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It was a match made in Nielsen heaven


The Sarah Palin phenomenon and the lift it gave the Republican presidential ticket may have cooled somewhat.

Still, Palin is made for TV, as well as trained in it. Combine those attributes with an appearance on a network whose viewers include many in sync with her politics -- Fox News Channel -- and you've got a match made in Nielsen ratings heaven.

Wednesday night's "Hannity & Colmes" program featuring the first of two interview segments with Palin gave the show its second-highest total viewership for 2008.

Courtesy of a proud Fox PR department, here's how the competition among the three main cable news networks played out in the 9-10 p.m. Eastern time slot Wednesday:

* FNC's Hannity & Colmes: 4,921,000 viewers.

* MSNBC's Rachel Maddow: 1,716,000 viewers.

* CNN's Larry King: 1,646,000 viewers.


Biden on taxes and patriotism

Democrats have been loudly complaining that John McCain, Palin and other Republicans routinely misrepresent Barack Obama's tax plan by asserting that the Democrat would raise levies across the board.

Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, on Thursday sought in his inimitable way to stress that the Democratic platform calls for increasing income taxes only for those making more than $250,000 a year.

"You got it: It's time [for the well-off] to be patriotic," he said on ABC's "Good Morning America" when his interviewer noted that Obama was targeting the affluent.

The Republican National Committee immediately sent off an e-mail flagging the quote.

Palin scoffed at Biden's comment as she and McCain stumped late that morning in Iowa, telling the crowd that raising taxes isn't about patriotism, it's "about killing jobs and hurting small businesses and making things worse."

McCain, taking the stage after Palin, said of raising taxes in tough times: "It's not a badge of honor. It's just plain dumb."


Don't count out Nader and Barr

Money is always an issue with independent and third-party candidates.

Independent Ralph Nader has raised $1.9 million since he entered the race this year, including $365,973 in August, leaving him with $390,118 in the bank at the end of the month, according to campaign finance reports filed last week with the Federal Election Commission.

In any other person's world, $1.9 million would be a lot of money. But Obama raised an average of $2.1 million per day last month, McCain $1.5 million.

Then there is Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr, who has received $632,862 since entering the race, and had $62,969 in the bank at the end of August.

There is hope for candidates not named Obama and McCain. Trevor Lyman, one of Rep. Ron Paul's big fans and fundraisers, has sent a mass e-mail appeal suggesting a fundraising pool for the other non-major-party candidates: winner take all.

Backers of candidates other than Obama or McCain would send money to an account Lyman would establish. Whichever candidate received the most would get the entire bundle.

(Paul, the Texas libertarian Republican, has refused to endorse McCain and is urging people to back one of the other candidates.)


Chris Matthews back in doghouse

Forget the battle for the White House. Here's a campaign that's really heating up: the bid by a new women's group to hold Chris Matthews accountable for what it asserts is "misogynistic journalism" practiced by the voluble MSNBC political pundit.

The New Agenda, a nonpartisan group promoting women's rights, sent a letter Monday to NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker asking for a meeting to discuss Matthews' attitude toward women.

Amy Siskind, one of the group's founders, said in an interview that the group wants Matthews to issue a public apology and change his on-air behavior.

Absent that, he needs to be fired, she said.

The New Agenda also sent its letter to various Democratic officials in Pennsylvania, Matthews' native state, where there has been chatter he might seek the party's nomination for the Senate in 2010.


Times staff writers Dan Morain and Peter Nicholas contributed. Excerpted from The Times' political blog Top of the Ticket, at

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