Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 1, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

NO, I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP....From the Wall Street Journal:

In a nation in which 66% of the voting-age population is overweight and 32% is obese, could Sen. Obama's skinniness be a liability? Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them.

The entire story continues in this vein for 1,400 words. Seriously.

Kevin Drum 1:31 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (79)

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Comments

Funny, when Geo W. Bush was skinny, it showed how fit he was and how much people wanted to have a beer with him.

On the other hand, McCain's befuddlement and grumpiness shows that he's just like the familiar ancient clueless fart around the corner! Yay, Republicans!

Can we push our media out on an iceberg now?

Posted by: riffle on August 1, 2008 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

[after slicing one of the Black Knight's arms off]
King Arthur: Now stand aside, worthy adversary.
Black Knight: 'Tis but a scratch.
King Arthur: A scratch? Your arm's off.
Black Knight: No it isn't.
King Arthur: What's that, then?
Black Knight: [after a pause] I've had worse.
King Arthur: You liar.
Black Knight: Come on ya pansy.

The Black Knight: Have at you!
King Arthur: You're indeed brave sir knight, but the fight is mine.
The Black Knight: Oh, had enough, aye?
King Arthur: Look you stupid bastard, you've got no arms left.
The Black Knight: Yes I have.
King Arthur: Look!
The Black Knight: Just a flesh wound.

The Black Knight: Right, I'll do you for that.
King Arthur: You'll what?
The Black Knight: Come here.
King Arthur: What are you gonna do, bleed on me?
The Black Knight: I'm invincible!
King Arthur: You're a loony.

[King Arthur has just cut the Black Knight's last leg off]
Black Knight: Okay, we'll call it a draw.
King Arthur: [Preparing to leave] Come, Patsy.
[King Arthur and Patsy ride off]
Black Knight: [calling after King Arthur] Oh! Had enough, eh? Come back and take what's coming to you, you yellow bastards! Come back here and take what's coming to you! I'll bite your legs off!

Posted by: Thin White Guy on August 1, 2008 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

They said he goes to waffle houses? Shit, tomorrow's blogosphere is going to be talking about that. What a bunch of racist fucks over there at the WSJ.

Posted by: jerry on August 1, 2008 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

If, by magic, the staff, alumni, and students of all the MFA creative writing programs of America, and all the staff, alumni, and students of all the J-schools in America, were to be swapped for each other, either we'd not notice the difference, or notice an improvement in political coverage.

And American literature would just about sputter and die.

On the tombstone of the Republic will be the epitaph 'Killed By A Story Arc'

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on August 1, 2008 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

They'll talk about anything except IRAQ or the ECONOMY!

Sheesh.

Reporters are the laziest scum on Earth.

Posted by: Chris on August 1, 2008 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

Its not the reporter's fault if the editor says "Do NOT under ANY CIRCUMSTANCE talk about Iraq or the economy or you'll have to find work elsewhere."

Posted by: Thin White Guy on August 1, 2008 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

"might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them."

Asking whether Obama is truly like some Americans - these simple farmers, these people of the land, the common clay of the new West - is all the WSJ can do from jumping up and down and shouting: "The candidate's a ni...!. The candidate's a ni...!"

Posted by: Ruprecht Murdoch on August 1, 2008 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

It's like the media is searching for every way they can say to the voter that Obama is not like you.

You're white? He's black.

You're fat? He's skinny.

You wouldn't refuse a coffee you were offered at a diner? He would.

You don't shoot pool? He does.

Posted by: Swan on August 1, 2008 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

They mean to suggest to their simple-minded readership that Obama is a tall, elegant, EFFETE guy who reads, thinks, etc., and is therefore "dangerous" as opposed to his "benign" opponent, who drools, farts, zones out.

It's not new. Think Kerry.

hancock

Posted by: hancock on August 1, 2008 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

If the Murricans really wanted a president who's just like them, they'd be voting for Cartman. Wait, they already did that. Twice.

Posted by: ogmb on August 1, 2008 at 3:25 AM | PERMALINK

But the readers of the WSJ are the fat white guys who don't have time to vote - the problem with Rove et al is they keep thinking the country is mostly people just like them. And I'm sure from the back of the limo that's all they see. As Rove found out in 2006 the numbers he sees are not those of the majority anymore.

