P&J are huge fans of Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone's political guru, for his way with words and his uncanny ability to explain how Wall Street totally raped the American public with its (unfortunately ongoing) financial chicanery. Witness this little passage from a recent article in RS: a "Mitt Romney presidency [will feel] like four straight years of waking up with a naked Lloyd Blankfein sitting on your face."

But the boy can also be deadly earnest.

In the same article, he takes the media — even himself — to task for failing to tackle the serious issues or to bluntly ask Obama and Romney to explain exactly what they would do if elected.

"Oh my!" the candidates might exclaim. "We weren't expecting such a hard question, Baba Wawa!"

Instead, Taibbi writes, the media takes the easy way out and focuses predominantly on the horse race — "analyzing" the constant stream of poll numbers, focusing on who's winning this very instant.

What if the talking hairdos didn't have the polls to fall back on every day? Taibbi tells us: "I can think of a couple of cable networks that would have to go completely dark tomorrow, as in Dan Rather-Dead-Fucking-Air dark, if they had to come up with even 10 seconds of news content that wasn't centered on who was winning. That's the dirtiest secret we in the media have kept from you over the years: Most of us suck so badly at our jobs, and are so uninterested in delving into any polysyllabic subject, that we would literally have to put down our shovels and go home if we didn't have poll numbers we can use to terrify our audiences."

There's more truth in those two sentences than you'll get in a year's worth of major TV network political news coverage.


SELF-PROMOTION AT HALITOSIS HALL

On Monday, the BeloJo's "Political Scene" column reported that John Marion, executive director of the Vo Dilun chapter of the public advocacy group Common Cause, has raised concerns about the General Assembly-run Capitol TV running softball interviews with incumbents during election season.

Capitol TV is exempted from a state law titled "Political Advertising From Official Budgets Prohibited," which states that "no elected official shall permit the expenditure of public funds from any official budget under his or her authority for any publication, advertisement, broadcast or telecast of his or her photograph, voice or other likeness to be broadcast or distributed to the public during the [120] days preceding any primary or general election in which he or she is a candidate."

The exemption allows Capitol TV to serve as a taxpayer-funded publicity machine for the General Assembly's Democratic state leadership. Recently, a dozen legislators sat down for cozy chats with the legislature's "in-house TV host" Dave Barber (a $70,687 per-year employee of the General Assembly). None of the legislators were Republicans.

Since the launch of Capitol TV, P&J have maintained that the operation is merely a tool of the Halitosis Hall leadership and that the legislature should have put the money into Channel 36, Rhode Island's PBS station.

Of course, the leadership could not fully control Rhode Island PBS, so that's a non-starter. Nice going, gang. Once again, you've made us proud to be Vo Dilunduhs.


LET RIPTA KNOW WHAT YOU THINK

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is in the midst of yet another evaluation — this one a route-by-route look at how the agency might improve service.

Jorge is a regular bus rider who keeps close tabs on RIPTA policy and practices. He urges readers to weigh in on proposed changes to the 58 regular bus routes. Go to ripta.com/featured-project to have your say.

Send hot-button issues and Pulitzer-grade tips to p&j@phx.com.

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