies, but truth is out there. Start with to, at least, view 12 issues that affect you and me that the two corporate candidates won't touch with a 10-ft. pole.

Nader is an UberEgo hack. Go away.

I'm thrilled that the Nader/Gonzalez ticket are hosting the Super Rallies in both Denver and Minneapolis to challenge the 2 corporate sell-out candidates. Nader has been working relentlessly to improve the lives of all Americans for decades, while McCain wants to drag us into never-ending overseas wars and Obama has, well, not done much of anything despite woo with flowery speeches and glitz&glam. He's done NOTHING important at all, but has managed to flip flop around, vote for FISA, and bow down to special interests. You think this is change?? He's a crank, no doubt.

And Jessica V. Cortez, he's not an egotist. Try running for president for 4 cycles in a row amidst death treats, attacks, being pelted with garbage--and do it with great dignity, courage, and determination to win the American people the better lives which they so truly deserve and can achieve. Try dedicating your life to passing significant legislation like the Clean Air Act, the Freedom of Information Act, as well as laws protecting the rights of miners--one of America's most dangerous jobs--and then see how you like it when misguided or jealous people try and tear you down.

Nader is America's greatest asset, and its shinning hope. Reject the 2 corporate sell-outs, McCain & Obama, and join the Nader/Gonzalez team today:


{{ In my opinion, George Bush has been king for nearly 8 years because of Ralph Nader's insufferable ego. }}

I suppose you're entitled to your opinion, but on what is your opinion based? The only thing I've found to be insufferable over the last eight years is the refusal of Democrats to look within themselves or bear any responsibility for our ever more deteriorating electoral system.

If you're into blaming people, why not blame John Kerry's campaign manager for the last four years? Your team was so successful in denying people who wanted to vote for Nader in 2004 the ability to do so through their bogus lawsuits that he was only on 34 state ballots, and didn't get nearly enough votes in any of them to influence the outcome.

Why not blame a system that allows the guy who comes in second to be elected president, or any winner at all to take office with less than a majority of votes? I mean, duh. Support instant runoff voting and that would be the end of your problems, period. But no, Democratic activists don't want anything to do with instant runoff voting because then they'd have to share power with 3rd parties and actually modify the way they do business.

Why not blame Monica Moorehead, James Harris, or David McReynolds? I assume you don't know who they are, in which case you haven't delved very deeply into the 2000 election debacle.

Why not blame the 100,000 self-described liberals in Florida who, according to exit polls, voted for George Bush in 2000? Hello? Why would a LIBERAL vote for BUSH, not to mention 100,000 of them in Florida alone? You guys couldn't manage to peel off 600 of those folks?

Why not blame the Supreme Court, which selected Mr. Bush and handed him the election?

Why not blame voters instead of candidates? No one held a gun to 2.7 million heads and forced them to vote for Ralph Nader. But Nader is a much easier target for partisan handwringers, I guess.

So don't blame Florida Democrats, the mayor of Miami, the lame Gore campaign (which couldn't even carry the congressional district he used to represent in Tennessee), Katherine Harris, Jeb Bush, Monica Moorehead, James Harris, David McReynolds, the Supreme Court, or a dysfunctional electoral system. It's funny how whiney Democrats never bother to get past their superficial, zero-sum blame game from eight years ago and look in the mirror at the deep faults and problems with a system for which their party bears half the responsibility in the first place.

There is a reason why Ralph Nader's campaign is doing much better this year than in 2004. Wake up and find out why, then get your fellow Democrats to do something legitimate about it, the way FDR did in response to Norman Thomas and the Socialist Party. Democrats didn't go about their day whining and complaining back then.

The only change in the NObama court is from Bush's pocket to his. McCain is the best of those 2 evils but I plan on voting for the BEST and that would be Nader/Golzalez
Because of people like you, we have these crooks in office so don't blame Ralph.
It is YOUR fault you chose one crook over the other and then you get mad when the other crooks win.
Nader/Gonzalez 2008


My name (Jessica V. Cortez) was muddied due to the format of these comments. Mine was the TV-land comment located just above the uninformed one-liner to which you refer, written by someone who didn't have the fortitude to use their actual name.

