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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Celebrities

What? California's Dianne Feinstein in poll trouble too?

Oh, no! Another Democratic senator in possible election trouble for 2012.

And from California already?

A new Field Poll just released this morning brings news that California's Sen. Dianne Feinstein is -- how can we put this in a liberal kind of way? -- approved by 41% of voters who want to see her reelected next year.California Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein 9-11

Unfortunately for her, more voters (fully 44%) disapprove of her continued employment in the U.S. Senate after 2012.

In blue California that makes for about a magnitude 5.2 quake.

The same poll finds that only 41% approve of Feinstein's job in Washington, while 39% disapprove.

That 41 approval number is the lowest the former mayor has ever had in her 20 years of no longer really living in California.

Another recent Field Poll showed many Californians are falling out of love with the teleprompter guy from Chicago. His California approval has slid below 50% for the first time ever, down to 46%.

That's a decline of about two points per month recently.

Is his slide now corroding the election prospects of even such party stalwarts as Feinstein?

Add to that the overall -- how can we say this in a polite way? -- disgust with the United States Congress (nine out of every 100 Californians now approve of those guys) and this could spell t-r-o-u-b-l-e for Democrats. They or independent allies need to lose only six seats to turn the Senate over to those people that Vice President Joe "#%$&*(@" Biden politely calls "barbarians."

Democrats next year are defending two-thirds of the 33 Senate seats on state ballots. Good luck with that at 9% unemployment.

President Obama, who's now passed Biden as the nation's most voluble, least effective job creator, is about due for another money run to Hollywood.  

Oh, look! Our pal, the well-connected Tina Daunt is writing in the Hollywood Reporter that the one-time 40-something star of the celebrity set is having real trouble now raking in the easy dough from disappointed West Coast Dems.

Maybe the 78-year-old chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee will factor that intelligence into her as yet unannounced decision on seeking a fourth term on the same ticket as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's former boss.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Mandel Ngan / Getty Images (Feinstein).

Rick Perry's debut gives MSNBC top GOP debate ratings so far

    Rick-Perry-Republican-presidential-debate-Reagan-Library

You could call it the Rick Perry bump.

Fox News trumpeted its ratings after the Aug. 11 Republican presidential debate in Ames, Iowa, and now MSNBC is snapping its suspenders about its numbers for Wednesday's GOP debate from beneath the wings of Air Force One inside the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

Wednesday was the much-anticipated debate debut for Texas Gov. Perry, who announced his candidacy Aug. 13 and is already the field's front-runner. The debate aired on MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo, and streamed live on Politico.com.

It drew 5.4 million viewers for MSNBC, with 1.7 million viewers in the key Adults 25-54 demographic. It's the highest-rated of the four Republican debates aired so far in 2011, with two previous ones on FNC and one on CNN.

MSNBC's predictable main post-debate "analysis," which spanned the cable channel's ideological spectrum from Ed Schultz to Al Sharpton, lost half the viewers, down to 2.7 million total, with 817,000 in the target demographics.

Also on hand were Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and, for hAmericas-Got-Talent-Silhouettes-Dance-Troupeumor, Chris Matthews, who got no tingle from Perry.

But while MSNBC fielded its "A" team on analysis, no MSNBC personalities participated in the debate itself.

Moderators were Brian Williams of "NBC Nightly News" and John Harris, Politico's editor-in-chief, with a cameo question period by Telemundo's Jose Diaz-Balart for the immigration interrogations.

By contrast, June's CNN New Hampshire debate featured anchor John King, and both Fox News debates -- May in South Carolina and August in Iowa -- featured FNC anchors Bret Baier and Chris Wallace.

The next GOP debate is Monday at 5 p.m. Pacific in Tampa, Fla., co-sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express. It will be carried live on CNN, CNN International, CNN.com and CNN Radio. Also available via live-stream in the CNN Apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.

While MSNBC got the Wednesday numbers, NBC was actually Politico's co-sponsor.

Since it's summer, it's a bit surprising that NBC didn't air its own debate -- except that Wednesday is the night of the "America's Got Talent" results show, which easily trumps choosing a presidential nominee.

The "AGT" show drew 7.9 million viewers, giving NBC the win for the evening in total viewers, and tying it with second-place CBS for the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demo.

