That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.
Jon Stewart’s selection as Oscar host means that once again the ceremony is bound to have a political bent, coming as it will just after the juggernaut of the presidential primaries. That topicality could help give the show a more unpredictability — which is normally in short supply. His 2006 stint was mixed — he was too careful at points — and he himself noted the reviews afterward. “I sucked and was great!” he said. “I was a painfully smug and unfunny heir to Johnny Carson.” The ratings were not great, but that probably has more to do with the fact that the movies were almost all “small” films rather than crowd pleasers. This time around, Stewart will have the advantage of knowing the terrain and having done it before.
Liberty Leaders: Rep. Henry Waxman, the Innocence Project’s Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, Reps. Linda and Loretta Sanchez and TV producer Victoria Riskin and her husband, playwright.screenwriter David Rintels are among the honorees on Sunday at the ACLU of Southern California’s annual Garden Party. Also being honored is Rita Henry, an ACLU member who fought Simi Valley restrictions on strawberry vendors.
Waxman is being honored in part for his role in government oversight, having “exposed waste, fraud and abuse of power under the Bush administration” as the chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Scheck and Neufeld’s work has led to more than 200 exonerations of people convicted of crimes they did not commit. Linda Sanchez was out front in efforts to press Congress to challenge the Bush adminstration’s firing of nine U.S. attorneys. Loretta Sanchez opposed efforts on the government’s warrantless wiretapping program.
Huckabee for Me: One candidate who has scarely been to Los Angeles raising money is Mike Huckabee, trying to enjoy a bounce from his better than expected showing in the Iowa Straw Poll last month. The GOP hopeful is raising money in Beverly Hills tonight at the home of Fred Wehba, the real estate mogul who owns the Watergate Hotel. Wehba calls the property “a piece of American history.”