The DIDDLY Award

Just can’t wait for 2008: Honoring inept first steps in the presidential race. And the nominees are …

Illustration: Peter Hoey

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Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who headed to Alabama to test his electoral mettle in the reddest of states, a move compared by one academic to “George Bush campaigning in gay bars”—and about as successful. Feingold wasted no time in declaring Alabama a land of “check-cashing stores and abject trailer parks.” In the official apology that followed, a spokesman said Feingold was eager to learn more “about how people like him can do a better job reaching out to places like Alabama.”

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), who warned George Bush that slack immigration policies would provoke shootings, has taken his anti-immigrant road show to that vulnerable border state of…New Hampshire. Tancredo offered this critique of his presidential bid: “so audacious in one way, and so idiotic in another.”

Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who tried to cinch his cred with the evangelical fringe by demagoguing activist judges at a nationally televised meeting convened by the Rev. Albert Mohler—a man who condemns the pope for holding “a false and unbiblical office.”

Condoleezza Rice (Secretary of State), who experienced a moment of candor when a Russian radio interviewer asked if she would run in 2008. “Da,” replied Rice, who speaks fluent Russian, before adding, “Nyet, nyet, nyet, nyet, nyet, nyet, nyet!”

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who declared, “It’s nothing short of crazy to be speculating” about 2008…just before launching his nationwide push for children’s health care, a little résumé padding he calls the “Kids Come First Act.”

WINNER! Bill Frist, who continued to stockpile campaign-commercial footage by touring the Sri Lanka tsunami disaster zone in a helicopter, at one point ordering a photographer to “get some devastation in the back.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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