Etheridge to host fundraiser for Kucinich

Singer Melissa Etheridge is scheduled to host a fundraiser for Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) on Wednesday night at the Cleveland Public Theatre, to be preceded by a private reception at Luxe. The fundraiser, called “A conversation with Melissa Etheridge,” will feature an onstage conversation between Etheridge and Kucinich, with questions posed by the audience.

“He’s one of the most important congressmen we have,” Etheridge told ITK in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “He cannot lose his seat. The Republicans and corporate Democrats are pumping a lot of money into this race.”

Etheridge, a lesbian, first became enthralled with Kucinich last year at a presidential forum sponsored by Logo and the Human Rights Campaign when she first learned Kucinich was the only White House hopeful who supported gay marriage. “All the other candidates were like, ‘No.’ He said, ‘No, excuse me. This is about equality.’ ”

This was the forum where New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) said he believed that being gay was a choice. Richardson later reversed course.

“I thought I was throwing him a softball,” Etheridge recalled of Richardson. She thought to herself, “Ooh, no, maybe he didn’t understand.”

Etheridge joked that she initially thought Kucinich was too short to be president. After she learned of his pro-gay marriage stance, she threw her support behind him until he dropped out. Etheridge then backed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

“Fear is what the Republicans have now and they’re charging up their base with their fear,” Etheridge said. “This conservative party knows how to control people with fear. …We’ve been in fear for eight years and we’re burnt.”

On a happier note, Etheridge has a Christmas album coming out, titled “A New Thought for Christmas.” She said it is a culmination of surviving cancer and realizing the importance of “humanity on earth.”

“Conservatives were accusing the liberals of being godless and I thought, ‘This has to stop, we are not a godless people.’ So I thought, ‘I’m going to start talking about God.’ Christmas means a lot to me.”


Endorsements that candidates don’t want

There are endorsements a candidate prefers never to have — the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) comes to mind. So does the Ku Klux Klan.

Republican Tom McClintock, who is running for an open California seat against Democrat Charlie Brown, surely would have preferred that the KKK not endorse him for governor in 2003.

Democrats are resurrecting that endorsement to play against McClintock, who hopes to win the seat being vacated by Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.).

McClintock spokesman Bill George did not return calls seeking comment on the KKK endorsement.

Former KKK member David Duke endorsed Randy Graf, the Republican candidate defeated by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in 2006. Though Graf repudiated the endorsement, he lost and the national party abandoned him.


Oliver Stone: ‘Are we alone? Are we alone?’

Filmmaker Oliver Stone has been on the media circuit promoting “W.,” the new film starring Josh Brolin as President Bush. Stone convened a conference call Monday morning from Paris with American reporters.

Stone seemed shaky on the details of a conference call. He said he didn’t know where to begin and remarked, “I’m here on a European press tour, just started in Paris. It’s 4 in the afternoon.”

Stone declared his film more important than the upcoming presidential election: “It overshadows the election, in my opinion,” he said. “I frankly think [President Bush] is one of the greatest stories of the last 40 years, bigger than Reagan, bigger than Nixon.”

Stone was asked repeatedly about the authenticity of Brolin’s depiction of Bush, since many quotes were taken out of context. “These quotes are strung over years,” he said. “As a dramatist we have to simplify and condense and I don’t think we crossed the line of what happened in that administration. They said these things.”

After insisting that the Bush family has no desire to look inside themselves psychologically, Stone offered the Bushes a private screening of the film, saying, “If they would like to screen the film with me, I’d be most gracious. It’s very hard, I know, to see a film about yourself. Neither Freud nor Darwin meant a lot to them.”

When the interview came to a close, Stone kept asking the call’s organizer, “Are we alone?” No, hang up, he was told. “Are we alone?” he repeated. No, hang up, he was told again. We’ll call back, he was told. “OK, please do,” he said.


Politicians and delinquent children

In case lawmakers don’t get into enough trouble on their own, they have family members to help. Last week’s sentencing of Rep. Bobby Rush’s (D-Ill.) son to six months in prison for sexual encounters with female inmates is the latest example of a politician’s family member clashing with the law.

Jeffrey M. Rush, 42, was found guilty of having sex with jailed women while he was a security supervisor at a Chicago-area detention facility. His six-month prison sentence came with a 30-month probation period and a $1,335 fine.

The Rushes aren’t alone.

Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) and her son, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D), have had a rough year.

The erstwhile “hip-hop mayor” is scheduled to receive his jail sentence next week after admitting to lying under oath to cover up an affair he had with his former chief of staff. The 38-year-old could face four months in jail and $1 million in fines.

Rep. Gwen Moore’s (D-Wis.) son, Sowande Omokunde, pulled a prank that cost him dearly. Omokunde was sentenced to four months in jail in 2006 after pleading no contest to slashing car tires outside a Bush-Cheney campaign office on Election Day 2004. He was 25. (The son of a former acting mayor of Milwaukee was also charged in the incident.)

Rush’s office did not return a call for comment.

Other political families in turmoil include:

• The Kernells of Tennessee. The son of state Democratic Rep. Mike Kernell earlier this month pleaded not guilty to charges of hacking into an e-mail account of Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. If he’s found guilty, David C. Kernell, 20, could face five years of jail time and $250,000 in fines.

• The Schaffers of Colorado. Bob Schaffer, a former House member and now a GOP candidate to replace Sen. Wayne Allard (R), told local media he and his wife were handing down “firm and severe” discipline to their 19-year-old son, Justin, for posting derogatory statements about Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) on his Facebook page. Justin could face censure from his college at the University of Dayton.


Sighting: Paul Wolfowitz dines at the Bombay Club

Paul Wolfowitz, former deputy secretary of Defense and former president of the World Bank, apparently isn’t feeling the economic crisis too badly. Last week he was spotted dining at the fancy Indian restaurant the Bombay Club, located near the White House. He seemed to be well-known to the maître d’, a bystander said, and sat up front at a corner table.

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