Jeff Gannon On HBO’s ‘Real Time’ with Bill Maher

I made a point of catching Jeff Gannon on Bill Maher’s HBO show last night. In fact, I’ve seen quite a few of the interviews this guy has done, and he is a piece of work.

In case you just woke up under a rock after many months and then tuned into Pensito Review to find out what’s going on in the world, “Jeff Gannon” is the nom de plume of a prostitute named James Guckert who worked out of the DC area using the nom de ho, “Bulldog.” Guckert invented his Jeff Gannon persona when he suddenly, with no prior journalism experience, started covering White House press briefings for a website called, which subsequently changed its name to Talon News.

The story of how Gannon got access to the White House has yet to be revealed. The shameless libertines who run the White House and GOP Congress have no interest in getting to the root of this White House sex story. (So if Monica had been paid for sex with the president, there would have been no Starr investigation?) The powers that be are equally uninterested in knowing how a $200 per hour prostitute cleared a security check – or how he knew in advance when the bombing of Baghdad was going to start, or how he got inside information on the leaking of the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

If you want to know just about everything there is to know about Bulldog, go to AmericaBlog. The site’s editor, John Aravosis, broke much of this story, and he has posted a list of links to his Gannon coverage in the left hand column of the homepage. (Scroll down.)

Gannon did have one funny line last night:

“Usually the way it works,” Gannon said, “is people prostitute themselves AFTER they become reporters.”

Gannon has been openly begging to be invited to the White House Correspondents Dinner tonight but as of yesterday he’d received no offers. It’ll be interesting tonight to see if he shows up.

Bush-Cheney Ohio Official Investigated for Illegal Contributions

Toledo Blade:

The federal probe into whether local Republican fund-raiser Tom Noe, right, was illegally funneling money to the Bush campaign had been ongoing for months. It reached a turning point Wednesday night.

FBI agents swept into Mr. Noe’s Maumee condo about 7:30 p.m., spending three hours scouring the home of one of the most prominent Republicans in northwest Ohio. They were looking for evidence of violations of federal campaign contribution laws…

Mr. Noe, 50, is a coin dealer and former chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party. He manages two rare-coin funds that have received $50 million from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation. That investment arrangement is currently under a separate investigation being conducted by the Ohio inspector general.

Lockyer Won’t Run for California Governor

There has been talk over the past few months that the most formidable challenger to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger next year might be Attorney General Bill Lockyer, right. Yesterday, Lockyer took himself out of the governor’s race, declaring his intention to run for Treasurer instead. That leaves the Democratic field to the only declared candidate, Treasurer Phil Angelides.

The stealth candidate is none other than Meathead (or as I prefer to think of him – Marty DiBergi, the real/faux/real filmmaker from “This Is Spinal Tap”) but Rob Reiner is on the record saying he won’t run in 2006.

Angelides has been on the scene for a while and seems like a smart and, certainly, energetic fellow. As for Lockyer, he was going to have to spend the first few months of his campaign explaining to me, and presumably other Democrats, why he endorsed Schwarzenegger in the Recall campaign against a sitting Democratic governor.

Bush Press Conference Scored Lots of Viewers

Imagine the collective ugly surprise when millions of people sat down for a penultimate edition of “Survivor” last night and got President Bush’s non-news conference instead. A lot of folks stayed tuned, however. The Big Four networks averaged 32.8 million viewers for the hour-long session. That’s a 23 percent increase over viewership for this year’s State of the Union speech.

Now it will be interesting to see what all those viewers thought of Bush’s plan for privatizing Social Security and his helplessness in solving the gas price crisis.

Villaraigosa Will Return Florida Money

Here’s an interesting turn of events. Los Angeles mayoral frontrunner Antonio Villaraigosa will return $47,000 in donations he collected in South Florida recently:

Hoping to end a growing controversy over out-of-state campaign contributions, mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday he will give back $47,000 in donations from employees and other contributors linked to a Miami-based hotel gift company.

One day after he flatly rejected calls from Mayor James Hahn to return the money, Villaraigosa’s campaign put out a statement saying he decided to send back the contributions “out of an abundance of caution.”

His opponent, current mayor Jim Hahn, raised questions about the source of the money that was donated to Villaraigosa.

Questions over Travel Traders were raised Wednesday in a Copley News Service story, which found that employees of Miami-based Travel Traders refused to explain or had difficulty saying why they gave to a mayoral candidate 3,000 miles away. One did not recognize Villaraigosa’s name, while another had not heard the name of the company that was identified as her employer in the councilman’s contribution records.

Hahn spent part of this week calling for an Ethics Commission investigation into Travel Traders to determine whether money laundering or other improper behavior occurred. The city prohibits campaign money laundering, the practice of allowing political donors to be reimbursed by their employers or other third parties for contributions.

Networks ‘Caved’ to White House ‘Soprano Tactics,’ Forced to Run ‘News Conference’ during Primetime Sweeps

Washington Post:

One by one the broadcast networks caved yesterday and agreed to preempt the first night of the May ratings race to make way for President Bush’s non-news conference, after “‘Sopranos’-style arm-twisting” by the White House, as one network suit described it.

