Friday, August 3, 2007

Pork, Pie and Politics

If you're going to be spending Saturday afternoon like me, in an air-conditioned living room hiding from a truly vicious heat wave, check out KET's live web-casting from Fancy Farm starting at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

If you know what Fancy Farm is, and you're not from Kentucky, congratulations! You are a seriously addicted political geek in dire need of A Life. If you're from Kentucky and you don't know what Fancy Farm is, what are you doing reading a political blog? Go back to surfing Facebook, you slacker.

Fancy Farm is a tiny town in the far, far southwestern corner of Kentucky, where, on the first Saturday in August, the population explodes from 600 to 15,000 people there to eat the Best Barbeque North of Memphis and heckle politicians attempting to make campaign speeches outdoors in a heat/humidity index pushing four figures.

Rumor this year is that the Young Democrats are going to dress up in orange prison jumpsuits and march around to mock Indicted and Admitted Criminal Governor Ernie Fletcher.

Republican heckling of Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Beshear is supposedly going to involve a well-funded parody of Beshear's support for expanded gambling. I have a hard time believing they're not going to exploit running mate Dan Mongiardo's - well, the repugs can't decide whether Dan's gay or a cradle-robber for getting engaged to a girl half his age (I do wish the wingnuts would keep their sex fears consistent.)

The event is being emceed by Republican State Senate President David Williams, who has vowed to "control" the crowd. This announcement caused uncontrollable laughter in every precinct of the state. The whole point of Fancy Farm is to goad your candidate's opponent into some kind of foaming-at-the-mouth freak-out that your guy can make the centerpiece of his attack ads.

Fancy Farm always provides political theater at its best; this year, with the first Republican Governor in 32 years running for re-election despite admitting breaking state law and boasting an approval rating worse than George Bush's, is driving partisans on both sides to new heights - depths? - of bring-your-video-camera drama.

Williams' threat of "control" is driving Democrats to a performance-art frenzy. Expect Gestapo-style "security" tactics against Democratic demonstrators.

But the big attraction is Kentucky's own U.S. Senate Minority Leader and Facilitator of the Filibuster Mitch McConnell.

Mitch will have his handful of supporters, of course, and his hundreds of bought-and-paid-for demonstrators, but the Fancy Farm crowd demands its speakers stand up alone and expose themselves to shrieking abuse.

No tame New York Times reporters at Fancy Farm. No Fox Noise sycophants. No Joe Lierberman to hide behind.

Just you, Mitch. You, the heat, the humidity and 15,000 partisans slavering for payback.

And the Food Network, there to check out the barbeque.