When it comes to competitions, Americans are still more interested in who will wind up with the $1 million and headline a Las Vegas show than who might move into the White House in January 2013.

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-- Kate O'Hare

Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH.

Speaking of 2012, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the retweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Rick Perry on a monitor at the Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library; dance group Silhouettes on "America's Got Talent." Credits: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images (Perry); Trae Patton / NBC (Silhouettes).

4 NASCAR drivers will be missing from the field at Obama's White House photo op

NASCAR Tony Stewart leads Kevin Harvick 9-6-11 in Atlanta 500

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart battles off Kevin Harvick during the rain-delayed 500-mile race at Atlanta Motor Speedway today. (Jeff Gordon won, his 85th career checkered flag to place him now as the third all-time victory lane visitor.)

But that's not the point of this story.

 The point of this story is that, like millions of Americans, neither Stewart nor Harvick will be at the White House on WednesdaNASCAR Atlanta 500 9-6-11 won by jeff gordony for one of those grandiose photo ops that presidents in deep poll trouble love.

The schedulers of President Obama, a basketball fan, have invited over the 12 drivers who made last season's Chase for the Championship, NASCAR's season-ending playoff race series.

The White House can usually count on anyone who's been invited there eagerly showing up at the appointed time as an excited and willing prop for whatever the scheduled activity is.

However, this year a third of those 12 NASCAR drivers invited begged off -- Stewart, Harvick, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards.

They cited scheduling conflicts. They said the invitations came late, which is standard White House protocol. And, frankly, they have other commitments.

Which may well be true in some cases.

Although NASCAR races may not be programmed into the White House TiVo, these are after all the closing weeks of this year's Chase for the cup.

Although race fans only see their favorite drivers on race day, it's not like they sit around the other six days of each week.

In return for the multimillions invested by sponsors, these guys (and next year, gal, if Danica Patrick switches over successfully from Indy Cars) are headline celebrities at promotional events.

Biffle, for instance, is required to appear in Minneapolis on Wednesday at a 3M event built around him. Biffle says he has a photo in his office of himself and Obama shaking hands, and that there's no presidential disrespect intended by blowing off the White House this time.

Stewart says he too would have rescheduled other events if he could, which he can't, so he won't.

NASCAR is, to be honest, a red-state kind of scene, not counting California. C'mon, who'd look more comfortable standing next to Richard Petty and his hat -- the Harvard grad in pressed khakis or Texas Gov. Rick Perry in boots?

Now, being hand-over-the-heart, face-the-flag-don't-talk-during-the-anthem patriotic and all, none of these millionaire NASCAR guys would want to directly disrespect the president, even if he was a Democrat. Which he is.

Hence, the unavoidable scheduling conflicts.

Which may be true.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Todd Warshaw / Getty Images (NASCAR's Tony Stewart leads Kevin Harvick during the Atlanta 500, Sept. 6); Joe Sebo / Associated Press (the field in Atlanta).

ESPN warns analyst Paul Azinger over mocking tweet on nation's golfer-in-chief

Those piercing professional eyes of one of our faves, Dana Loesch, have spotted another disparity in media treatment of commentary on the nation's vacationer-in-chief and Republicans.Dana Loesch of bigjournalismdotcom

ESPN golf analyst and 12-time PGA Tour winner Paul Azinger put out a funny and biting tweet during this week of President Obama's famous vacation on Martha's Vineyard:

"Facts: POTUS has played more golf this month than I have; I have created more jobs this month than he has."

Friday, as Dana reports, ESPN "reminded" Azinger that his tweet was inconsistent with the social media policy of the company (corporate parent: Disney).

And that "political commentary is best left to those in that field."

OK.

Then Dana astutely wonders aloud what kind of warning verbal outlaw Kenny Mayne got for his twittered desire in June to wreak mechanical mayhem on a passing car, ramming it simply because it carried a Sarah Palin sticker. Presumably Mayne pulled over before tapping out his tweet.

Dana has tweet pix right here.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: BigJournalismdotcom

'Piers Morgan Tonight' loses Christine O'Donnell, finds viewers

   Piers-morgan-and-christine-odonnell-on-piers-morgan-tonight-on-cnn-aug-18-2011

Last Wednesday, former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell objected to a line of questioning and walked out of an interview on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," where she was a guest to promote her nonfiction book "Troublemaker."

