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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Trump Legal News: Kodachrome
      •  The Day After the Debate: Say Say Say
      •  A Fool and Their Money?, Part I: Fields of Gold
      •  A Fool and Their Money?, Part II: Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang
      •  This Week in Schadenfreude: Dirty Laundry
      •  This Week in Freudenfreude: Edge of Seventeen

We've gotten lots and lots of responses doing the "songs with a theme" the last two Fridays. And it amuses us by giving us a slightly different kind of challenge. So, why not keep it going? This week's theme is a little harder to discern; that will reduce the advantage that early readers have. All six of the songs are "hits" in the sense that they made the Billboard charts, but that's not the commonality we're looking for. If you have a guess, send it in.

Also, a programming note about the bingo cards. Several readers wrote in to point out that Mike Pence talked about working with Vicente Fox. That means that the former VP said "Fox," albeit not with the meaning we intended. So, we didn't count it, though perhaps we should have. If we did count it, then Card 2 bingoed first. R.C. in Northampton, MA had Card 2, and the exact correct length for the debate (121 minutes). Following on R.C.'s heels were C.P. in Silver Spring, MD (2 minutes off); R.D. in Gaithersburg, MD (4 minutes off); D.R. in Strokestown, Ireland (5 minutes off); and M.F. in Norwood, MA (7 minutes off).

Trump Legal News: Kodachrome

Sorry, readers, you just can't escape Donald Trump's legal troubles. Of course, neither can he.

We presume that things will soon slow down, and we won't have ten things to talk about. But today is not that day. Here is a rundown of the big developments on Thursday:

  1. Kodachrome: Ok, they don't actually make Kodachrome anymore, but it's what they used to use for mug shots (because of the precision of the image the film produced), and mug shots were the big story of the day. Donald Trump surrendered in Fulton County, GA, yesterday, and had a mug shot taken. That is a first for him (the previous three indictments were sans mug shot), and a first for any president of the United States. You're going to see it a lot, but if you haven't thus far, well, here it is:

    Trump without the combover, and in an orange jumpsuit

    Oops, wait. That's actually his NEXT mug shot. Our mistake. Here's the one from yesterday:

    Trump hunches forward, looks up at the camera

    Does Trump have body language consultants to warn him what to do, and what not to do? Or does he just go on instinct? We do not know, but we do know that he ended up choosing a posture that suggests "psychopath." It's an old acting trick, used to great effect by, among others, Heath Ledger in his Oscar-winning role as the Joker:

    Three shots of Ledger, as the Joker, using the same posture

    We're not the only ones to notice it. The director Stanley Kubrick was a particular fan of this body language shortcut, and reader M.B. in San Antonio, TX gave us the heads up that this meme is circulating on social media:

    Trump's mug shot, next to three screen captures from Kubrick films, each with a character using the 'Kubrick Stare'

    Note that Trump's posture cannot be attributed to the placement of the camera; of the other mug shots taken of his co-defendants, only Ray Smith has a similar posture (see below). Although John Eastman does have crazy eyes; we'll grant you that.

  2. Zen-ator: Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) was also struck by Trump's booking photo. He said: "I've seen President Trump with that look a couple times playing golf with him when he's missed a putt or I'm beating him in a round of golf." That has an almost Zen feel to us. Imagine if it was expressed in the form of a haiku:
    Donald Trump mug shot?
    Like a golf shot gone awry
    A world of struggle
  3. You Know My Name (Look Up the Number): Trump's prisoner number is P01135809. He's also listed as 6'3 and 215 pounds on his booking record. We do not know where the prison system gets that information, since it is clear that neither is particularly close to being true. Presumably, detainees are allowed to self-report their measurements. There was much commentary on social media on this point, like this tweet from NFL writer Scott Kacsmar:

    Trump compared to 
6'3, 218-pound wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald

    Some of the other tweets were considerably further below the belt.

