John McCaslin

What are third-party candidates to do when the country's two major political parties exclude them from crucial upcoming presidential debates?

Piggyback on the hype and hoopla surrounding the Democrats' and Republicans' respective national conventions, that's what.

Independent Ralph Nader and Green Party nominee former Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, Georgia Democrat, will not only be in Denver during next week's Democratic National Convention, the third-party presidential candidates will stage an "Open the Debates" rally at Magness Arena on Wednesday evening. Numerous Hollywood celebrities are already signing up to attend, including Val Kilmer and Sean Penn.

"I met with Sean Penn, and we talked at length," Mr. Nader said. "He was very clear that he is not currently planning to endorse any candidate in the general election, but that he has serious concerns about the state of presidential debates. He did support [Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis J.] Kucinich in the primaries and saw how Dennis was excluded from MSNBC debates." Mr. Nader hopes to be on the ballot in 45 states come Nov. 4, which compares with 34 states in 2004.

A second debate rally is planned for Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis on Sept. 4, during the week of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

STANDARD GUY

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is circulating the rather humorous, if not uneducated, response of former Colorado congressman-turned-U.S. Senate candidate Bob Shaffer when the Republican was asked during a recent debate: "Do you have solar panels at your house?"

"We have windows at our house," he replied.

PEST RACE

No, it's not Groundhog Day, it's Giant Hissing Madagascar Cockroach Day - when "hissers," as the pests are nicknamed, run a race to decide November's presidential election.

Today's exciting hissing cockroach contest coincides with the 61st annual New Jersey Pest Management Association Clinic and features Barack Obama Roach vs. John McCain Roach. Apart from the unique race, the annual gathering of the nation's top pest-management experts introduces the latest technologies to control rodents and other pests.

Giant hissing Madagascar cockroaches, it so happens, are often kept as pets because of their size, long lifespan and ability to hiss.

BEYOND POLITICS

That's former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a lifelong Democrat, signing up as "Chairman of Democrats for Pete King." Mr. King, a Republican, is campaigning for a ninth term in the House.


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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