Last night I walked across the street from my office and met up with a friend who'd just lost his job. We settled in the quieter room of a bar, but as we sat, more and more twenty-something and thirty-something professional types moved in, talking audibly about politics. One of these people walked over to us after "Wheel of Fortune" ended, explaining what was up.
"We're having a vote-against-Bristol party," said Jim McBride , the man behind the event. "In about half an hour we're going to put Dancing With the Stars on and vote for Jennifer Grey."
McBride explained that he was with a pro-"Obama movement" group, in the process of rebranding itself as a group of young progressives. This filled me with cliched ideas about what it meant that progressives, in the middle of a lame duck session of Congress run by Democrats, were training their fire on the Palin family's attempt to earn something or other from a reality show whose ejected contestants included faded R&B stars and a man on an MTV show most famous for pulling up his shirt to reveal his abdominal muscles. But, like I said -- cliched. Who cared?
The local media cared. On the way out, a local news channel interviewed McBride and another anti-Bristol shock trooper about their project/publicity stunt. McBride explained that he had already voted for Grey via text message, three times. "I think that merit should win," he said. "Merit didn't win in the midterms; Democrats didn't credit for everything they did."
I left the bar, thinking that Bristolmania had surely just peaked. Then I read this .
Fifty-four percent of Americans think Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol is one of the finalists on ABC's competition series "Dancing With the Stars" because of large-scale voting by viewers who support her mother, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News.