  4. Kodachrome, Part II: Having failed to persuade a judge that he shouldn't have to surrender in Atlanta, Mark Meadows scurried down south and turned himself in before Trump did. Presumably, he was looking for news of his surrender to get drowned out by the coverage given to Trump's. In any case, including Trump, 12 of the 19 co-defendants have now been booked. Here are the other 11 mug shots:

    11 mug shots, including Meadows,
John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell

    If you want to read more analysis of facial expressions and posture, Slate's Christina Cauterucci has you covered.

    With 12 down, there are seven people left to surrender. They are: former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, Trump lawyer Robert Cheeley, Trump campaign adviser Michael Roman, fake elector Shawn Still, pastor and accused poll-worker intimidator Stephen Lee, publicist and accused poll-worker intimidator Trevian Kutti, and Coffee County plotter Misty Hampton. Today's the deadline for them to do so.

  5. It's Not You, It's Me?: Shortly before surrendering, Trump announced that he has replaced his lead counsel in Georgia. Drew Findling is out, Steven Sadow is in, and Jennifer Little will stay on as second chair. Sadow has experience defending RICO cases, so that is presumably why he was brought in. It's not clear if Findling will shift to one (or more) of Trump's myriad other legal entanglements.

  6. The Fingers Keep Pointing: In his first filing before the court, in advance of his surrender, fake elector Still asserted he was "acting at the direction of the incumbent president of the United States." Yet another sign that we're in "every person for themselves" territory, and that Trump is not going to be able to get others to take the bullet for him, as he has so many times in the past.

  7. The Chese Stands Alone: Chesebro wants a speedy trial, and filed a motion asking for one yesterday. Fulton County DA Fani Willis and her team are happy to comply, and have proposed a start date of October 23. It is very unlikely that the whole case, including all 19 defendants, can be ready to go in just a couple of months. It is at least possible, however, that Chesebro's case will be severed from the others, and that he will get the speedy trial he wants.

  8. Move, Countermove: Meadows has already made clear he's planning to use a "I was just doing my job" defense. In response, Willis just subpoenaed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. He's surely already talked to the grand jury, but this visit will be so he can comment specifically on Meadows' role in the conspiracy, and to share his (presumable) view that Meadows was going far beyond his legal authority.

  9. Error Jordan: Speaking of guys using their jobs as a shield, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) sent a blistering letter to Willis yesterday, questioning her motivations, warning her she's going to be investigated, and threatening to cut federal funding for her staff. The Representative is counting on his position to keep him safe from a charge of, say, obstruction of justice. How far can he push it before he ends up as co-defendant #20? We may find out.

  10. Mr. Martyr: Trump continues to play up the martyr bit for all it's worth, even when it doesn't make any sense. Looking to shake down his supporters for the umpteenth time, the former president sent them a "final note" yesterday, before heading, in his words, "to the notoriously violent jail in Fulton County, Georgia where I will be ARRESTED despite having committed NO CRIME." The overall impression given by the missive was that he might just be saying good-bye forever.

    It is true that jail is a tough one, and that an everyday accused felon could be in for a rough time there. It's also true that Trump was just there for a booking, that he was never close to the general population of the jail, and that he's most certainly not being treated like an everyday accused felon. Do his supporters not notice when he sends out a whole bunch more truths and fundraising e-mails just a few hours after his "final note"?

  11. All the Oxygen: Predictably, and presumably by design, Trump's surrender sucked up all the oxygen, and quickly pushed the debate off the front pages. We have an item about it (keep reading), but it won't be long until the Trump-free tilt is but a distant memory.

Who knows what next week will bring? The only thing we know for sure is that it never ends. (Z)

The Day After the Debate: Say Say Say

Wednesday's debate was the first one in a long time, and was the de facto national debut for at least half the people on that stage. So, people had a lot to say say say yesterday, both verbally and in print. Forgive us for using this organizing approach for a second time in as many items, but here's a list of 10 things we found most noteworthy:

  1. The Ratings Game: The ratings for the debate are in, and they are... just OK. It drew 12.8 million viewers, which is very good for a non-sports cable broadcast (by contrast, the hit show Yellowstone gets about 8 million viewers when new episodes are broadcast). However, the first GOP candidates' debate in 2016 drew 24 million viewers. And the first round of Democratic debates in 2020 (remember, the "first" debate was split into Debate 1A and Debate 1B, on consecutive days) drew 24.3 million viewers and 27.1 million viewers. What caused the decline? Undoubtedly some combination of: (1) cord-cutting, (2) the RNC making it not all that easy to watch, and (3) the absence of anyone on stage who has a serious chance to become president, or even to become a major-party nominee.