Posted by: ptm on August 1, 2008 at 3:34 AM | PERMALINK

The Onion got there first:

http://www.theonion.com/content/video/as_obese_population_rises_more

Posted by: Andrew Levine on August 1, 2008 at 4:10 AM | PERMALINK

OK - how come Bill Richardson isn't the candidate, then?

The WSJ is reaching for Pythonesque logic, and we're months away from Election Day!

Posted by: SteinL on August 1, 2008 at 4:17 AM | PERMALINK

It used to be that a pol could earn his quasi-populist, Reg'lar Folks bona fides simply by dropping his "g"s when he talked, feigning an interest in big-league sports, and exuding a Hallelujah, Jesus type of evangelical religiosity. No longer.

Even as we speak, some enterprising young folks are donning fat suits and perfecting their Wal-Mart waddle.

Posted by: Chet on August 1, 2008 at 4:46 AM | PERMALINK

Obama, if fit, is unelectable? Clearly he needs to enlist Gore as a running mate, since the usual objection to the inconvenient truth is that Gore is fat.

A useless article over all, but how can I object when the last word is given to someone from Laguna Beach?

Posted by: bad Jim on August 1, 2008 at 5:45 AM | PERMALINK

Well, the reason he doesn't seem like other Americans in shape is because by ancestry he's not like 99.9% of Americans: he's 50% Luo. His father's tribe are Nilotics. Physical anthropologists refer to Nilotics as "elongated" because, when in good shape, they tend to be thinner than anybody else on earth. Nilotics include the Kenyan runners (typically Kalenjin) you'll see at the Olympics in a couple of weeks, as well as the basketball players Manute Bol and Luol Deng (Dinka).

Heck, Nilotic Luos aren't even like a lot of people in Kenya. Obama himself wrote in "Dreams From My Father" about the obvious differences he saw in Nairobi between "tall, ink-black Luos and short, brown Kikuyus."

Posted by: Steve Sailer on August 1, 2008 at 6:22 AM | PERMALINK

God, this article is so sad, it just exemplifies how fucked up we have become as a country - that a person's morphology is more important than their position on important issues. The WSJ should be ashamed of themselves, but modern conservatives seem to have lost the ability to feel shame...

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 1, 2008 at 6:53 AM | PERMALINK

I liked this part especially: "[Obama] snacks on MET-Rx chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and drinks Black Forest Berry Honest Tea, a healthy organic brew. (Sen. McCain is said to have a weakness for Butterfinger candy bars, jelly beans, and coffee and doughnuts from Dunkin' Donuts.)"

What better way to prove someone is an effete elitist than by listing their snacking preferences, straight from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and comparing them with the down-to-earth, regular American choices of his opponent? Goes all the way back to Reagan and jelly beans, and the first Bush and pork rinds.
____________________________________________

Posted by: Aris on August 1, 2008 at 7:12 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, you got to look as "rancid" as John McCain to fit in with the rest of un-celebity American.

Just another way they try to take the discourse off the noticable age difference of the elder, spittle down the jaw, death warmed over, look out for that wrinkled old hand, John McCain.

Posted by: Me_again on August 1, 2008 at 7:18 AM | PERMALINK

And yet, remarkably, the most popular CELEBRITIES are all skinny -- Angelina Jolie is positively skeletal when she's not having babies. Now that's a crime -- having babies and still going back to being skeletal. The nerve of some people.

Well, anyway, is John McCain overweight? And what about his wife, who apparently made a big point of the fact that she wears size two jeans during her Vogue Magazine shoot (or maybe it was size zero). Do you wear size two jeans? Me neither. No way in hell I can vote for someone with a wife who wears size two jeans. Michelle Obama must be at least a size 8 or 10. Yeah, I'll vote for her husband.

Just more seriously, didn't it occur to anyone at the WSJ that Americans will vote for the skinny guy BECAUSE they are obese, not in spite.

I would ask for someone to shoot me right now but I do have young children.

Posted by: Barbara on August 1, 2008 at 7:28 AM | PERMALINK

Most Americans are women.

Posted by: reason on August 1, 2008 at 7:59 AM | PERMALINK

I am a person on some substance but I can forgive BHO for his skinniness since he cannot help his Luo genes.

I do not blame Cindy McCain for being skinny; she is so rich that she is probably able to buy skinniness.

Michelle, however, is a completely different matter.