If O'Donnell intended to use the kerfuffle to boost sales of her book, apparently it didn't work, but it did have a positive effect on Morgan's numbers the following day.

The 9 p.m. Eastern talk show led CNN's lineup on Thursday, both in total viewers and in the advertiser-appproved target adults 25-54 demographic. "Piers Morgan Tonight" drew 809,000 total viewers and 241,000 in the demo. It landed a close third for the night behind MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show."

Both placed well behind Fox News Channel's "Hannity," which drew in just more than....

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Ticket pic of the week: And the little girl said, 'My, what big teeth you have'

animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex Edinburgh National Museum of Scotland reopening

A Scottish rugby player greets adoring fans after a practice session in Edinburgh.

Just kidding. It is in Edinburgh. But it's an animatronic T-rex, part of the new displays at the National Museum of Scotland.

It recently reopened after a long remodeling. And look what they found in the attic!

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-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: David Moir / Reuters

Sarah Palin takes her bus to Iowa; Oh look, it's the Ames Straw Poll weekend

Sarah Palin in New Hampshire 6-11 on an earlier leg of her One Nation bus tour

Sarah Palin.

At least the Iowa bus business looks good in this sour nationwide economy.

Michele Bachmann is moving around her birth state in one. Next week, President Obama will pass through Iowa briefly (and Illinois and Minnesota) on his next talking-at-Americans-about-jobs outing before his next vacation.

Now comes word that Sarah Palin will bring her famous, extremely patriotic "One Nation" bus tour to the Heartland this week, allegedly for a visit to the Iowa State Fair, possibly Friday. The fair opens Thursday with a Mitt Romney speech competing with the annual carved cow in butter. Don't fail to miss that.

If you don't need to sweat within immense crowds amid the smells of livestock and anything you can imagine being fried, C-SPAN will broadcast the state fair's entire list of political speakers from Romney at the open to Bachmann at the close Friday. They're even letting one Democrat speak.

Janet Jackson will be there too, on Aug. 21, presumably with a functioning wardrobe.

Palin's not scheduled to speak at the fair. Palin doesn't need no schtinking fair to speak. She's got her Facebook page with nearly 3.25 million fans listening. And her podium over at Fox.

And the political celebrity can pretty much set up wherever she wants to park her political bus, and the crowd and media will flock over, even though she has yet to declare her intentions about a presidential candidacy.

The latest leg of Palin's bus journey just happens to coincide with the arrival of a gazillion media people and a bunch of GOP presidential candidates for the Ames Straw Poll, just to the north of Des Moines up I-35. Thursday night there's a nationally-televised Republican debate on the Fox News Channel.

Saturday, of course, is the infamous Ames Straw Poll, actually a state party political fundraiser that attracts attention as if it really means something. (Again, C-SPAN will have live coverage beginning at 9 a.m. Pacific.) Romney and Jon Huntsman are not participating.

Neither is Rick Perry, the conservative Texas governor who's been publicly flirting with the idea of running for the GOP nomination. One can only guess why Perry has chosen the Ames weekend to sort-of-maybe disclose his intentions. But he'll do it in an afternoon speech to conservative writers at the annual RedState Gathering in Charleston, S.C.

As for Palin, she'll be back to Iowa again, headlining a "tea party" gathering over Labor Day weekend.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Brian Snyder / Reuters (Palin on an earlier leg of her 'One Nation' bus tour).

Late-night jokes: Conan uncovers a secret clause in the debt ceiling deal

As The Ticket's 70,000-plus Twitter followers here and 7,000 Facebook friends/fans here know, we regularly share our daily picks of the late-night jokes of interest, usually before broadcast each night. Feel free to pass them on to friends using the "Share" buttons above.general george armstrong Custer The Last Stand by Nathaniel Philbrick Viking Penguin

Letterman: OK, Obama reached a debt compromise with congressional Republicans. As I understand the details, it's the same kind of compromise Custer reached with Sitting Bull.

Leno: Did you see the District of Columbia has the nation's worst drug and alcohol abuse problems?  If you watched the Redskins a whole season, you'd need some relief too. Let's not judge.

Letterman: They say we averted economic disaster with this debt ceiling nonsense. Now we're $16 trillion in debt instead of $14 trillion. How is that not an economic disaster?