  2. What a Sh**show: In our write-up, we noted that the debate involved a lot of shouting, not a lot of substance, and a mediocre performance by the moderators. Perhaps we were too kind, as numerous commentators were considerably more critical. Pundit Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—who, we are given to understand, used to play basketball professionally—wrote an op-ed for The Daily Beast in which he called it a "sad spectacle." Jeffrey McCall, writing for The Hill, preferred "media spectacle." Brian Moylan, for Politico, compared it to the Real Housewives reality-TV franchise. He writes:
    Just like their outfits are all mostly the same, so are their policy points. Do they want a three-week abortion ban or a 15-week abortion ban? Are all of America's problems caused by the left in general or "Bidenomics" specifically? Do they hate China a lot or do they hate China a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot? The distinctions hardly matter and, just like Real Housewives who are referring to a text about a tweet that someone DMed the woman's makeup artist, the facts and figures of this lot can hardly be trusted. It's less about what they have to say and more about how they have to say it and how they're interacting with their castmates.
    We can't say we disagree.

  3. Abort... on Abortion?: Yesterday—that is to say, about 12 hours after the debate ended—RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel appeared on Fox News to say that she was happy that abortion came up at the debate, and that "We're not going to win" if Republicans don't talk about the issue in 2024. Maybe that is true. But perhaps, if she had watched the debate a little more closely, she might have noticed that Republican candidates don't know what to say. Mike Pence, who was once a hardliner on abortion (as in "no abortions, ever"), said repeatedly that a 15-week ban should be the cutoff, and a couple of other candidates nodded agreement. Nikki Haley said that was unrealistic. Ramaswamy wants a total ban. As the headline of an Ed Kilgore piece on the subject observes: "Debate Shows Republicans Are in Total Disarray on Abortion." The problem, which McDaniel certainly knows, even if she can't say it, is that there's no position that is both: (1) acceptable to the hard-right evangelicals who are key to Republicans' electoral hopes, and (2) acceptable to general electorate voters.

  4. We Candidates Three, Part I: Something like 95% of the discussion of specific candidates is being devoted to just three of the eight people who were on stage on Wednesday. The first of those is Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). There aren't too many people who think he had a bad debate, but there also aren't too many people who think he had a good debate, either. Phrases like "didn't hurt himself," "meh," "held serve," and "perfectly average" were the order of the day. That doesn't mean he didn't hurt himself, and he's come in for criticism on two fronts. The first is that he needed to regain his lost momentum, and by failing to seize the day, he may have squandered his last, slight chance of making a race of it. The second is that he showed himself, in a noticeable way, to be rather shifty. His pitch is that he's a strong leader, and that where he goes, others follow. But he consistently dodged questions, as we noted briefly, and as Slate's Jim Newell and The Bulwark's Will Saletan noted in detail. Even when the Governor took a position on a question, he was often hesitant, and tended to wait to see what the other candidates said or did. This does not project "strong," and "strong" is what Trumpy voters demand.

  5. We Candidates Three, Part II: The second candidate who is getting a lot of attention is Nikki Haley; commenters across the spectrum thought, as we did, that she gave the performance of the night. That includes, among others, the panel on Fox and Friends, The New York Times' David Brooks, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, CNN's SE Cupp, and even... Joe Biden. Isaac Bailey of The Charlotte Observer even echoed our assessment that Haley is the most electable candidate the Republicans have. The only problem is that her good-for-the-general-election rhetoric is absolute poison for a 21st century Republican primary.