Posted by: Bostonian in Brooklyn on August 1, 2008 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

That article decided it for me--I'm not voting. I weigh 230, and the only politicians fatter than me, like Dennis Hastert, Newt Gingrich and Al Gore, aren't running.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on August 1, 2008 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

And yet I'm going to take my well-rounded ba donka donk over to the polling place in November and vote for the skinny guy.

Posted by: Jersey Tomato on August 1, 2008 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Reality truly has just completely outpaced satire as far as sheer WTFness....

Posted by: Kryptik on August 1, 2008 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Does anybody remember that old cosmetics commercial where some French model or actress says "Dun het me becuss I'm bootiful?"

Really... The fat guy underpants that I buy at Target for myself still have a picture of an Adonis on the package. The crew socks have a picture of an NBA star.

If there were a package of fat guy underwear with me on it next to the one with the hot, packed, chiseled specimen of a man, I'm pretty sure the ones with me, Mr. Potato, would still be sitting there long after the fat guy underwear with the skinny guy on the package sold out.

In politics as in the underwear aisle, people go for what they aspire to be. Just look at the studies that have shown that in any political race the taller candidate tends to win. People vote for the traits they want, not the traits they have themselves.

Posted by: Michael Ditto on August 1, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

>"the problem with Rove et al is they keep thinking the country is mostly people just like them."

Based on recent events, Rove et al may be correct.
A McCain victory in November means it's really time to leave.

Posted by: Buford on August 1, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Not enough information WSJ. I need to know which one is better hung before I can cast my vote.

Posted by: e henry thripshaw on August 1, 2008 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Can we push our media out on an iceberg now?

I was thinking more of packing them all onto the Titanic.

Posted by: ckelly on August 1, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

The WSJ's desperation is palpable. "Look, he's skiiiiinnnny!" I love it! (h/t, fat white fuck)

Gosh, that McCain sure is short, grumpy, and with an Alzheimer's-addled brain....let's vote for him.

I'm not sure which is the bigger joke, the WSJ or the Onion parody video linked above.

Posted by: ckelly on August 1, 2008 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Well he doesn't look like George Washington. (Never realized George was so short) But does look a bit like Abe Lincoln. His hands could be a problem for him. They are long, slender and weak looking. Mike Graebel has said that he has a weak fishy hand shake.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on August 1, 2008 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Money, education and fitness *are* all strongly correlated in the US.

Posted by: flubber on August 1, 2008 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

ZOMG! Gerald Ford lost the '76 election because he'd never seen a tamale before! We won't let that happen again - instead we'll mock the skinny guy! I'll never vote for a beanpole guy! I am a WSJ writer! I, like, suck! (On my caramel nonfat latte!) Paris Hilton! Britney Spears!

BTW, has John McCain's voice always sounded like Ronald Reagan's, or is that a new affectation?

Posted by: rabbit on August 1, 2008 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Stuff just like this got Bush close enough to steal the 2000 and 2004 elections. Why in the world should anyone expect anything different this time?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on August 1, 2008 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

rupert doing what rupert always does...

Posted by: linda on August 1, 2008 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Obama Voter Checklist
---------------------
1) Domestic policies in-line: PASS
2) International policies in-line: PASS
3) No chicken-wing stains on jacket: FAIL

/pulls lever for McCain

Posted by: rusrus on August 1, 2008 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

The WSJ is right. That's why I'm voting for this guy.

Posted by: ckelly on August 1, 2008 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Skinnyness is such a liablity... ask any movie star, fashion model, music star, or TV personality.

Posted by: sdh on August 1, 2008 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

In related news: "Drugs Let Couch-Potato Mice Add Exercise Benefit Without Moving"

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aHPYZq3foWkQ&refer=us

If they create new drugs for hand-eye coordination and the ability to keep time with music, Obama will be in the clear come 2012.

Posted by: B on August 1, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Yes.
I want someone for President who is as dumb as me, as fat as me and as incurious as me. And someone who puts on a mean barbeque.

Posted by: wasab1 on August 1, 2008 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Not enough information WSJ. I need to know which one is better hung before I can cast my vote.

I don't want to be peddling in stereotypes, but come on. I think we can deduce this from the information we already know.

Posted by: drjimcooper on August 1, 2008 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Dayum, they sound desperate to get something to stick....

Posted by: Jet on August 1, 2008 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

TruthPolitik: Mike Graebel has said that [Obama]has a weak fishy hand shake.

Some people shake hands gently because the person they're shaking with might have painful, arthritic joints. It's hard to believe that a guy who played varsity basketball has weak hands.

