Imus Returns

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

“Dick Cheney is still a war criminal,” Don Imus said this morning, his return to radio seven months after he was booted from the airwaves. “Hillary Clinton is still Satan. And I’m going on the radio.”

His debut on Citadel Radio was a signal that he hasn’t changed his style — except when it comes to “an ongoing discussion of race relations in this country.”

“I will never say anything in my lifetime that will make any of these young women at Rutgers regret or feel foolish that they accepted my apology and forgave me,” he said. “And no one else will say anything on my program that will make anyone think I did not deserve a second chance.”

Imus lost his CBS contract in April after an uproar over the disparaging remarks he made about the Rutgers’ womens basketball team. A spokesman for Media Matters for America, the watchdog org responsible for first pointing out those comments to its network of media contacts, said that they “will continue monitoring his broadcasts as we have done for years.”

“Kite Runner” Kids:
Four young actors from Paramount Vantage’s upcoming release of “The Kite Runner” have been moved from Afghanistan and taken to the United Arab Emirates.  Director Marc Forster said at a screening in Los Angeles on Sunday that the boys had  been taken to the country on Friday,  out of fears for their safety with the release of the film on Dec. 14. They feared reprisals because of the movie’s depiction of a rape scene. “I can’t really tell you what a weight came off when they landed safely,” Megan Colligan, a Paramount marketing executive involved in the effort, told the New York Times.

Oprah Countdown: As Oprah Winfrey prepares to hit the campaign trail, Newsweek looks at her potential impact in luring votes in South Carolina. Here’s one of the obstacles. Write Allison Samuels and Richard Wolffe: “In South Carolina, Obama’s skin color has been an unexpected obstacle to winning over African-Americans. ‘Black voters may love Obama, but they don’t think white America will ever let a black man win,’ says the Rev. Charles Bane of New Hope Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C. Just last week, Clinton scored endorsements from dozens of black ministers in the state, where nearly half the likely Democratic primary voters are African-American. “Bush’s eight years have been tough on us,’ Bane says. ‘We need relief right now.'”

In case you missed it on the Oprah-Obama front, Frank Rich all but endorses Obama in Sunday’s New York Times, while Maureen Dowd is, well, Maureen Dowd.

Karl Rove, meanwhile, writes in the Financial Times how Obama beat Clinton: “First, stop acting like a vitamin-deficient Adlai Stevenson.”

Fred’s Funds: Fred Thompson raised money at the Century Plaza Hotel on Saturday night, in a swing through Los Angeles that also included an appearance that morning at a rally in Laguna Woods. “We know that the most liberal element of the Democratic Party has taken control of the Democratic Party, and if they win this next election we’re going to go down the road of a welfare state,” he said at the rally. Thompson’s entry into the race was apparently a bit too late to build up the lion’s share support of the entertainment industry’s Republicans, even with his acting background. Also on Saturday, supporters of Rudy Giuliani were among those gathered for an event at the home of Kelsey Grammer.

Quotable: “I will eat Rudy Giuliani alive at a debate.” …Joe Biden, in a fund-raising appeal on Monday in which he responded to Giuliani’s criticism of his plan to partition Iraq into three separate territories of a confederacy.

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