How much would you pay to spend the night with Helen Thomas? If you’re like us – borderline necrophiliac – the answer is $50, which is exactly how much you’ll have to shell out to see the not-dead-yet queen of the White House press corps when she comes to the Orlando Public Library Sept. 21. (You get a $10 discount with your library card. See, kids, it pays to read!)

According to the press release, Thomas will “share anecdotes from her career with the White House press corps, which began in 1961,” which was way before we were even born. We’re pretty sure that was, like, the Coolidge administration or something.

She’s been there through JFK’s assassination, Vietnam, Watergate, the Iran hostage crisis, Ronald Reagan’s senility, Bush Sr.’s thousand points of light, Bill Clinton’s cigar and Bush Jr.’s insanity, so we’d imagine she has some stories to tell. Plus, her tenacity – and the fact that she’s been around forever, which means the White House spinmeisters have to pay attention to her even though they’d rather ship her off to the Gitmo Nursing Home – makes her just about the only reason to watch White House press conferences anymore.

As she told Salon in June: “`T`hen they put me in the back row, which didn’t matter. What matters is the question. You get one chance at the barrel with the president. You should not let it slide. I mean, they are public servants, presidents are. We pay them. And they should be accountable. `Other reporters` are nice to me, but I’m not trying to please my peers. I’m trying to get the information that the American people have to know. They have a right to know everything that affects their lives and that is done in their name.”

Preach it, sister. We kinda wish she was preaching it for a little less dough, but whatever.

This week, because we’re
friends with a certain Log Cabin Republican (oooh, Mrs. Howell), we were able to hop on a chain-mail gang attempting to get the Russell Home – a haven for “atypical children” in south Orlando – onto ABC’s Sunday night weepfest, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

The 50-year-old home has been under duress at least since the passing of founder Mrs. Vantrease “Grandma” Russell in 2003, and it could use a big-style makeover of the “move … that … bus!” variety. They have no government funding and apparently have an extended family of more than 20. Traditionally the show requires (or at least smiles upon) a ridiculous amount of signatures on a petition, so some locals are attempting to clear that hurdle via a guilting e-mail trail. We’re all for it, especially because Ty Pennington reportedly drinks as much as he helps as much as he doesn’t wear a shirt. Hot!

With the release of their 2007 Legislative Scorecard, the Christian Coalition of Florida has brought moral relativism to a whole new level.

Citing faith, tradition and values as the mileposts – which translates to right-wing stances on stem cells, gambling, God and abortion – the Coalition gave Republican House member Blow Job Bob™ Allen an impressive score of 84.6 out of 100, enough to secure him a “B.” Cruising toilets for gay sex? Cool. Using stem cells to cure cancer? God hates you.

Similarly, Lee Constantine gets high grades on the Senate side (90.9 – that’s an A!), because Lord knows Jesus likes the drink.

Meanwhile, House member Scott Randolph, a damn Democrat, earned himself an embarrassing – or maybe gratifying – score of 15.4. Guess he needs to cheat on his wife with undercover (male) cops if he ever hopes to improve that standing.

On Sept. 17, the Iraqi government announced that it was kicking some American soldiers of fortune out of their country after the mercenaries allegedly shot at and killed eight civilians and wounded 13 others. The Iraqi government may press charges.

The mercenaries, employed by the U.S. to protect diplomats, have been accused of “indiscriminately firing at American and Iraqi troops, and of shooting to death an unknown number of Iraqi citizens who got too close to their heavily armed convoys, but none has faced charges or prosecution,” according to the Associated Press.

Nice. Anyway, there is one thing you should know, which the Orlando Sentinel forgot to mention in its retread of the AP story: The firm at the heart of this latest scandal, Blackwater USA, which has about 1,000 contractors in Iraq and has taken in about $800 million in government contracts, thanks to President Bush’s endless wars, is tied to Rich DeVos, of our very own soon-to-be-built-with-your-taxes Rich DeVos’ Golden Pleasure Dome™!

See, the ex-Navy SEAL who has made a killing by collecting your tax dollars to fund his private army is Erik Prince, whose sister is married to DeVos’ son, Dick. The DeVoses are all well-connected Republicans, but we’re sure that’s it’s a complete coincidence that Blackwater is the recipient of a bunch of no-bid contracts.

DeVos, meanwhile, is about to use some $400 million of your tax dollars to enrich himself and his pathetic basketball team. Just thought you’d like to know whom you’re subsidizing.

This week’s report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes and Bob Whitby.

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