RachelWatch: Rachel Muckrakes the Town Halls


Today: The town hall debates get sicker, but we’ll be able to get great mileage as we drive away from them.

TRMS Investigates

Here’s the thing about holiday dinners: You need a good cook or two (but not three) and maybe someone with the aesthetic sense to put together a beautiful table setting.

But you also need the person who is willing to pull the giblets out of the turkey or reach way down into the murky sink water to try to unclog the drain.

I bring it up because Rachel and staff went elbow-deep to bring us Tuesday night’s lead story and we should all be thankful.

I hope you enjoy dinner. By the way, we invited over a few people whose only goal — an explicit goal — is to stop conversation entirely. Candied yams?

Bought the Pharma

Rachel brought us the breaking news that President Obama does not want to kill old people. Or at least not right away, all at once.

John Rother, executive vice president of policy at AARP, dropped by to talk about how the “grassroots” organization 60 Plus seems to be devoted to frightening the elderly by telling them that if health care reform goes through the government will try to talk them into suicide booths.

Rother says that the new health care bill will benefit seniors and make it easier for them to afford their medications.

60 Plus takes money — great big teetering piles of it — from pharmaceutical companies. AARP does not.

OK, yes: Under the proposed bill, government agents will stop by to poke the elderly with sticks twice a week. But that’s it.

Ms. Information

Rachel gave us an update on the scandal over the politicization of the U.S. attorneys under the Bush administration. In a nutshell, attorneys who pursued cases against Republicans or didn’t pursue cases against Democrats hard seemed to get fired an awful lot.

Amazingly enough, Karl Rove, who repeatedly claimed he didn’t have to respond to Congressional subpoenas to testify on the matter, may have been just a teeny bit more involved than he initially led everyone to believe.

Rachel noted that criminal charges are still a possibility, which means Mr. Immunity needs to do some fast thinking about why the law doesn’t apply to him this time.

That whole executive-branch-doesn’t-have-to-testify thing is getting a little shopworn, though. Maybe Rove can mix it up to keep things interesting? Can he get hired by a foreign government fast enough to claim diplomatic immunity?

Or claim to have been his own evil twin the whole time? I hear you can get certificates of live birth from any old place nowadays. I hope his mom remembered to plant the fake newspaper announcements just in case.

Rachel also served up some statistics that will either make you giggle or bum you out for the rest of the day.

A poll of North Carolina voters by Public Policy Polling revealed that 46% of the general population either did not believe or were not sure that President Obama was born in the United States, and when that was narrowed to North Carolina Republicans, the nos and I-don’t-knows jumped to 76%.

So far we’re only in mildly surprising territory, right? Strap in.

When asked if Hawaii is a part of the United States, 5% said no, and 3% said they didn’t know. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6%. Which means that number could actually be higher.

This may look like either a shocking lack of geographic knowledge (or an epic State Quarters fail), but I believe it’s actually some canny thinking on the part of those Tar Heels: The Hawaiian archipelago still has a great deal of volcanic activity, which means new land is being formed all the time.

Maybe they’re wondering if Obama was born in the middle of a lava flow, land that would technically not have been a part of the Hawaii that was admitted to statehood.

(Yes, I know: If I see that cropping up in birther arguments I’m going to kick myself.)

Ire Fighter

So Obama went to a health care town hall, and as you may have noticed, those are getting a little nuts.

I can understand getting frightened by all the wild health care rumors that are out there. And I can understand freaking out about the current health care information overload, what with the whirlwind of directly contradictory claims out there.

I can even understand getting fired up and wanting to be a part of a group that seems to speak your language.

What I cannot understand is the people who apparently nod along when someone else tells them that the best thing to do is refuse to even hear what the other side has to say and to make sure no one else can either.

That doesn’t set off any alarm bells for the fierce individualists in the town hall mobs?

Moment of Geek

And just when you were all depressed and wondering if anything would be right with the world ever again, Rachel came through with a pretty awesome Moment of Geek.

Meet the Chevy Volt, a zero emissions car that is expected to get up to 230 mpg.

(And for those of you who say I never disagree with Rachel on anything, I will note that in teasing this segment, she mentioned her anticipation of flying cars.

I am completely opposed to flying cars, whether we have the technology or not.

I have seen a man driving down Beverly Boulevard while talking on the phone and ducking down to the passenger seat to take bites from a pizza. I don’t want people getting anywhere near flying cars.)

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