It's clear that whenever people mention Nader's "ego" or call him a "spoiler" that they are hook, line and sinker mainstream media sheep who will eat just about anything they are served. Ralph Nader, Matt Gonzalez, Cindy Sheehan have all inspired me to become an active, more informed, citizen. Again, it takes a personal effort to be informed, but it certainly feels better than being led around by status-quo-maintaining sheepherders.

-Jessica V. Cortez

You misstate the position of Sean Penn who told Nader, according to the relase, that he is not endorsing any candidate, but wants the debate broadened: Was that mistake an intentional way to put pressure on him or just an inability to read the release? Here is the relevant quote:
"At the Denver rally, actor and activist Sean Penn will offer his own comments on the state of the debates. "I met with Sean Penn, and we talked at length," Nader said. "He was very clear that he is not currently planning to endorse any candidate in the general election, but that he has serious concerns about the state of Presidential debates. He did support Kucinich in the primaries and saw how Dennis was excluded from MSNBC debates."

so what steve? just because he doesn't endorse any candidate now doesn't mean that he supports obama or mccain or that he'll vote for them. it simply means that he hasn't made up his mind perhaps.... but is leaning, i bet, towards the true progressive candidates. he also agrees that viable third party candidates need to be properly treated and included in the debates and given adequate media coverage instead of repeatedly marginalized. can you argue with that?

and who cares? do we need big-time celebrity endorsements to anymore underscore the important platform of the nader/gonzalez ticket? just go to the website and watch the clips and click 'issues' to read a bit more.... and that goes to all the nader haters and doubters out there.

Nader has not trash talked anyone, never cost any election anytime, and actually backs up his talk.Unlike others who are hypocrites and say one thing while voting another way.Sean Penn is an academy award winner and not a "B" star,and this piece was uniformative, biased, garbage.

The L.A. Times is a joke.

Ralph Nader got the Peace and Freedom Party of California nomination a couple weeks back, and I didn't see a damn thing about it in the Times.

I thought newspapers were supposed to be objective.
But then when you remember that they are all controlled by the same corporations, it's really no surprise...

Top of the Ticket mentions the theme of Nader/Gonzalez 2008 Super Rally in Denver - Open the Debates! but doesn't mention that the official presidential debates is one of the most undemocratic events in any country's electoral system. The former heads of Republican and Democratic party are the heads of this corporate sponsored beast. The 15% threshold for inclusion excludes all independent and third party candidates. It's a Catch-22 situation - you can't get polling numbers high enought because you don't have enough support - you can't get enough support because the media (another corporate dominated beast) won't cover you. The League of Women Voters moderated and sponsored the debates for many years and left that post in protest back in 1988. Their press release says it all:

On October 2, 1988, the league's 14 trustees voted unanimously to pull out of the debates, and on October 3 they issued a press release:
“The League of Women Voters is withdrawing sponsorship of the presidential debates ... because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.

I can't say I'm surprised the best the corporate media can come up with to trash Mr. Nader is statements like "habitual presidential candidate", "Obama trash talker", and implications that his celebrity backers aren't as good as Obama's, but it gets me that real people buy into this.

'Habitual'--yes, he makes it a habit to stand up for the interests of Americans, heaven knows the Dems and Repubs don't.

'Trash Talker'--yes, he's not afraid to point out the truth about how Obama AND McCain are selling out, betraying Americans in favor of corporations.

Not as many celebrities--unfortunately, and especially thanks to publications like yours, there aren't enough people with the courage to risk receiving so much ridicule in order to stand up for the hundreds of thousands of Americans (and many more around the world) who will die needless, preventable deaths every year while corporate make ever greater profits at the expense of the destruction of American lives and livelihoods.