  6. We Candidates Three, Part III: And finally, Vivek Ramaswamy probably got as much press attention in the last 24 hours as he did in the last 2 months. And he was searched on Google over 1 million times after the debate ended. Everyone agrees that he was the "star" of the (reality) show, such as it is. Everyone agrees he's making a play for the #2 slot on a number two ticket (and see below). Finally, everyone also agrees that his brand is "loathsome"; one piece describes him as the Republican Pete Buttigieg, in the sense that all the other candidates hate him. Another riffs on the title of a popular early 2000s TV show, and declares "Everybody Hates Vivek."

  7. Hello, Goodbye: The amount of attention given to DeSantis, Haley and Ramaswamy means that the other five folks on stage are largely afterthoughts. That's not good news for any politician, but it's particularly bad news for Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, as they are in serious danger of missing the second debate. Burgum is OK on donors, thanks to the $20 bribes he's been handing out (more below), but he hasn't gotten any qualifying polls. He needs to be at 3% or better in at least two national polls and at 3% or better in one national poll AND two early-state polls, and there's no indication he can pull off either feat. Hutchinson, for his part, is way short on both the donors and the polling. So, assuming Trump boycotts again, we could well be down to a half-dozen for the next debate.

  8. The Real Winner, Part I: It's sort of become a cliché that debate commenters, looking to be at least a little bit creative, award "wins" to people (or groups, or movements, or inanimate objects, etc.) who didn't even participate in the debate. That said, sometimes the shoe fits, and so there were a lot of pundits yesterday who asserted that the real winner of the debate was Donald Trump. The argument is simple: Nobody did him any damage, nobody did anything to make themselves a more likely challenger to his throne.

  9. The Real Winner, Part II: There was also a pile of op-eds arguing that the real winner of the debate was... Joe Biden. The argument is pretty much the same as with Donald Trump; none of the candidates did much to scratch the President's armor, none of them did anything to elevate themselves as any sort of future challenger to him.

  10. Keeping Score: If you would like a more black and white breakdown of the debate, then here's a chart of the various winners/losers pieces we could find. Left-leaning outlets are in blue, right-leaning in red, centrist and international in beige. We're only including "wins" and "losses" for the eight people who were actually on stage:

    The Philadelphia Inquirer
    The New York Times
    The Washington Post
    New York magazine
    Left-leaning Total
    Fort Worth Star-Telegram
    The Telegraph (UK)
    BBC News (UK)
    Centrist/International Total
    The Hill
    The Washington Times
    Donald Trump
    Right-Leaning Total
    Overall Total

    So, this method gives us a clear Haley win, as well, along with a bunch of middling performances, a rough night for DeSantis, and three "See ya later" scores. Of course, there's only one vote that's likely to matter, and that's the last one among the right-leaning sources.

This has already been a lot of debate stuff, so we'll either run reader comments as part of the mailbag, or perhaps next week. We got some very good stuff, and want to be able to give it the proper amount of attention.

Meanwhile, debate #2, set for Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, is right around the corner. (Z)

A Fool and Their Money?, Part I: Fields of Gold

Donald Trump is still the biggest star on Fox, even though he doesn't have a show there, and he uses his platform to engage in grift from his supporters. As it turns out, Fox News is also into grift, but in a different form. It takes lots of ads from the gold coin industry and they pay a pretty penny (in regular dollars) for the ads. The total ad spending of the industry is about a billion dollars a year, and Fox has a sizeable chunk of it.

Basically the companies are either selling the gold coins at way more than their actual value, sometimes as much as three times it, or are selling them at cost, but charging a huge commission. Either way, the sucker—er, sorry, the customer—is ripped off and the company and Fox do very well, thank you.

The ads say that the dollar's collapse is imminent and the only way to safeguard your assets is to buy physical gold and store it at home in a safe. Anyone who has taken Economics 101 knows that "collapse" means "against the euro, yen, yuan, and other currencies." If all your assets are in dollars and all your expenses are in dollars, the dollar-to-euro exchange rate doesn't matter to you. As an aside, (V) actually took Economics 101 from none other than Paul Samuelson, who wrote the book for it. But the folks who watch Fox News didn't take it from anyone.

