Courting Hollywood. Lenny’s Deli is in the fancy Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. The restaurant is delightfully down-to-earth, a place with a lunch counter that serves breakfast all day. I was in Los Angeles on assignment over the weekend, sitting at that counter on Saturday and having a cup of coffee while waiting for my lunch appointment. In strolls actor Jon Voigt. Because I had met him a few times, I greeted him and said hello. We talked for a minute about how few conservatives there were in Los Angeles, parted, and he immediately went to the back of the restaurant, where people were gathering for a meeting. A few minutes later, Kelsey Grammer, television’s Frasier Crane and another prominent Hollywood Republican, strolled by my stool. When my lunch companion arrived (who happened to be my son Cole, stationed in California with the Air Force), we took our table. I asked our waiter, Mario, about the meeting. He said, with a thick Spanish accent, it was a “very important meeting with Michelle Obama.” Why were Voigt and Grammer meeting with the first lady? That didn’t make sense, so I peeked in the room. It was U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., not Michelle Obama. All of which led me to think two things. First, it’s funny who you run into in Los Angeles on Oscar weekend. Second, Bachmann’s got a long way to go to get Mario’s vote.
Worldviews on display. Speaking of the Oscars, and Michelle Obama, the first lady presented the final award of the evening, to Argo for Best Picture. But before that she gave a short feel-good speech about the importance of arts education, telling the folks in the room they did “vitally important work.” For some reason, the Academy didn’t ask Michele Bachmann to give out an award. Maybe they didn’t know she was in town. Obama’s appearance via streaming video, surrounded by uniformed military personnel, was about the only surprise of the evening. Most of the big awards went to those the prognosticators and pundits had predicted. One surprise for me was the win of Searching for Sugar Man, a documentary about the musician Sixto Rodriquez. WORLD was way ahead of the Academy in recognizing this film. In fact, read our own Arsenio Orteza’s profile of Rodriquez.
Reptile dysfunction. The brown tree snake has been disastrous to the tiny U.S. territory of Guam. The snake hitchhiked to the island during World War II, likely on U.S. military ships. They found Guam’s climate compatible, and its birds delicious. Most the island’s native bird species are now extinct because of the 2 million snakes, which are mildly venomous, also bite people, and knock out electricity by slithering onto power lines and into transformers. Now there’s fear the snakes will hitchhike on an airplane to Hawaii or elsewhere, and wreak havoc there. But it turns out that acetaminophen, the active ingredient in painkillers including Tylenol, is the snake’s kryptonite. So dead mice laced with painkillers are about to rain down on Guam’s jungle canopy. The upcoming mice drop is targeted to hit snakes near Guam’s sprawling Andersen Air Force Base, which is surrounded by heavy foliage. To keep the mice bait from dropping all the way to the ground, where they would be eaten by other animals or attract insects as they rot, the mice will trail streamers designed to catch in the branches of the forest foliage, where the snakes live and feed. The mouse drop is set to start in April or May.
Gay “marriage” and the Huntsman. If Michele Bachmann is courting Hollywood Republicans and their money, it appears that Jon Huntsman is courting gay Republicans and their money. Last week Huntsman announced his support for gay “marriage.” The position is no surprise. Huntsman has favored civil unions for years. The position has been met with silence from most Republicans, but Utah Democratic Party chairman (and openly gay member of the Utah legislature) Jim Dabakis said, “Jon Huntsman would make a great Democrat.”