Rep. Earl Blumenaur (D-Ore.), well known around the Capitol for his unique fashion sense and his penchant for bicycle riding, is challenging conservative columnist George Will to a debate.

The spat began when Will published a column questioning whether government transportation policy can modify Americans' commuting choices and combat urban sprawl. Will was particularly harsh on Portland, which Blumenauer represents:
[Portland's] government has been, intermittently, as progressive as all get-out, trying to use zoning, light-rail projects and high-density housing to cool the planet by curbing automobile use. This sort of "New Urbanism" is metastasizing. Last year California's attorney general, Jerry Brown, 71, the state's once (1975-82) and, he hopes, future governor, was a prime mover behind a new law that would deny certain state aid to communities that do not adopt "smart growth" plans. They are supposed to herd Californians into higher-density living near mass-transit rail lines in order to reduce their carbon footprints (tire prints, actually).

Will makes clear that he does not find this kind of government meddling appropriate:
Once upon a time, government was supposed to defend the shores, deliver the mail and let people get on with their lives. Today's far-seeing and fastidious government, not content with designing the cars Americans drive to their homes and the lightbulbs they use in their homes (do you know that, come 2014, the incandescent lightbulb will be illegal?), wants to say where their homes can be.

Now, Blumenauer is firing back via Twitter, challenging Will to a debate:
In Newsweek: it's LaHood that gets it. George Will doesn't. It's about "choices" not behavior modification

In Portland the P word is Progress. There's one way to find out, Mr. Will, come to Portland and we'll debate-what you write and what you see

And bring your bowtie, your neckwear choice may be one area we may actually agree

In a lengthier statement on his website, Blumenauer gets more sepcific:
"Rather than pontificate about practicality from a far, I challenge Mr. Will to come experience Portland, and then debate the facts, the future and the visions we offer," continued Blumenauer. "I am proud to defend the Portland model so painstakingly developed and implemented over the last 1/3 of a century. Maybe he will understand why young well educated people move here without jobs and older, well established business and professional people won't leave for jobs that pay more. We will be happy to buy his plane ticket and give him a bottle of Oregon pinot to die for." [emphasis added]

And WINE? Mr. Will, the ball is in your court

(Cross-posted at the Twitter Room.)