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    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    Car Shows Rated

    If you know me, you know that I have always loved the automobile.  Years ago, I used to get all the great car magazines, Car and Driver, Road & Track, Automobile, Autoweek. Pretty much all except the hated Motor Trend, which was looked down upon by the CD and R&T writers, rightly so.

    These days, I have cut my subscriptions just to Car and Driver, though I would still recommend any of these to the auto enthusiast.  But, I am happy that we now have three television shows dedicated to the car.

    If you're a motor head, you know that the British Top Gear is the sine qua non of automobile related TV shows.  The hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May are funny, interesting, love cars, and all have those British accents that make anything sound more erudite than it actually is.  If you're not watching it, it is shown here in the states on BBC America, Monday at 9pm.  You should watch.

    Top Gear has spawned versions in countries all over the world.  Many times, the hosts have competed against their counterparts in other countries.  Famously, the UK trio has competed against their Australian and German counterparts.  While Top Gear has been around for years, it was 2010 before the show had an American version. 

    Airing on the History Channel (Sundays at 10pm), Top Gear US is hosted by Rutledge Wood (an automotive writer), Tanner Foust (a champion drifter), and Adam Ferrara (who I believe was probably an out-of-work actor).  Season one was, honestly, painful to watch.  I found the show derivative of its British counterpart (well, in fact, often a downright copy), and the hosts had little chemistry, usually reading straight from the teleprompter, and it showed.  Mercifully, season 1 was a 6 episode run.

    In the interim between the end of season 1 of Top Gear US and season 2, the Speed Channel introduced The Car Show, hosted by Adam Carolla.  If you're about my age, you'll remember Adam Carolla from Loveline, which aired on MTV in the '90's and featured the now famous for Celebrity Rehab, Dr. Drew Pinsky.  Carolla and Pinksy hsoted a radio version of Loveline before MTV took it up, and Carolla was a stand-up comedian who eventually made his way into radio.  Besides The Car Show, Carolla hosts a popular podcast, The Adam Carolla show (which you can get at the link, or via iTunes).  If you're looking for essentially an R-rated radio show for your commute, it's usually 1.5-2 hours of pretty decent comedy, and it also features Alison Rosen, who you may know from her frequent Red Eye appearances, or her own webcast, "Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend."

    But, I digress.

    Suddenly, since watching DVR'd programs has replaced reading as my hobby, I am thrilled to now have three car shows to watch every week.  But, how do they stack up?

    1. Top Gear UK is clearly number one, as I mentioned already.  It's the gold standard by which the others are measured.  Plus, Clarkson can't help but make his hatred for the Prius obvious, and, sharing that desire to bash them all off the road, I feel a kinship to him.  Plus, last week's ode to the Jaguar E-type was magnificent.  Truly is the greatest supercar ever.  Check this slideshow out.
    2. The Car Show - I have to give this show the number two slot.  Carolla is joined by John Salley, who was the center on some pretty good Georgia Tech basketball teams, and had a decent NBA career (winning 4 championships with 3 teams, though Salley was usually a bit player); Matt Farah, who is a writer for the webzine, thesmokingtire.com, and Dan Neill, who's allegedly a Pulitzer Prize winning automotive reporter for The Wall Street Journal (I'm sure you need a subscription to read all Dan's work).  Adam is actually funny, because the show's on Speed (perhaps literally), there's a certain je ne sais quoi quality about it, and the challenges and segments are original.  
    3. Top Gear US - ok, if I had to evaluate this show based on season 1, I would have said "can it."  However, even with the same hosts back, the show is vastly improved in its second iteration.  The hosts have developed some chemistry, and it seems much less a rip-off of it's cousin.  You'll know this show has some legs, though, when stars you've actually heard of are driving their "reasonably priced car" around the track for times.
    So, watch them all, if you love cars, you can't go wrong.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    The GOP Field. More crowded?

    The GOP presidential primary is really starting to heat up.  Below, you'll see Dick Morris, my favorite toe-sucker, give his lunchtime take on the state of the primaries.