Just a reply to the people who STILL think that Ralph Nader cost Gore the election. 1) People who voted for Nader wanted Nader for president not Gore. So how can a candidate people legitimately vote for cost someone the election. 2). 250,000 registered Democrats voted Republican in Florida alone, that’s 3 times as many votes Nader got. Gore should blame himself for costing him the election for running a lackluster campaign. 3) If Gore had've won his own home state of Tennessee he would've had enough electoral college votes to win the election. Or if he had’ve won Clinton’s home state of Arkansas he would’ve won. 4) Bush won Florida by 547 votes - EVERY third party candidate received enough votes to "cost" Gore the election. There were a total of 8 3rd party candidates. 5) Not all of the votes that were cast for Nader would've gone to Gore, in fact according to polls only 39% would've gone to Gore. 25% to bush and the rest would've voted for another 3rd party or stayed home. 6) I think we all can see there is enough evidence to support that Florida was stolen from Gore by the republicans, so there is another party you can blame - and probably the most blame can go to them. The vote count was riddled with inequities and Kathleen Harris, Florida’s Secretary of State, who declared Bush the winner, worked for the Bush Campaign. And of course there is the added benefit of having your brother be the Governor of Florida (Jeb Bush).

Let's dispel the myth that Nader cost anyone the election. He ran a fair campaign. Besides, EVERYTING that has happened for the past 8 years has happened with the approval or the blind eye of the democrats.. Its' time for some new ideas. That's what Ralph Nader will bring to the white house.

An Open Letter To All Nader Supporters:
The reality is that we live in a nation with a two-party system. The reality is that every vote for Nader is a vote for the Republican ticket. And the reality is that you are personally responsible for our country's demise via the Bush Doctrine. Do I love our real choices (Obama and McCain) - no. Do I think that Nader has a chance in getting elected? No, I know he does not. Do I think that politicians are in bed with corporations. Of course they are. But I am also a pragmatist, and I will take leaders like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama every day over the Bushes and McCain's of the world. When you vote for Nader, you give the White House to the worst possible politicians imaginable - the Republicans. I hope that you are looking forward to another four years of Republican doctrine, because that is what you are ensuring.
Wake up! Change from within! Do something real, instead of living in LaLaLand and pretending that you are a part of creating change. Under your idealism, our country will remain the mess that it is. And the blood is on your hands.

We must ask ourselves why it is that a candidate has to take on the burden of scapegoat for the shortcomings of a corrupt system. Why are we sheep to a two party system? I think the real awakening will come when most of us realize that we are not citizens of a free country. It is not, nor has it ever been a 2 party system. It is such in our minds because the corporations want to keep things simple for us. They create a seemingly black and white picture between republican and democrat. If we read into the rhetoric of both candidates we find that we come to the same conclusion minus a few social differences. Health care and education will remain the same under this system because the drug companies and insurance companies would lose their strong hold on a more socially ethical system. Education will not improve because that would lead to a more informed public. Wars will still be fought, but perhaps less publicized. The contracts will still be bought and sold and the federal reserve will keep robbing us. So if we buy into the illusion of change without change we remain slaves to a corporate, fascist system. This is why it matters little about which candidate is chosen. Why blame Nader for Bush when the responsibility belongs to the citizens. Where was the scapegoat for 2004 after the American people had already been had? Remember billionaire Ross Perot? He participated in a debate alongside a republican and a democrat. Money talks in a corporate system.

All that said, I really would love to believe that Obama represents the "change that we need". Perhaps he'll take charge and really attempt change. I just fear that the real ones in power will not let freedom go too far.

"Do something real, instead of living in LaLaLand and pretending that you are a part of creating change"

Tell that to the grassroots campaigns of old...

Womens Rights, Anti Slavery, Consumer Rights, etc

listen up people Ralph Nader resonates with alot of people many more than voted for him, people in this country have gotten really stupid this country reminds me of a fat pig ready for the slaughter they voted in somebody with a back ground of associating with communist god help us neighther one of those candidates care about the people of this country this country is run by the bankers wake the F... up the one world government is right at the door you are going to see and you are going to like it you will have no more freedom we are going to be begging in the street for food

you people who voted for Obama do not care about Obamas past you just wanted him in there because he is black God Help Us.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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