December 5, 2006

Bluegrass Politics: ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ as our next U.S. Senator?

With the 2006 elections barely behind us and the 2007 races coming together, let’s jump ahead to 2008. While most Kentuckians in November 2008 will be focused on the election of our 44th president, soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) will seek his fifth term, and only an optimist could imagine McConnell back in the majority, as Republicans defend 21 of 33 Senate seats in 2008.Democrats would love nothing more than to retaliate against Republicans after they knocked off then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) in 2004. But finding a viable Kentuckian with the stature and fund-raising ability to effectively challenge McConnell will be a tall order.After surviving close elections in 1984 and ’90, McConnell put together a 12-point victory in 1996, then crushed Lois Combs Weinberg (D) by 30 points in 2002.While there’s little doubt U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler (D) or Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson (D) could provide McConnell a top-shelf challenge, there’s little evidence either is interested. More likely, Democrats will hope a lesser-known challenger captures national attention and rides the wave to victory, as we saw this month when Jim Webb (D) knocked off Sen. George Allen (R-Va).Well … there is one other possibility: Kentucky’s very own George Clooney.Born in Lexington and raised in Northern Kentucky (note that McConnell is from Alabama), the two-time holder of the title “Sexiest Man Alive” (1997 and 2006) would present quite an opportunity for Democrats. Clooney, 45, is no stranger to politics; he even recently testified before the United Nations Security Council about his visit to Darfur, Sudan, where genocide is destroying the population. Clooney is as articulate as he is at ease when discussing issues like Iraq, North Korea, warrantless surveillance, domestic issues and why he’s a Democrat. He was even ahead of the curve this summer by calling for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to run for president in 2008.While certainly a fixture of American pop culture, Clooney never fails to discuss growing up in Augusta, where he played baseball (and even tried out for the Cincinnati Reds), and in a recent Larry King Live interview, he spoke of the back-breaking work of cutting tobacco as a kid.Clooney has never been shy about expressing interest in politics, though without fail he’s self-deprecating about why he should not run for office. In this month’s Esquire, Clooney mused that the effects of watching his father lose his 2004 race for Congress in Northern Kentucky, and the compromising nature of politics, have caused him to rethink a run. But it’s that very sort of thoughtful assessment — rather than an unabashed desire to be elected to office — that makes Clooney so appealing.Celebrity actors running for high office is nothing new, as we’ve seen with President Ronald Reagan, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Sen. Fred Thompson, Rep. Sonny Bono and many others. Even Gopher from “The Love Boat” (Fred Grandy) served four terms in Congress.In a race with Clooney, McConnell would likely find himself as the candidate trying to keep up with fundraising, Clooney could take his case directly to voters if McConnell, 64, refused to share the stage with the Sexiest Man Alive (as he’s often done with previous opponents). No doubt the voters would turn out, en masse, to see candidate Clooney on the campaign trail, and such a race might be the very thing needed to engage younger voters who shy away from political participation more than any other demographic.And for a poor state like Kentucky, it’s not hard to imagine the “wow factor” of a Clooney candidacy. If you think about what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a cool downtown baseball stadium have done for the image of Cleveland, imagine what a Sen. Clooney would do for the image (and self-image) of Kentucky.Would Clooney have to defend some of his more unabashed liberal views, particularly on social issues? Of course. But voter behavior is much more complicated than a robotic assessment of candidates based on social issues (see John Yarmuth). Remember that an Austrian-born Republican with no political experience and a funny accent easily won two elections for governor in staunchly Democratic California.Before Democrats offer up a second tier candidate to take on McConnell in 2008, maybe they should aim big, for once, and ask the Sexiest Man Alive to come back to his Old Kentucky Home. Mark Nickolas is publisher of Kentucky’s most widely read political blog, Contact him at

Al Cross and Mark Nickolas?????

By get real


I see you are touting the son of Al Cross' friend and former colleague to run against Mitch McConnell. What a coincidence that you would tout a friend of Al Cross' son. Actually there seem to be many coincidences between you and Al Cross. For instance, what a coincidence that Al Cross would invite you to the Southern Journalists Roundtable 12/3/06 - 12/4/06. Not just anyone can be invited to the Southern Journalists Roundtable - since you don't fit the criteria required for the personal invitation, it was ... nice ... coincidental ... that Al Cross picked you, of all people, to join him at that event.

I noticed there are some other coincidences between you and Al Cross.

In October 2006, Al Cross graced his presence at a Republican Conservative Blog Conference in Lexington. Bryan Mills sent a Press Release out to the Kentucky media, including Al Cross in the Press Release, and YOU wound up with the email, posted a thread on your blog, before the Press had even had a chance to report about it. Was someone on that email list an anti-Fletcher, GOP basher? How did YOU end up with a Press Release that was addressed to Al Cross and the Kentucky Media?

