NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Presidential elections are usually serious business, but President Barack Obama and likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney are taking a little time for laughs during the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday.
Obama and Romney have taped video segments that will appear as part of the country music award show’s opening segment. CMT President Brian Philips said in a statement that each is “in on the joke.”
“They’re each great sports,” he said.
The fun kicks off at 8 p.m. EDT from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on CMT with hosts Toby Keith and Kristen Bell. A host of celebrities from across the entertainment dial are scheduled to appear as well, but they’ll be battling for attention with the focus on Obama and Romney.
More superlative performances from the 2012 session of the 107th General Assembly (Note: This is an unedited version of a column in Sunday’s News Sentinel. Edited version HERE): Reelection Resolution of the Year – By remarkable coincidence, it seems the representatives who sponsored the most controversial statement-of-opinion resolutions are facing Republican primary opposition in seeking a new term. There was strong competition the production of the non-binding resolutions, but if the objective was to rally the base with red-meat rhetoric, irritating Democrats in the process, the best was Rep. Kevin Brooks’ HJR588, condemning “nefarious and destructive nature” of United Nations Agenda 21. Gov. Bill Haslam refused to sign the measure, but then he’s not facing a Republican primary opposition this year. Most Conservative Democrat – Rep. John DeBerry of Memphis, who often voted with Republicans on social issue legislation and occasionally brought his gift for oratory into play, as with an impassioned speech in support of the “gateway sexual activity” bill. Honorable mention to Reps. Eddie Bass of Prospect, who reportedly flirted with switching parties at one point during the session, and John Mark Windle of Livingston. Most Liberal Republican – No nominations.
Some legislative superlatives from the 2012 session of the 107th Tennessee General Assembly (slightly expanded from version appearing in the News Sentinel): Bringing Home the Bacon Award: Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who in fiscally conservative fashion got two big earmarks in the state budget for his district, $8.6 million to preserve Doe Mountain and $500,000 to help build a “Birth of Country Music Museum” in Bristol, Va. (Well, Bristol, Va., isn’t actually in his district, but it’s really close.) Against the Wind Award: Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, who cast the sole no vote against Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislation authorizing direct cash grants to companies expanding their business in Tennessee, describing the move as “crony capitalism.”
More superlatives from the 2011 session of the 107th General Assembly:
* Interfaith Dialog Award: To Sen. Bill Ketron and Rep. Judd Matheney, who brought hundreds of Muslims to the Legislative Plaza – a place most had never been before – to engage in discussion on the merits of their “anti-terrorism” bill, supported by some evangelical Christian activists. The dialog resulted in deletion of a reference to Sharia law in the original version, but still left supporters hailing the measure as passed.
Witness this comment from the Eagle Forum’s Bobbie Patray, perhaps the leading conservative Christian crusader of Legislatorland: “Once more we want to praise God for the multiple times that he intervened on behalf of this legislation and to express our deep appreciation of to Republican Senate Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron and House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny for their courage and tireless efforts to see this important legislation through to victory.”
* Czar With a Gavel Award: Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, who chaired the House State and Local Government Committee with aplomb and, sometimes, abruptness and sharp commentary. He was even-handed, slamming down the gavel and dismissing discourses by aggressive freshman Republicans and argumentative Democrats with equal fervor. “An equal opportunity offender,” says one staffer.
* Bystander of the Year: Gov. Bill Haslam. Contrary to his predecessors of decades past, the new governor pointedly declared at the outset that he had a limited agenda in legislation, then proceeded to prove his honesty and foresight. Indeed, if one views the Legislature as a Republican railroad, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey may be seen as the engineer, House Speaker Beth Harwell as the brakeman (or brakewoman?) and Haslam as a fellow sitting in the dining car commenting on the passing scenery.
It appears he will sign every bill legislators send to him, even if with some misgivings as indicated in comments last week on legislation (SB923) that shaves two days off the early voting period in next year’s presidential primary: “My personal feeling is that a little longer early voting periods are good because it does give citizens that flexibility.” In other words, he would have preferred longer – not shorter – early voting periods. But he signed the bill last week.
* Norma Rae Memorial Award: To House Republican Caucus Chairman Debra Maggart. For 1979’s “Norma Rae,” Sally Field won Best Actress honors at the Oscars for her portrayal of a union organizer. Maggart performed well in 2011 as a leading union disorganizer, most notably as sponsor of legislation to abolish collective bargaining for teachers. A sample line from Maggart’s performance: “For too long under the old order, selfish political interests, the unions, have been allowed to dominate the discussion when it comes to setting the course of education in our state.”
* Controversy King: He had a lot of competition in his freshman year as a senator, but Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, is still the champion of gaining national attention for service on conservatism’s cutting edge. Need we say more than “don’t say gay?” If so, maybe “guns on campus.” Or “nullification committee,” the panel envisioned by the senator to study all federal laws and regulations, then recommend which ones should be nullified by the state Legislature.
* Don’t Get Mad, Get Even Award: Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, for moving to throw three people off the state Board of Regents because they didn’t attend a meeting of her committee when requested. She graciously consented to leave two of them on the board and withdrew the ouster resolution after they publicly apologized in writing and the other agreed to step down.
* Against the Wind Award: To the Republicans voting no on the teacher collective bargaining bill, namely Reps. Scotty Campbell of Mountain City, Jim Coley of Bartlett, Michael Harrison of Rogersville, David Hawk of Greeneville, Dennis Roach of Rutledge and Curry Todd of Collierville, plus Sen. Doug Overbey of Maryville. And the Democrat voting yes, Rep. G.A. Hardaway of Memphis.