Kerry to adopt Bites

Presidential hopeful John Kerry and Bites share a special moment.

Presidential hopeful John Kerry and Bites share a special moment.

Mr. Personality: Just as George W. Bush has turned being illiterate and feeble-minded into a folksy shtick, John Kerry has been employing humor in an attempt to turn his own perceived defects into an advantage. “The rap on you is that you’re too aloof and not in touch with the people,” claimed debate moderator George Stephanopoulos, to which Kerry wryly deadpanned: “Probably, I ought to just disappear and contemplate that by myself.”

But all that’s changing now that Howard Dean’s candidacy shows signs of eclipsing Kerry’s: Dean took a media trifecta Monday by landing simultaneous covers on Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report. Meanwhile, the Kerry camp is working overtime to make its candidate come across as more, you know, down with the people.

In what may be the lamest image-spinning since Al Gore grew that beard, Kerry’s Web site is now offering one lucky devotee the opportunity to “Win a Day of Campaigning with Kerry!” It’s the accompanying image that makes this promo especially bizarre, so much so that it’s hard to believe the whole thing wasn’t originally conceived as a joke during less desperate times: It shows a beaming Kerry walking past a crowd of supporters with his arm around a slightly stooped, crudely cut-out silhouette beneath the slogan “This Could be YOU!”

Having spent a few precious moments with Kerry during the California Democratic Convention (See “Conventional warfare,” SN&R Bites, March 20), Bites can barely imagine the unbridled excitement of spending a full day as that stooped silhouette. If nothing else, you get to hear Kerry make that same joke over and over about surgeons removing his “aloof gland.”

Dress code: Speaking of stooping, even Bites would not sink low enough to base a whole item on a typo. So, let’s just use it as an intro, shall we?

“ASSEMBLYMAN MARK LENO’S GENDER IDENTITY BILL SINGED BY GOVERNOR DAVIS,” blared the headline on Sunday’s fax from Leno’s office.

Actually, Davis merely signed the bill, but “singe” is definitely the right word for an organized letter-writing campaign against Leno’s Assembly Bill 196, which protects Californians against gender-identity-based discrimination in housing and employment.

Though SN&R doesn’t run Web site-driven form letters on its Letters page, the dozens that poured in on this issue suggest those Web sites are doing booming business. Maybe it’s because letter writers can actually earn points toward valuable prizes!

That’s right, those who want to relive the good old days of collecting toxic trading stamps that could be exchanged for potholders, Coleman lanterns and cat-shaped barometers can now write wingnut letters that will actually earn points toward GOP mouse pads, sports bottles and other collectible memorabilia.

So far, SN&R has managed to filter out these “Astroturf” letters, but many newspapers across the country (including our own Sacramento Bee) have been less vigilant. Then again, since corporate ownership of newspapers has ensured that the American press speaks with one voice, why shouldn’t the letter-to-the-editor pages follow suit?

Licks: If you missed Dick Cheney’s fund-raiser in Sacramento on Wednesday, you can still fulfill your annual quota of crypto-fascist speeches by attending Sacramento Chamber Metro Perspectives. The day-long event, to be held September 19 at the Convention Center, will feature “social commentator and comedian” Dennis Miller, former Bush adviser Karen Hughes, con man turned FBI agent Frank Abagnale Jr., former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Gen. Tommy Franks (for, um, balance). And finally, because there is good news out there, we are happy to report that Billy Nessen, the incarcerated Bay Area journalist (“Free Billy,” SN&R Editorial, July 24), was released Sunday from prison in Indonesia.