With all the coincidences between you and Al Cross - I have concluded that you are STILL the same no body you were when you got to the state. Al Cross is a "political insider." There has been no phenomenon of your trashy chatroom that has taken Kentucky politics by storm. You are NO political insider. It seems that Al Cross is getting your name in INK, getting you invited to radio, tv appearances, symposiums AND Journalists Roundtables .. Al Cross .. That makes you, Mark Nickolas, a "boy."

1. How could Mark Nickolas, of all people, have gotten any notoriety?
Ans: A NOBODY who was campaign manager to a man that got bombed in the gov. election. Other than just being a failed campaign manager - no notoriety about that?
2. How could Mark Nickolas afford to not work and run a chatroom blog since June 2005?
Ans. Someone is paying some BIG donations to keep this guy a float.
He claims to be a 501(c)4 and request/accept donations but FAILS to let the IRS know and FAILS to file annual returns for a (c)4
3. How did Mark Nickolas get an appearance on Caleb Brown's show a week after he started his blog in June 2005?
Ans. Al Cross and Caleb Brown are BOTH on the committee for "Post the Vote"
4. How did Mark Nickolas get invited on the Dave Baker's radio show in June 2005
Ans. Lexington Radio where Al Cross has lots of friends.
5. How could Mark Nickolas be on a KET panel WITH Al Cross in August of 2005?
Ans. Al Cross ... Again.
6. How could Mark Nickolas get quoted in the SAME New York Times article AS Al Cross in June 2006?
Ans. Al Cross in the same article? Has to be ... Al Cross ... Again.
7. How would the New York Times ever even have HEARD of Mark Nickolas?
Ans. Al Cross probably told the reporter to call him during Al's interview.
8. How could Mark Nickolas afford lawyers for all of the lawsuits he has filed?
Ans. Donations from a BIG contributor to his site. But who?
9. Is the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at UK School of Journalists donating money?
Ans. Al Cross is the Director, maybe he should be asked.
10. Who ever heard of Mark Nickolas before his blog?
Ans. Al Cross sure had.
10. How could Mark Nickolas be allowed to sit on a symposium with John David Dyche AND Al Cross at
Bellarmine University in October 2006?
Ans. Al Cross ... Again.
11. How could Mark Nickolas get invited to the same Southern Journalists Roundtable that Al Cross was invited to? The requirements for invitation are very STRICT? The Roundtable is Not open to the public. Mark Nickolas does not meet any of the criteria ,,, But Al Cross does.
Ans. Al Cross ... Again.
12. How did Mark Nickolas wind up with a Press Release addressed to Al Cross AND the media?
Ans. One can only speculate.
13. Is Al Cross whispering in Nickolas' ear on who to write positive threads on and who to write negative threads on?
Ans. One can only speculate.

Boy, Al Cross and Nickolas' name sure appear together a lot. It is no secret that Al Cross is rabid against republicans. It should be no secret that Al Cross could ask his friends in the media to interview the likes of Mark Nickolas. With all of the information right under our nose for all these months I am surprised it took us this long to figure it out who was "propping" Nickolas up. The old saying, "hide it right under their nose and they'll never see it."

Never again will I scratch my head in bewilderment when Al Cross, with a straight face, describes Mark Nickolas as a "political insider" and "popular blogger." It is far too obvious that if it weren't for Al Cross whispering in the ears of HIS "good ole boys" NO ONE in this state would have ever had to endure the rumors and untrue innuendo that Mark Nickolas spouts about.

WOW! Is all I can say. WOW! I seem recall Mr. Cross criticizing the "good ole boy" network and yet HE is doing his OWN "good ole boy" networking to "prop-up" Nickolas. I thought Mr. Cross had more integrity for the ETHICS of Journalism. I was WAY wrong.

Note to Mark, You were a NOBODY when you entered the state and you are STILL a NOBODY. You are just a nobody that enjoys contaminating the blogosphere with your unreliable threads. Your blog will never be a reliable source for information.

Who IS Hollar Boy??

By get real

Seems that at 1:15PM 12/6/06 Hollar Boy really scolded Mark Nickolas for publishing his Clooney piece in LEO and on the blog?!?!?! In fact, Hollar Boy said, "I regret that you wrote this post, and the piece in LEO, Mark." Then went on to say, "Did you discuss this with anyone before putting it out there?"

Also of note, almost as soon as Holler Boy SCOLDED Mark and slapped him down with the "pen" ... and in typical Mark Nickolas style, rushed to put a meaningless thread ABOVE the Clooney piece to OBVIOUSLY re-direct the readers. Looks like Holler Boy has a lot of influence on Nickolas. Wonder who it could be?

Is it a coincidence that Al Cross grew up in the "HOLLER" between Lake Cumberland, Dale Hollow Lake, the western front of the Appalachians and the Tennessee border.

Thinking on my keypad: ....
Al Cross grew up in a "HOLLER" ... Holler Boy scolds Nickolas and Nickolas jumps and redirects readers ... Could someone that grew up in a "holler" nickname him/herself "Holler Boy?" ... Al Cross ... "HOLLER" .... IS AL CROSS - HOLLER BOY????? Could it be?????