That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.
Rudy Giuliani is "unlikely to participate" in the GOP version of the YouTube debate on CNN, according to ABCNews.com. Mitt Romney already told a New Hampshire paper that he would not take party, saying, "I think the presidency ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman." Something tells me there will be video somewhere of Romney praising snowmen and other winter creatures.
Anyhow, with Romney and Giuliani passing up the debate, they may be missing out on a chance to inject a bit of irreverence into their campaigns. USA Today’s Jill Lawrence notes that humor is being used more and more as a strategic tool among 08ers, whether it is the YouTube effect or the influence of Jon Stewart.
Spielberg, China and Darfur: What influence can a Hollywood director have in Chinese foreign affairs? While Steven Spielberg’s reps stopped short of saying that he was thinking of pulling out as an artistic adviser to the Olympics in Beijing next year, Time’s Simon Elegant says that there are signs that China is very sensitive to the issue. They have made some statements on Darfur that are significant: It shows that they are sensitive to pressure. Elegant writes, "Spielberg is a big name but the broader implications are much bigger than him. As I’ve said on this blog before, Beijing is in for a shock at the extent to which activists of all stripes will try to use the Olympics as leverage. The reason is simple: everyone knows how desperately he Communist party leadership wants the Games to go smoothly, which makes them extremely vulnerable to pressure." Further, he suggests that a Spielberg decision to pullout could have the effect of starting new campaigns among Darfur activists to also put pressure on corporations to remove their sponsorship from the Games.
Moore Subpeona: Michael Moore says the Bush administration has issued him a subpeona regarding his trip to Cuba for the filming of his movie "Sicko." "I haven’t even told my own family yet," Moore said on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" last night. "I was just informed when I was back there with Jay that the Bush administration has now issued a subpoena for me." Meanwhile, Moore’s website has unveiled its "Sicko" healthcare card, inspired by one man featured in the documentary who used Moore’s name to get action with his insurance company. Leno signed up.
Thompson Troubles?: Fred Thompson has so far raised about $3 million for his presumptive presidential candidacy, a lower-than-expected figure according to some observers. But he has yet to declare that he is running, and the long wait has apparently frustrated staffers. Another quit yesterday. Thompson, however, denies that the reason he’s waiting to announce has anything to do with the desire to collect more residuals from "Law & Order" reruns. Once he jumps in, equal time rules will force networks to pull them.
Underwriting the Underdogs: Tina Daunt talks to Mark Ruffalo, among other celebrities, in her Los Angeles Times piece about industry figures who donate to longshot candidates. Ruffalo backs Mike Gravel. He tells her, "I’ve seen Gravel in these debates, and I was shocked by him but also inspired by his independence. I like that he’s an elder statesman. He has been there, done that. He’s not beholden to anyone."
"Simpsons" Politics: On the day of the opening of "The Simpsons Movie," Slate notes that the show has taken an "ambivalent, middle ground on the environment," with tree huggers doing almost as much harm as polluters. Their eco-record below: