So, what to make of Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate? P&J's first thought: the pick is an indication that at the moment, Barack Obama is leading in the polls — the truly credible polls, the polls the public never sees, the polls the candidates themselves commission.

Had Romney chosen Senator Rob Portman, who represents the critical state of Ohio and doesn't come with Ryan's ideological baggage, that might have indicated the race was truly neck-and-neck.

The New Yorker's Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza penned an article on Paul Ryan for the August 6 edition. It describes him as a true right-wing ideologue. And undoubtedly the Obama campaign will make much of the famous Ryan budget plan (a document so extreme that Romney himself has distanced himself from it).

More interesting to your superior correspondents is Ryan's infatuation with a certain novelist. "The reason I got involved with public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person," Ryan says in the piece, "it would be Ayn Rand."

Ryan, of course, can't go quite so far as to embrace Rand's atheism. After all, the Christian fundamentalist element of the GOP base is just too large to ignore. But it is interesting to note that Ryan claimed in a 2005 speech that Ayn Rand was "required reading" for his office staff and interns.

The race is on, folks, and it seems that, as far as political philosophy goes, there hasn't been as clear a choice for president since Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon Johnson in 1964.


BUSH MEAT

Last month Dubya Bush, the GOP's village idiot, announced that he shan't be attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Since Bush the Younger's eight years of failed policies, from wars to Wall Street, had nothing at all to do with the nation's economic collapse — nothing at all to do with the mess that President Obama has somehow been unable to clean up — P&J can't imagine why our old pal Dubya wouldn't be front and center.

Bring him down to Florida, we say. And let's get Mama Grizzly and the Dr. Frankenstein who brought her to life — the sad and disgraced John McCain, whose "sell by" date expired a decade ago — out there with that whole unspeakable gang. Busy that weekend, Dick Cheney?

God, what a horror show awaits us.


MUSIC TO OUR EARS

Congrats to the organizers of the Olympics for a marvelous event. It almost made up for the deplorable job NBC did covering the Games — its stable of saccharine "back stories" and scenery-chewing hams like the atrociously toupeed and self-admiring Bob Costas leaving you begging to get back to the action, even if it was team handball or synchronized diving.

The production offered up by the organizers, themselves, was far better — the opening and closing ceremonies providing inspired bookends to the Games. The London team used music from the likes of David Bowie, John Lennon, and Annie Lennox, where the empty suits in the US doubtless would have supplied us with Manilow and Madonna.

A tip of the beret and sombrero across the Atlantic while humming Bowie's "Heroes."


A TRUE RED SOX

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