The article linked to above cites a disabled senior who put her life savings into gold coins and lost half of it, which she can ill afford. She said that she assumed Fox must have approved of the ad, otherwise they wouldn't have run it. Actually, they approved of the ad very much, but not the way the woman thought.

Several attorneys general have filed lawsuits against the gold companies, but none have gone to court yet. Assuming their lawyers vetted the ads carefully and the ads don't make any claims that are illegal, the companies will probably win them. Saying: "gold coins are a great thing to have in times of inflation" is probably legal. Saying "gold coins are FDIC insured" is not. The companies' lawyers know this very well.

When asked about this, Fox pointed out that Wells Fargo paid a $3 billion fine for opening fake accounts in their customers' names and then charging them monthly fees for them, yet mainstream companies still accept ads from Wells Fargo, even though they are crooked as the day is long. And the gold coin companies haven't been convicted or fined, so they are presumed innocent for the time being.

Most of the coins themselves are manufactured by the Royal Canadian Mint, which says they are bullion, meaning their value is simply the number of ounces of gold in them times the price of gold per ounce. The mint sells them at the current bullion price plus a markup for handling and a profit. It has no control over people who buy them directly from the mint and then resell them at triple the price they paid. Krugerrands are another popular item since they contain exactly one troy ounce of gold, making it easy to look up the true bullion value every day on the Internet.

It is worth noting that Fox isn't the only right-wing media outlet to be guilty of this. To take another example, if you look at the Rumble page for the GOP candidates' debate, you will see that the sponsors are: (1) a right-wing coffee company, which is a little weird, but OK; (2) a group that sells precious metals to "investors"; and (3) a group that sells survivalist supplies at a hefty markup.

Similarly, Donald Trump is not the only right-wing individual to aggressively fleece the flock. Sean Hannity's $34 million salary apparently isn't enough, so he pitches "Wealth Protection Kits" on the side. Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich both hawk useless "home title lock" insurance. Mike Huckabee served, for years, as pitchman for a "natural sleep remedy" that is so dubious the manufacturer just settled a class-action lawsuit.

We did our best to see if there is any lefty equivalent of these things, and we simply couldn't come up with... anything. There are absolutely scammy products that appeal to people across the political spectrum. And there are scammy products whose user base skews somewhat lefty, like pretty much all the stuff put out by Gwyneth Paltrow's company Goop. But we cannot find any grifty product or service that is being pushed hard, and basically exclusively, by left-wing media outlets or by current/former left-wing politicians. If we are wrong, please let us know. And if we're right, well, we don't know exactly what it is about the right-wing media environment, or the right-wing fanbase, or both, that makes them particularly prone to scamming, but we're certainly interested in any theories readers might have.

The one thing that is clear is that P.T. Barnum was wrong. There isn't a sucker born every day. There are thousands of them. But even then, there are only so many fools to be parted from their money, and so much money to be grifted. While it is slightly macabre, the more money Fox viewers pour into solid-state snake oil, the less they have left over to give to Trump. Maybe the non-Trump scams we outline above are part of the reason that the Trump grift isn't nearly as lucrative these days. (V & Z)

A Fool and Their Money?, Part II: Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang

In the actual song, 'G' stands for 'Gangsta.' For our purposes, however, the 'G' is going to stand for 'Grift,' which may be the end game for the Elon Musk version of the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Since he acquired his new toy, Musk has taken countless steps that seem to be counterproductive. And by "counterproductive," we really mean "shooting himself in the foot with a bazooka." He's driven readers and advertisers away, made the platform far less stable from a technical perspective, and made it far easier for trolls, racists, incels and other obnoxious types to make their voices heard.

This month, Musk has already made one additional big change, and has suggested another is coming down the pike. The one that's a done deal is that the platform has made it considerably easier to make money, if a user is able to reach a lot of other users (or people on the Internet in general) with their ad pitches. It's called the Creator Ads Revenue Sharing program.

