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Bill in Portland Maine
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Three Internet centuries ago, on December 10, 2003, a guy named Bill in Portland Maine announced a New Series at Daily Kos. He called it Cheers & Jeers. From the start, it offered respite from the daily grind of hard news in those days when Don Rumsfeld was berating the press for claiming there was an insurgency in Iraq. In that first edition of what has become an almost nine-year trek, Bill wrote:
JEERS to George W. Bush's "spontaneous" appearance during Larry King Live show.  Walk-on during end of Laura interview reveals hopelessly inarticulate boob.  No Red Ryder BB gun for you, pal, until you learn how to say "Merry Christmas" without gritting your teeth.
Koufax Award, Best Series 2004
Bill won this award for the
 first full year of Cheers and Jeers.
Within a year, Cheers and Jeers shared the honors of a Koufax Award for Best Series with David Neiwert's The Rise of Pseudo-Fascism. Bill got funnier and funnier, or perhaps he just released ever more samples of what had always been there. He finally wound up on the Front Page of Daily Kos five days a week.

It's a paying gig. But the pay comes directly from Bill's readers. And, just as with your local public radio station, that means fund-raising. Which, of course, nobody at the station or who listens to the station likes. But without the fund-raisers, no station. Likewise, without the fund-raisers, no Bill. Because he has to put food and rum-and-Coke on the table.

Here's where you can contribute. Any amount will do: $5, $10, $100. But if you can afford it, a recurring gift would be really nice. I told Bill I would put him down for $7.50 a month. But only if he answered the following questions:

Meteor Blades: Could your alternate moniker have been Born in Portland Maine?
Bill in Portland Maine: Great question! Using Romney's Principle of Retroactivity, I could've been born anywhere! But I'm proud to have made my debut at Mercy Hospital in Mount Vernon, Ohio surrounded by love, Schlitz, and clouds of smoke from the doctor's unfiltered Camels.

What political event in the past 10 years do think generated the most jokes?
Awesome question! Ten years takes us back to 1872, so I'm thinking it was when Grant's beard fell off during a debate with Horace Greeley. But coming in a close second would be when a boozy Dick Cheney raised his shotgun, filled a lawyer's face with birdshot, sat on the news for a full day, and never apologized. I hear the quail are still laughing about it.

For breakfast, maple syrup or honey on those pancakes?
Sticky question! Pure Maine-made maple syrup only. Don’t ever ever ever buy syrup from Vermont or New Hampshire. Their maple trees aren’t the right height.

The passing of gas seems of considerable interest to you, which, I suppose is why you're interested in politics. Have you calculated your fart footprint?
Terrific question! No, I haven't, on account of I've heard that's socialism.

How many states have you lived in?
I'm glad you asked! Apart from inebriation and confusion, I've lived in Ohio, Michigan, Maine and Nordrhein Westfalen in Germany. I'd love to visit Denial some day.
 
What's the last non-fiction book you read? Should the rest of us read it?

I'm thrilled with your inquiry! I'm currently working on Rachel Maddow's Drift and Paul Krugman's End This Depression Now. Among the classics, I recommend Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Kos's epic American Taliban, and Owner's Manual: Kenmore Dishwasher Model 363.14051692. Be sure to read only autographed copies, which are much better.

When you are not making us do the old rotflmao, what acronym describes how you act when something cracks you up?
Decent question! I usually go with FTSGNICU: Fetch The Super Glue NOW I'm Cracking Up! (It's a skin condition aggravated by dryness.)
 
Are you optimistic that Mainers will get it right this time on marriage equality?

That question is so gay! But, no, I'm not too hopeful on this issue in this state. Too many people here can't tie their shoelaces let alone understand that getting a marriage license from city hall won’t destroy their religion or turn their kids gay. Let the judges decide, not the neighbors who don’t even know what day to put the garbage cans out. But…Obama is going to crush Romney up here, so I'll be cheering that!

It's an election year and we need every Democrat we can hang onto. But if we could spare one, who would you like to see go?
Ooh! Ooh! I know this one: Tim Geithner!!!

What kind of music makes you feel invisible to the GOP horde?
Fabulous question! John Williams, the greatest living composer alive. In addition to his movie scores and half-dozen Olympic themes, he wrote a lovely piece for President Obama's inauguration. I hope he's writing an encore for next January. He should call it the "Two Term President Barack Obama March" and dedicate it to Mitch McConnell.

What political movie—old or new—do you think everyone should see?
Tough question! There are too many, but I'm gonna pluck out Thirteen Days, which chronicles the Cuban missile crisis. It does a good job showing the internal struggle between JFK's generals and his civilian advisors. Bruce Greenwood deserved an Oscar nomination for his amazing portrayal of President Kennedy.

Do you think Twitter is an intolerable time-suck or the new sliced bread?
I'm glad that I'm glad you asked! For me Twitter is sliced bread in how it helps me practice editing skills and try out jokes to see if they stick. It's definitely a time-suck, though. Everything in moderation, as they say.

Other than Daily Kos, what are your favorite places to land in blogworld?
Bloggerrific question! I adore the geniuses at TPM, Eshcaton, Think Progress, Balloon Juice, Digby, Americablog, Pam's House Blend, Dependable Renegade, and Rachel Maddow's blog. There are others, but they're late with their endorsement checks, so…no dice.

If YOU were moderating the debates, what question would you ask Barack Obama? Joe Biden?
Great question-centric question! I ain't no softball thrower, so I'd ask the president why he continues implementing so many of the Bush policies that needlessly threaten our civil liberties. I'd ask Biden about what procedural changes he'd make in the Senate to prevent the kind of obscene and unprecedented Republican obstruction we've witnessed over the last four years.

What question would you ask Mitt Romney? Paul Ryan?
Trick question! I wouldn’t ask them anything because they'd keep me isolated in a "free speech zone" five miles away. Plus, what's the point asking either of them a question? They'll just answer by saying, "I think the REAL question is…" and steer the answer into the weeds.

Your sense of humor is uniquely you, but is there someone who served as a sort of comic mentor, a model for your brand of funniness?
Funny question! My early influences are Steve Martin, Dave Barry, The Three Stooges, Hogan's Heroes, MAD magazine, and "center square" Paul Lynde, who's also from Mount Vernon, Ohio. But the person who really took me to the goofy side was my grandmother—she was a Mark Twain historian and laughed more than any other relative in the family. Also taught me to swear.

No waffling here: rattlesnakes or ducks?
Your questions are becoming tedious and tiresome. The answer is obvious: rattlesnakes who eat ducks but poop them out unharmed.

I have one remaining question, but I need to put quarters in the dryer. Please ask and answer the final question yourself.

Can you tell me how to blow up the Death Star again? I wasn't listening the first time.
Yes. A small one-man fighter should be able to penetrate the outer defense. You are required to maneuver straight down this trench and skim the surface to this point. The target area is only two meters wide. It's a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port. The shaft leads directly to the reactor system. A precise hit will start a chain reaction which should destroy the station. The shaft is ray-shielded, so you'll have to use proton torpedoes. Man your ships…and may the Force be with you.

Five years ago Kos was kind enough to set up PayPal accounts for you to contribute both one-time donations and recurring monthly donations.

One time contribution: click here

$5 monthly contribution: click here

$10 monthly contribution: click here

$20 monthly contribution: click here

To send a check via snail mail, the address is: Bill Harnsberger, 16 Pitt Street, Portland, ME, 04103.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 01:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA.

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