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Friday, September 26, 2008

Let's get debatin'!

Woo-hoo! John McCain is in the debate fold ... which (yawn!) puts us right back to where we were only a few days ago.

All that excitement aside, there's plenty of reason to plant yourself in front of the TV tonight.

Since this isn't a political blog, I won't get into whether the debates should really matter to all you undecideds who apparently can't find the information you need in like, interviews and other exhaustive profiles written on this wonderfully expansive thing called the Internet. (Sorry, that was me being judgmental.)

Still, I get it. You like the drama of the televised debate, which as David Greenberg of Slate points out, serves not "as an opportunity for voters to learn anything new about the candidates but rather as an occasion for all of us to get excited about politics."

Greenberg's well-reasoned history lesson further puts the politics-as-sports metaphor at the forefront. It's all about rooting interests and high-octane theater ... you know, without all the need for heavy drinking, gratuitous camera shots of Jessica Simpson and stupid Coors Light commercials.

"If you're like me, most years you await the general-election debates with eager anticipation, notwithstanding your longstanding loyalties or your made-up mind," Greenberg writes, "I often find myself at a friend's apartment, populated by similarly inclined partisans, enjoying the act of rooting for the home team."

OK ... that might be pushing the Friday night drama a bit too far. But once the debate ends, fellow political junkies should switch over to "Real Time Bill Maher" on HBO, probably the most entertaining and informative show in today's polluted climate of talking heads.

Yeah, yeah, I know: take your shots at Maher and his ultra-liberal views (yep, I'm talking to those folks already painting signs for a lame "Religulous" protest.) But the great thing about this country is that you don't have to agree with people 100 percent of the time, and Maher is a classic example of how someone can be impossibly pessimistic yet spellbindingly thorough about divisive issues. His faith showdown last week with conservative writer Andrew Sullivan was one for the ages, and pretty much every week, there's a standout moment or two that, if it doesn't get you enraged as Republican, Democrat or Indepdendent, at least gets you thinking strongly about issues beyond who to vote for on "Dancing with the Stars."

And sure, Maher would probably be irritatingly condescending to hang out with, but he's also a host that strives for balance on his panel -- which makes for great debate, even if moronic things pop out of Michael Steele and Janeane Garofalo's mouths on a weekly basis. More importantly, he so fervently believes in his opinion, right or wrong, it makes for must-see TV. Plus, his writing staff is hilarious.

Finally, I'll close this politics-laden post with a link to Entertainment Weekly's latest interview featuring Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. Click on it for the magazine cover. Stay for the "Colbert Report" writers' list of possible October surprises ...

Then there's this pander-iffic blast from the past ...

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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