The other big change, which Musk said is "definite," but which would also cause the platform's app to be removed from all the big app stores, so we'll see how "definite" it really is, is to eliminate the "block" function. "Mute" would still be available, such that [USER X] would be able to avoid seeing content from [USER Y]. Nonetheless, [USER Y] would still be able to see and comment on anything [USER X] posted, and would also be able to reach all of [USER X]'s followers. Needless to say, this is going to give even freer rein to the racists, trolls, etc.

It's not exactly a keen insight to say that maybe Musk is trying to turn his social media platform into a more popular version of Truth Social, Parler, Gab, etc. But putting both of this month's announcements together, the plan could be considerably more precise, and to turn the platform formerly known as Twitter into a Fox-like grifting operation. That is to say, create a base of far-right content creators and users, and then have them sell stuff to each other.

Broadly speaking, this is not an impossible business model. To take a slight left turn for a moment, the actor Patrick Stewart made more money playing Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis than he did playing the role across seven seasons of the TV series. And the reason for that is that broadcast TV extracts a tiny amount of money from a large number of customers (roughly 1/20th of a penny per viewer per commercial), while movies extract a considerably larger amount of money ($10-$20 a ticket) from a smaller number of users. The old Twitter business model (many users, relatively little money per user) wasn't working, even before Musk came along. A much-higher-yield-per-user model could work well, if Musk can connect the right business interests with the right marks... er, customers. After all, it's working for Fox.

If this is what Musk was planning to do, it would be a big help if Donald Trump would return to the platform. Yes, Trump did his big interview with Tucker Carlson on there, but we mean actually returning to his one-time status as an active, tweeting "contributor" of content. And guess what? Yesterday, the prodigal son returned, sending his first tweet since 2021. Maybe this is just a one-time thing, but we doubt it. And, on the whole, the arrows seem to be pointing pretty clearly to what direction Twitter is headed. (Z)

This Week in Schadenfreude: Dirty Laundry

State AG Ken Paxton has been a Texas-sized sleazeball for well over a decade, engaging in all sorts of (alleged) abuses of the law and (alleged) abuses of his high office. He's also avoided paying a price for his misdeeds, at least so far, through clever legal machinations and foot-dragging tactics that even put Donald Trump to shame.

On September 5, the rubber may meet the road, as that is the day that Paxton's impeachment trial commences. And in advance of that, every skeleton in his closet appears to be seeing the light of day. There's been plenty of dirt this week, for example, about exactly how corrupt his relationship with real estate developer Nate Paul is, and how aggressively he has worked to conceal that relationship. The only problem with this sort of information is that while it makes great fodder in an actual court, it doesn't necessarily make a big dent in the court of public opinion, since it's kind of complicated and abstract. Since an impeachment is at least as much political as it is legal (see Trump, Donald, Impeachments of), the prosecution needs to undermine Paxton with voters if it wants to secure a conviction.

Consequently, this week has also seen a lot of salacious stuff come out about Paxton. There is, first of all, former Texas Ranger David Maxwell, who worked as Paxton's director of law enforcement. This week, an interview was released in which Maxwell detailed a pervasive pattern of sexual harassment in Paxton's office, particularly involving First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster and Deputy AG Aaron Reitz (as a sidebar, Webster is still in Paxton's employ; Reitz just left to become chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX).

As to Paxton himself, he not only tolerated the hostile work environment, he was also cheating left, right, and sideways on his wife. It's not illegal to have a mistress, per se, but he also had burner phones and fake e-mail addresses and a fake Uber account so he could cover his tracks. Some of these things may have been funded with public money. So, we're talking possible fraud here.

These various personal failings will not sit well with the Texas electorate, especially given their overall social conservatism. And this, in turn, has two implications. First, it puts pressure on the Texas senators to cashier Paxton, even if they might not be otherwise inclined to do so. Second, it gives the Texas senators cover to cashier Paxton, if they believe he needs to go but they are worried about blowback. It's not a coincidence that just this week, as reader M.P. in Dallas brings to our attention, still-popular former governor Rick Perry (R) wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal decreeing that Paxton has to go.