Posted by: cowalker on August 1, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Try as we might, we'll never return to the golden age of Presidential obesity, the decades before WWI: Cleveland, Roosevelt, Taft... those guys were fat.

Posted by: lampwick on August 1, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, those visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners reassure me that he shares my values and enables me to celebrate the diversity of our waist measurements.

Posted by: Jim Strain on August 1, 2008 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

OH, I feel so much better about my reluctance to jump on the Obama bandwagon...as a BIG (if not beautiful) woman it must be my envy of skinny!!! Hillary had that old pear shape that many of us could relate to...so that MUST BE IT!!! He needs to fatten up! Makes just about as much sense as anything else that is coming out from our media today. Just received a copy of the latest OBAMA smear e-mail (easily debunked by truthorfiction or Snopes) from a friend my husband IMs with...YEGODS, I can just imagine the idiots out there lapping it up!!!

Posted by: Dancer on August 1, 2008 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

The other two pieces on the cover page of the WSJ: "Wal Mart warns of Democratic win" and picture of McCain with misleading caption "Obama uses race card" Christ.

Posted by: Buzz on August 1, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

The American electorate by and large does not have even the weakest grasp of any of the issues facing the country. If this wasn't true, Shrub never would have been elected, we would not be in Iraq and the economy would be in better shape. So saying the mostly fat American might resent a fit Obama (who is, don't forget, partially a negro!) is not at all far-fetched.

All you have to do is listen to "man and/or woman in the street" interviews, and you still hear undecided voters who can't put a meaningful sentence together explaining why they aren't enthusiastic Obama supporters after nearly 8 years of complete Republican mismanagement and malfeasances.

We get, unfortunately, the government we deserve.

Posted by: Jeff II on August 1, 2008 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Madison Ave. types have been reducing the weight of models for decades in their advertisements aimed at fat, sclerotic Americans. Advertisers know fat, sclerotic Americans want to be thin like Sen. Obama, so they use ultra-thin models to sell them sugary, high fat foods.

Posted by: Brojo on August 1, 2008 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

This story makes me wonder if, just like the CIA has allegedly infiltrated the media with operatives, the radical left-wing conspiracy has infiltrated right-wing-owned media.

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on August 1, 2008 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Obviously only elitist liberals are skinny. Just look at this map.

Posted by: Nils on August 1, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Try as we might, we'll never return to the golden age of Presidential obesity, the decades before WWI: Cleveland, Roosevelt, Taft... those guys were fat.
Posted by: lampwick

Yes. The good ol' days. Only the rich could afford to be fat and the poor were a skinny.

Posted by: Jeff II on August 1, 2008 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Ahhh, relax everyone......just relax and enjoy it.

Posted by: Joe on August 1, 2008 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

If people are reluctant to vote for a skinny candidate then this is just more rationale for why we should nominate INKBLOT for PRESIDENT.

Posted by: optical weenie on August 1, 2008 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

What is the deal with the WSJ these days? Oh, wait, actually that was a rhetorical question.

Last Friday's hilariously stoopid George-Bush-Is-Just-Like-Batman piece was fabulous but today's Obama's-Not-Like-Regular-Americans-Because-He's-Too-Skinny piece is even better.

Why read The Onion when you can just read the WSJ?

Loved the comment that if Murricans wanted to vote for somebody just like them they'd vote for Cartman. Too true.

Posted by: Catcher on August 1, 2008 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

All that bitching about Obama's popularity, his youth, his thinness - the politics of envy!

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ ♪ ♪ on August 1, 2008 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

You wear a cap? He doesn't.

You're blond? He has dark hair.

You like soccer? He likes basketball.

You're a doctor? He's a lawyer.

You're not from Chicago? He is.

Posted by: Swan on August 1, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Weenie,
That's kinda flip-floppy there, considering how hard you've tried to convince us that Inkblot really isn't actually fat. Don't ya think?

Posted by: thersites on August 1, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't the theory used to be that poor people voted for rich republicans who promised to eliminated taxes for the wealthy because poor people hope to become rich somebody and when they do they don't want to pay taxes?

Similarly, mightn't Obama attract the votes of us non-svelte types because we hope someday to be buff like Barack?

Posted by: Yellow Dog on August 1, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

First, Milbanks' snarky "presumptuous" WaPo screed, now this. McCain's not alone in his desperation to dis Obama.