    I agree with Dick that it's too early to be calling this a three-way race, between Perry/Romney/Bachmann.  As other Republicans start to realize that Obama is digging an insurmountable hole for himself, we heard today rumblings that Chris Christie and Paul Ryan may be doing some exploration into a possible run.  I think both these guys, and Sarah Palin, had set their sites on 2016, on the assumption that Obama would be formidable and they'd have little to gain by losing in a GOP primary, and that the iron would be especially hot for someone to clean things up in 2016.  In Ryan's and Christie's case, they could make the argument that they have much work to do from where they sit.  Christie has argued for a while that he wants to fix New Jersey first, while some postulate that Ryan wants greater leadership in the House (Speaker Ryan?).  As for Palin, I think she rightly has decided she needs the time to restore her national reputation.  However, for each of them, there may be no better time than now. 

    I will admit that I think Ryan and Christie may be the two best people to sell Republicanism in 2012.  Christie's take no prisoners approach to cleaning up the fiscal mess really meshes with Tea Party concerns, and Ryan is truly one of the few Republicans who can sell the GOP's plan to reduce government and fix our entitlement programs.

    Palin.  I have posted again and again about Palin.  If I had to pick a candidate who said everything i would say myself, I would look no further than Sarah Palin.  But, I still have that nagging feeling that she's just doesn't give the sense that she knows what she's talking about.  Not deeply, viscerally, like Reagan did.  I find her a tremendous retail politician, and she had an impressive record bucking the establishment in Alaska, but, I just can't get excited about a Palin candidacy (a Palin presidency, now, that's another thing).

    I lose even more enthusiasm about Palin when I juxtapose her with Michelle Bachmann.  The Left has tried for years to paint Bachmann as another idiot, but, she just doesn't project as one.  It's clear she's intelligent, and has thought out her views, and will stick to them.  Of the two GOP frontrunning women, I can't see supporting Palin over Bachmann.  I'm curious what my readers (both of you) think, especially my female ones.

    Let's talk the current crop of candidates.  I have at various times liked all of them to some degree or another (ok, Ron Paul, not so much).  Herman Cain brings the enthusiasm and positive outlook that someone who has pulled himself to great heights can.  I'm with Cain on just about everything, but, his squishiness and unwillingness to take positions on national security matters, and his pushing the anti-Islamist meme a little too far have put me off.  Not that I terribly disagree (well, we can't have religion tests for service now, can we?), but I think he just keeps on too much on some of these statements.  Still, it's early and no one's watching but the political junkies.

    Rick Santorum I think has some gravitas and fits the social conservative mold quite well.  Can this guy, who was creamed in his last run for PA senate, break through?  I just don't see it happening.

    Newt Gingrich would be my guy, except when Newt makes gaffes, he makes big giant ones.  Even if you're willing to give him a pass on his personal affairs (I am), I still can't remove the image of him sitting with Nancy Pelosi in that Global Warming PSA.  It's damn near unforgivable.  Still, to see a bunch of debates between Newt and the smartest-guy-in-the-room Obama, would be worth the price of admission.

    Which brings us to the current front runners.  Romney.  Blah.  I will not vote for Romney in the primaries.  Anyone who has ever bought into the man-made global warming crap, either can't be very intelligent, or had another agenda.  As a nominee, I'm in 100%.  He'd probably be a worthy adversary to Obama, but, there's a glibness about him that seems staged.  I am afraid that might be everyone's impression.  At the same time, there's an aura (and actual) competence about him that would put Boy Blunder to shame.

    Perry.  Ok, I like Perry alot.  I like that he showed Kay Bailey Hutchison the door in the Texas governor's race.  I like that he has made the 10th amendment an issue.  I even like that he "joked" about Texas secession.  I like that he's from Texas.  I like that he can string two sentences together.  I also have heard that he's an incredibly effective retail politician, too.  In contrast with the cold Obama, I believe people would see that and like him.  There's something to be said for that, and for the fact that people would see him as a straight shooter.  After 4 years of equivocating, and outright lying from Obama, the country's ready for that (Palin has this quality, too, as does Bachmann).

    I hope it's too early to declare this a 3 way race.  I want to see some more debates with Newt and Cain and these other 3.  I wouldn't mind seeing Chris Christie in there either.  I am just undecided right now.  My personal thought is that any of these candidates could beat Obama (even Palin).  I do believe the country is sick of politics as usual, and despite Obama's protestations, you can't come to Washington as the guy who's going to cause the oceans to recede and the temperatures to cool, have total control for 2 years, then rail about how you can't get anything done.

    The American voter is stupid, but, only the really, really, really stupid voters on the Left are going to believe what Obama's selling.

    So, enjoy Dick's video today and tell me what you think of the crowd.