In short, it sure looks like the walls are crumbling down. If so, it's about time, since Americans in all 50 states deserve upstanding public servants, as opposed to modern-day machine-style bosses like Paxton. (Z)

This Week in Freudenfreude: Edge of Seventeen

Last week, in "This Week in Schadenfreude: Games People Play," we noted that we'd gotten one of Doug Burgum's $20 gift cards, and we wanted to know what we should do with the money, since we most certainly don't want to keep it. We got so many good suggestions that we couldn't narrow it down to 12, so we're going to list 16 options. And since many of these highlight the good work being done by decent people across the country, we moved this from "Schadenfreude" to "Freudenfreude." Here are the finalists:

  1. L.C. in Boston, MA: Contribute it to the Biden campaign. Bonus points if you can find a way to make it explicit to the Biden campaign (maybe do the donation by phone?) where the money came from and why it is going where it is going. Even more bonus points if you can find a way to make the same thing explicit to the Burgum campaign.

  2. E.M. in Stillwater, MN: Red River Women's Clinic, providing abortion services in Moorhead, MN, just across the state line from Fargo, ND.

  3. M.G. in Stow, MA: Put an ad in the Bismarck Tribune making some of the points you made in the original Schadenfreude item.

  4. H.G. in Bellingham, WA: You could always send the money to me, an elitist college-educated pro-choice suburban west coast liberal. That would really piss Doug off since it would mean I got a total of $39 from his campaign to use on purple hair dye and unicorn feed.

  5. M.D. in Akron, OH: One of my favorite gags is the sh** express. It's about $20 to send anywhere in the world. I imagine the address of Burgum's campaign headquarters is public record.

  6. E.D. in Murrieta, CA: Spend it on a 12-pack of Bud Light!

  7. A.R. in Chicago, IL: As the GOP's only apparent platform seems to be interfering in medical decisions of trans folks, I suggest just donating it to the Trans Legal Defense Fund.

  8. R.R. in Pasadena, CA: Considering how much people in North Dakota apparently hated the movie Fargo when it came out, perhaps a "You betcha!" coffee cup... that's a twofer, since that's also a Sarah Palin dig.

  9. P.M. in Beaverton, OH: Donate it to Maui Strong. They do good work, and need the money. A rich white guy helping a native population rebuild after a wildfire (arguably made hundreds of times worse by the climate change his party denies) might not be the finger in the eye you're looking for, but it feels close... and right, to me.

  10. G.S. in San Francisco, CA: I suggest donating it to the John Oliver Koala Chlamydia Ward at the Australian Zoo in Sydney.

  11. M.C. in Dana Point, CA: Donate the $20 to the food bank in Sioux County, ND. Per Wikipedia: "The per capita income for the county was $13,542. About 39.0% of families and 47.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 58.4% of those under age 18 and 36.1% of those age 65 or over."

  12. P.M. in Edenton, NC: Donate the gift card's amount to the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. That group successfully banned fracking on their tribal lands, citing the need to preserve the natural environment and their way of life. It likely wouldn't make Burgum very happy to know his money was going to support a group that prevented fossil fuel extraction in his home state, and also (by default) took steps in climate change mitigation.

  13. N.C. in Gibsons, BC, Canada: In trying to figure out how to expend the $20, perhaps consider donating it to the ACLU of North Dakota. Their website states "The ACLU works to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and Two Spirit people belong everywhere and can live openly and authentically without discrimination, harassment, or violence."

  14. L.R.H. in Oakland, CA: The dachshund rescue of (Z)'s choice.

  15. D.H. in Oakland, CA: The Democratic Party of North Dakota.

  16. C.A. in Morrisville, NC: Donate it to Qspace (Queerspace), an LGBTQ nonprofit in the ND capital Bismarck. It is a youth focused support group for middle and high school students.

We're going to do this ranked-choice style; cast your votes here. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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