Fallon: The other day President Obama said, ‘Things will get better.’ Then he opened his eyes and blew out the candles on his birthday cake.

Fallon: Michelle Obama asked her husband’s fans to sign an e-card for his 50th birthday. That explains why Joe Biden's computer screen has magic marker all over it.

Leno: President Obama turned 50 Thursday. A year ago he was in his forties and his approval was in the fifties. This year it's the other way around.Dr Phil

Leno: President Obama is making a three-day bus tour across the Midwest later this month focused on jobs, mainly him keeping his.

Conan: Did you read about that man who jumped the White House fence? There was a brief chase, but the Secret Service was able to convince President Obama to return and continue his term.

Leno: Here's how bad our nation's credit rating is right now. President Obama asked China for another loan. But they won't give it to him unless his mother-in-law co-signs.

Conan: Part of the new national debt deal includes a Super Congress committee to make some very tough fiscal decisions before Thanksgiving. The Super Congress consists of six congressmen from each party, plus Wolverine.

Letterman: Good news in all this debt talk business: Now Congress can get back to doing what it is it does best--I have no idea.

Fallon: A new study says eating healthy adds $380 to your grocery costs yearly. Or as Americans put it, ‘Cool, I saved $380 this year!’

Fallon: After countless rounds of talks and numerous compromises on both sides, finally a deal! My wife will go to ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ while I will go see ‘The Smurfs.'Smurf

Conan: The congressional budget deal would raise the debt ceiling until the year 2013. The best part--it prevents another Smurfs movie until the year 2014.

Conan: Analysts say Oprah could help Obama get the white working-class female vote. And Dr. Phil can help deliver the crucial fake doctor vote.

Conan: Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was released from prison. He said he spent most of his time in prison hanging out with other Detroit mayors.

Leno: A New Jersey Dunkin' Donuts clerk was arrested for prostitution, turning  tricks in the parking lot overnight. Police were able to crack the case after only 10 years of surveillance.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Viking / Penguin (Custer); John Shearer / Getty Images (Dr. Phil); Mark Renders / Getty Images (a Smurf).

Who made the cut for Obama's big White House birthday party?

Obama wears a birthday party hat at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in LondonPresident Obama and about 200 celebrity friends set aside the economic fears and concerns of others to really celebrate his 50th birthday in the White House.

Burgers,  bare feet and lots of dancing is the report from multiple sources.

Those who made the pre-recession invite list Thursday: Al Sharpton, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, Charles Barkley, Emmitt Smith, Ledisi, Steve Harvey, Gayle King, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Grant Hill and Jay-Z.

Also, of course, Tom Hanks.

And the usual political suspects: Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Valerie Jarrett, Bill Richardson, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Tim  Kaine, Bill Daley and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Also, the First Mother-in-Law Marian Robinson and her Chicago friend "Mama Kaye" Wilson.

Obama reportedly paid for the affair.

However, the political optics of less than healthy BBQ feasting and shoeless East Room dancing until after midnight while the nation teeters on the brink of renewed recession caused the White House to close the event to the media.

The president left this afternoon on his helicopter for a weekend mini-vacation at Camp David.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

Party like it's 2011. Follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: The Obama wax figure at Madame Tussauds in London has a party hat. Credit: Win McNamee / Getty Images.

Photo: Obama flies off to Camp David, Aug. 5. Credit: Michael Reynolds / EPA

Oprah volunteers for Obama 2012

Finally, an answer to the question several people have wondered about:

Has-been TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey is ready, willing and able to help reelect her fellow Chicagoan, Barack Obama, to the White House.Oprah winfrey file

The billionaire made an atypical foray into politics back in 2007-08 when she supported and openly campaigned for the Illinois senator.

She helped pack the house at rallies for the newcomer and staged a glittery fundraiser at her Montecito house.

She paid a ratings dip price for her political involvement against Obama's main Democratic competitor, Hillary Clinton. But Oprah was winding down her long-run successful broadcast show by then anyway.

Now, it's dead and she's struggling to breathe energy into her OWN cable network.

About 2012, Winfrey told Politico, "If the campaign needs me, I’m happy to be of service. I’m in his corner for whatever he needs me to do.”

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-- Andrew Malcolm

Follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Kimberly White / Reuters, file.

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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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