Yes, it's time once again for Happytown's™ endorsements!

District 3: Until last week, we were all set to back Robert Stuart over Vicki Vargo. It was an easy choice. Or so we thought.

Luckily, we discovered that Stuart is unfit for public office just in time. What changed our minds? A transgression so heinous, so calculating, so disrespectful of law and order that it pains us to speak of it. But we're journalists, so speak of it we must. Please, if you are sensitive, we beg you to read no further.

On March 8, and again on March 29, Stuart sent out a campaign e-mail from his home computer that routed through his work e-mail address! Stuart works at the Christian Service Center, a nonprofit that "helps" the poor and homeless in Parramore. Nonprofits aren't allowed to support candidates.

A few moments after the March 29 e-mail went out, Stuart wrote another, claiming this whole frightening, lawless campaign was an "accident." He said it wouldn't happen again.

Too late, Robert! The damage is done! Those e-mails went out under the rubric of a nonprofit. And as Vicki Vargo points out in her avenging website, www.recklessrobertstuart.com, Stuart might as well have taken food from the mouths of the hungry!

Here we were thinking Stuart's decade of work at a Parramore nonprofit spoke of compassion. But now we see that even that was nothing but a political ploy. He was biding his time, waiting for an opportunity to exploit the goodwill of the Christian Service Center for personal gain. He's as patient as he is shrewd. As Vargo notes in her virtuous rebuttal, "Robert Stuart broke the rules, and now others may have to suffer. Given the plight of those around him, it ranks at the top as one of the most selfish acts of any politician in recent history." Tom DeLay. Randall "Duke" Cunningham. And now Robert Stuart.

Yes, there are those who view Vargo's website as the desperate act of a doomed politician. But the righteous have always suffered detractors. The truth shall prevail, and we know the truth: two e-mails were questionably distributed! Not one, TWO. Try and deny it, Robert Stuart!

District 5: The winner of this race will fill in for Ernest Page until he gets his legal problems – felony bribery charges – squared away. If he's convicted, there's yet another special election. If he's vindicated, he comes back and Tuesday's victor leaves.

Go ahead and vote for Mabel Butler. If nothing else, Butler will liven up otherwise dull City Council meetings. She's also the best choice, given her decades on the Orlando City Council and the Orange County commission. One of her opponents – Sam Ings – thinks he's on a mission from God, and another – Lawanna Gelzer – has lost more races in the last eight years than we care to count. The rest don't have a chance. Go, Mabel!

And all this time you thought U.S. Senator Bill Nelson was spending his days on his knees thanking the good Lord above for sending him Katherine Harris as an opponent. Wrongo! Nelson's probably not given Ol' Runny Face a second thought lately; he's way too busy going mano-a-mano with the terrorists!

In a fax dispatch that reached Happytown™ HQ late last week, Nelson boasted of leading a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers that "crippled" Al-Manar TV, a Lebanese-owned broadcaster Nelson says is a mouthpiece for Hezbollah. "Al-Manar broadcasts poisonous propaganda for Hezbollah, a Lebanese-based and Iranian-backed terrorist group. That makes the station just as culpable as the terrorists themselves," Nelson huffed in his press release.

That's not quite the way Al Manar describes itself on its own website, naturally: "`Al-Manar` focuses on highlighting the value of the human being as the center of the Godly messages which endeavor to save his dignity and freedom and develop the spiritual and moral dimensions of his personality."

Now it's rash to go judging a TV station by its website, but Bright House doesn't carry Al-Manar, so the web is all we've got. Most of the stories listed there are run-of-the-mill political stuff, with an Arab slant. Of note: The station has categories for sports and entertainment, arts, environment, health and culture stories, and there's nothing filed in any of them!

The idea is to cut off funding for the station by getting it labeled as a terrorist organization. Inquiring minds want to know: Would the strategy work against Fox News?

Melville House Publishing's Feb. 28 release, Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush, is nothing special; at least two other books have already laid out the case for bouncing Bush. What is noteworthy is a shipping option on the publishing house's website that allows buyers to send a copy directly to their representative's Washington office.
More than 2,000 books have been sent to members of the House of Representatives, says Melville rep Dennis Johnson, including 11 from Central Floridians. Reps. Tom Feeney, John Mica and Ginny Brown-Waite have each received a copy from their constituents. Rep. Corrine Brown got two, and beleaguered Rep. Katherine Harris has a collection of six at last count.

The New York Times hates us. First they publish a March 26 story called "Orlando for adults" that portrays our fair city as a place so dull that a stop at the Dong-A Market constitutes a highlight (no offense intended!). Then a few days later (March 31), they run an AP wire story about a bird shit-covered street near Lake Eola. Will O-Town henceforth be known to the rest of the country as the home of the "poopstorm" (one word)? It ain't New York; we get it.

Department of confessions: There's sneaky stuff going on in UCF's Digital Media program, and we're involved.

As part of the Interactive Performance Lab (iPlay), UCF professor Jeff Wirth just completed NextArt: The Voice, the second installment of his spontaneous theater/alternative reality gaming project (see nextart.floridafilmfestival.com). The performance places an unknowing-but-willing non-actor into a scripted story that takes place in real time. Our part was to publish a column on our website about the March 26 dachshund races at Downey Park, written by Anne Hames, the non-actor and star of the show. The event was real, the story was factual and no dachshunds were harmed, that we know of.

This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman, James Carlson, Lindy T. Shepherd and Bob Whitby

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