Posted by: allbetsareoff on August 1, 2008 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

No More Mister Nice Blog has the scoop on this: the one quote the author uses was in response to a message she posted fishing for something like that:

Does anyone out there think Barack Obama is too thin to be president? Anyone having a hard time relating to him and his "no excess body fat"? Please let me know. Thanks.
And more people thought the question was idiotic than agreed with the premise.

Posted by: Tom Hilton on August 1, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and Steve M also points out that she lifted wording directly from a McCain press release.

Posted by: Tom Hilton on August 1, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

All this criticism, and apparently no one clicked the link to see the definitive evidence that being thin will hurt him:

"He's too new ... and he needs to put some meat on his bones," says Diana Koenig, 42, a housewife in Corpus Christi, Texas, who says she voted for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

"I won't vote for any beanpole guy," another Clinton supporter wrote last week on a Yahoo politics message board.

You see, two Clinton supporters, including one from the important "anonymous Yahoo message board poster" demographic, don't like him because he's thin, not because they're bitter or anything irrational like that. That's why he's going to lose. We should have gone with Clinton, because no one would ever suggest her appearance has any bearing on whether people would vote for her.

Posted by: ibid on August 1, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

TruthPolitik, I think you're looking at the picture of James Madison and thinking it's George Washington. Madison was very short and slight, Washington very tall.

Posted by: Observer on August 1, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on August 1, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

You know there was another tall skinny president from Illinois. He was relatively young and had big ears, too. As I recall he turned out ok.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 1, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers: As I recall he turned out ok.
You're right Ron.

But there are still people that would disagree with your assessment.

Posted by: thersites on August 1, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

You know there was another tall skinny president from Illinois. He was relatively young and had big ears, too. As I recall he turned out ok.

Not only that but he had less political experience than Obama.

Posted by: lou on August 1, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

earlier I said:
You're right Ron.
But there are still people that would disagree with your assessment.

But it should also be noted that those people are not likely Obama voters anyway.

Posted by: thersites on August 1, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

You know there was another tall skinny president from Illinois. He was relatively young and had big ears, too. As I recall he turned out ok.

Pretty much, with one vital distinction: I'm counting on this one to restore Habeas Corpus.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on August 1, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Observer --- TruthPolitik, I think you're looking at the picture of James Madison and thinking it's George Washington. Madison was very short and slight, Washington very tall."

Oops you're right. All those old dead guys in wigs look a lot alike to me.

Obama 08 Oh No.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on August 1, 2008 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

This reminds me of an old, hilarious Atlantic article. Lemme see...

Ah yes. Enjoy.

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/196210/fitness

APS

Posted by: Ape Man on August 1, 2008 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

At least they didn't say "chicken-and-waffle houses"

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on August 1, 2008 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Late, but it appears the reporter in question created a Yahoo! Message Board for the sole purpose of generating quotes for her story. Most of the replies flamed/laughed at her, somehow she didn't see fit to include those viewpoints.

Posted by: kth on August 2, 2008 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

So looks like the Yahoo message board commenter she quoted as refusing to "vote for any beanpole guy" was not just any old message board commenter? Does the reporter somehow, uh, fail to mention the fact that she STARTED the damn message board? Perhaps we might even find some of the reporter's own sock puppets there? The Wall Street Journal, beacon of responsible journalism.

Posted by: rabbit on August 2, 2008 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

OK, not a sockpuppet. All the replies flame her except the one from which she selectively quoted:


Yes I think He is to skinny to be President.Hillary has a potbelly and chuckybutt I’d of Voted for Her.I won’t vote for any beanpole guy.


That sound you hear might be a job opening at the WSJ...

Then again, maybe not.

Posted by: rabbit on August 2, 2008 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

So as a public servant receiving taxpayer funded healthcare - it's a bad thing that Obama practices a healthy lifestyle and will not be costing us millions of dollars in gold plated healthcare.

And on the plus side - according to the WSJ - Cheney and McCain are entitled to all the care they can consume regardless of lifestyle, pre-existing conditions, whatever.

Yeah - I want more conservative government - really can't get enough

Posted by: bcinaz on August 2, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

jerry wrote:
"What a bunch of racist fucks over there at the WSJ."

You mean "partisan fucks." Is everything always about race? Stupid liberal. (note that I have a good deal of contempt for conservatives, but that doesn't mean I am blind to liberal stupidity.)

Posted by: Grupetti on August 3, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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