The President’s poll numbers are at an all-time low (although 47 percent is miraculously high considering his incompetence and malfeasance), so the news conference was called in order to rally the faithful – very few of the rest of us can bear witnessing George W. Buch extemporizing for an hour, even with talking points on the lectern and cues from whoever it is who’s feeding him lines via the communciations unit wired to his back.

The White House is so out of touch with “real” Americans that they were caught unaware that ratings Sweeps for the television networks began last night. What this means to the average viewer is that, finally, a whole rack of non-rerun shows were slated to begin at 8 PM, including “Survivor,” “Will & Grace” and “The O.C.” The five cable news outlets and PBS were on board but the networks were balking.

…Six networks just weren’t enough for the president’s program. So the White House started in with the “Sopranos” stuff, as that network suit described it.

First NBC, which, according to TV industry sources, said it would consider carrying the president’s chit-chat with reporters if it started at 8 so the network didn’t have to preempt both its 8-9 p.m. sitcom block and “The Apprentice.”

The White House agreed.. Thus can it be said that Donald Trump forced the president of the United States to reschedule an address to the nation. Way to go, Donald!

The funniest moment – actually the only funny moment – for me ocurred after the news event as I was surfing the cable newsers. I happened to catch Fred Barnes on Fox News toss his last shred of credibility into the wood chipper.

Recapping the President’s performance, Barnes described Bush as “dazzling.” Yes, “dazzling.”

Now that’s funny!

New Poll: Schwarzenegger Drops to 40%; Riordan Tossed Out

A new poll shows Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approval rating is down to 40 percent. The Governor has responded by “retiring” education secretary Richard Riordan, the second most popular Republican in the state (which ain’t saying much, believe me).

It has been a rocky few years for Dick Riordan, the liberal Republican former mayor of Los Angeles. After being term-limited out as mayor, he made two attempts to run for governor. He threw his hat in the ring in the race against Democrat Gray Davis, but Davis took political advice from former President Bill Clinton and went after Riordan with an ad blitz during the Republican primaries, thus fatally wounding the only GOP candidate who had a snowball’s chance of winning the general election. (This was the last politically astute thing Davis ever did.)

In the run up to the Recall of Gov. Davis, Riordan signalled his intention to make another run but was preempted and completely upstaged when his friend Arnold Schwarzenegger went on Jay Leno to announce that he was running. Seems Arnold hadn’t bothered to give Dick a heads up before the announcement.

After Schwarzenegger’s election, he tapped Riordan to be Education Secretary, but the only news Dick has made during his tenure was when he told a young girl that her name – Isis – meant “dirty, stupid girl.” He later tried to explain this by saying it was a joke. Republican humor must be oblique to the rest of us.

After promising not to cut funding for education in the state, Schwarzenegger immediately”borrowed” $2 billion from the education budget which he now says he has no intention of repaying. Teachers have pummeled him in a $5 million ad blitz, protesters are dogging the Governor’s personal appearances and his poll numbers down – so, obviously, Riordan had to go.

“The protesters or poll numbers have absolutely no impact on what I do because I am very focused, and I shoot for what needs to be done,” Schwarzenegger said, once again confusing lying with acting.

Member of Prince Abdullah’s Entourage Was on US Terror Watch List

Media Matters:

A member of the delegation of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, who met with President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, on April 25, was denied entry to the United States after the delegation member’s name appeared on a national watch list for alleged terrorists, according to reports by The Dallas Morning News and the Agence France-Presse (AFP) wire service. But the issue has received virtually no attention in print and television news coverage since AFP first reported it, and no reporters asked about it during Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s press briefing in Crawford or White House press secretary Scott McClellan’s press gaggle on Air Force One following the meeting.

Rightwing Talk Radio Ratings Deflate in DC

This may be largely attributable to the fact that current ratings are being compared with ratings during the elections last fall but there has been a drop in the ratings for talk radio across the board in the nation’s capital:

WMAL-AM (630), home of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other mighty righty talkers, was one of the big losers in the latest survey. WMAL lost nearly 30 percent of its core audience (adults ages 25-54) from the preceding three months, when the election was the dominant story. What had been an up-and-coming station a few months ago (WMAL ranked 11th among all stations during the fall) is now a middle-of-the-pack afterthought (it tied for 16th in the latest survey)…

WMAL was at least able to record some ratings. Two of its AM talk competitors, WTNT (570) and WRC (1260), barely registered. WTNT — which features conservatives Laura Ingraham and Joe Scarborough — captured an average of just 0.5 percent of the Washington area’s 2.3 million adult (25-54) listeners; it finished in a tie for 26th. WRC, which turned to a liberal talk format in January by adding Al Franken and some of his “Air America” crew, was nowhere to be found. It captured less than 0.1 percent of the audience, too low to be counted…

[One theory for why this is happening]: Conservative talk, the most popular kind on the radio, has long been driven by a passionate “us vs. them” underdog mentality. In case you missed the last election results, conservatives now dominate national and state politics. With fewer “thems” to bash, right-wing ranters may be finding it harder to maintain their traditional put-upon posture.