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Jack Bauer Does Not Heart Huckabee

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Reading today's coverage of the Republican straw poll at the Iowa State Fair yesterday, we were struck by the utter ridiculousness of the system: Voters have to pay to vote, campaigns often pick up the tab for their supporters, Mitt Romney spent the most money, and the winner was — would you believe? — Mitt Romney. We were also struck by Mike Huckabee, the formerly fat former Arkansas governor who somehow impressed the political commentariat by coming in a distant second to Romney, with a whopping 2,587 votes. Thing is, we realized, Mike Huckabee can never become president. He's clearly 24's traitorous, murderous (and perhaps murdered) President Charles Logan. And that dude's First Lady is crazy. For a Joke-Telling Candidate, a Second-Place Finish [NYT]

Spitzer Brings in PR-Fight Reinforcements

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Embroiled in a dogfight with Joe Bruno over what he knew and when he knew it, Governor Spitzer is ramping up his press offensive in Albany, hoping to turn the tide on a story that hasn't looked good and won't seem to end. Late last week, the State Democratic Party hired the PR firm that successfully fought to block the Starrett City sale earlier this year to handle Spitzer's wartime press against Bruno and his fellow Republicans in the State Senate. Jonathan Rosen, a principal of the firm, BerlinRosen, says he spoke with Spitzer chief of staff Richard Baum several times last week before accepting the gig. Now, though, he's raring to go. "The Senate investigative hearings are like the legislative equivalent of O.J. Simpson's hunt for the real killer," he told us, taking his new talking points out for a spin. "They're over the top, they're overplaying their hand badly, and it's going to backfire." His new client is sure hoping so. —Geoffrey Gray

‘Page Six’ Gone Wild

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Don't quite see why Joe Francis being angry at Hugh Hefner is somehow the lead item in "Page Six" today? Don't understand what the news is, with Francis having been in jail since April on these charges of taping underage girls for a Girls Gone Wild video? Perhaps you've forgotten this, then: That $50,000 Mexican bachelor party for "Page Six" editor Richard Johnson? Joe Francis threw it. Jailed Joe Not Wild Over Hef [NYP]

Mayor's Gal Gets a New Gig

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Diana Taylor, Mayor Bloomberg's girlfriend, just snagged herself a new government job: Governor Spitzer announced her appointment today as head of the Hudson River Park Trust, the state entity in charge of converting land along the West Side Highway into a paradise of playgrounds and boat launches and bike paths. After a career in finance, Taylor joined the governor's office in the Pataki administration. In 2003, he appointed her New York State's superintendent of banks, a position she held until February, when she stepped down to join a private investment firm. Her new post will be about as hard as any we can imagine: The trust is regularly lambasted from all sides. Everyone from powerful developers like Times Square landlord Doug Durst to the aging hippies who run the free-kayak program routinely fault it for either regulating too heavily or moving too lethargically. Even worse, when a developer is selected for the MTA's Hudson Yards site, which should happen this fall, a whole new tangle of questions will arise about access and development rights. A relocation to Washington, D.C., might start to seem like a good exit strategy. —Alec Appelbaum

Coney Island USA to Buy Its Building, Thwarting Thor

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You'd need a fortune-teller to determine the future of Coney Island these days: What will Thor Equities ultimately build, and will the city swap land with the developer, as has been proposed, to preserve amusements on the boardwalk? But this much, at least, is clear: Fans of sword swallowers and facial tattoos can down a celebratory pint of Coney Island Lager in two weeks, when the nonprofit that runs the Mermaid Parade, the Coney Island Museum, and the Circus Sideshow closes a deal to buy the building it currently leases. Coney Island USA founder Dick Zigun says that with the city’s backing, it will purchase the 1917 structure, originally a restaurant, at a price of $3.6 million — beating out Thor for the deal. "We have never been so secure and permanent in the neighborhood," Zigun said, "and that's totally thanks to the political leadership of New York City." Within five years the building will be restored to its former glory and the Coney Island Circus Sideshow will expand, along with the Freak Bar and museum gift shop, to twice its size. Best of all, this means the Mermaid Parade will have a long-term home base. Unless, Zigun points out, everything is under water 30 years from now. —Daniel Maurer

Miraculously, New York Withstands Rain Storm

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It's raining out ("lightly," according to Weather.com; heavily, according to a look out our window), one to two inches of rainfall is expected, with "locally heavier rainfall possible," and there's a flash-food watch in effect for the city. And yes, at least according to the MTA's Website, nearly all the subway trains are running — the only exception being some delays and diversions on the 2, 3, and 5 lines in Harlem, owing to a police investigation, not because of the weather. So, hey, congratulations, MTA, for doing what you're supposed to do. Well done. Service Alert [MTA] 10022 [Weather.com]

And Spitzer Wonders, Still He Wonders, Who'll Drain the Rain

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It was a rough day for the MTA. And at a press conference this afternoon Eliot Spitzer revealed just how bad. The subway system is designed to drain up to an inch and a half of rainfall, he said; this storm inundated it with three inches in a frenzied hour. That made for what Spitzer said "is supposed to be a highly unusual event" — except for one thing: It's the third time this year that's happened. The puddling problem wasn't this morning's only calamity — MTA executive director Lee Sander later cited a downed tree near Stillwell Avenue and smoke in tunnels — but it was the most severe. At the governor's insistence, the MTA will take 30 days, or thereabouts, to research how it might bolster the drains. When it's announced, expect a round of wrangling among MTA leaders, state legislators, unions, and the rest. And perhaps buy yourself a kayak. —Alec Appelbaum

Further Adventures in Decrepit Infrastructure: MTA-in-the-Rain Edition

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As you may have noticed, it is raining today. Rather heavily, even. And so, naturally, as Daily Intel's Bushwick-residing photo editor sends a text message to report, the B, D, F, V, 4, 5, and 6 trains aren't running. The MTA Website also reports major problems on the 1, 2, 3, A, C, E, L, N, R, J, Q trains and on the 42nd Street Shuttle. (We think that leaves the 7 and the G as the only trains operating properly.) Don't you just love our aging infrastructure? Service Alert [MTA]

Happy National Underwear Day!

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Today, as you no doubt know, is National Underwear Day. And what better way to celebrate than by picking up some merch from New York's most visible (and slightly overfriendly) icon of underoos? That's right — the Naked Cowboy has expanded into retail. You can pick up specially tagged briefs from his Website, or a personalized blue guitar, or his touching Every Moment Counts DVD and its sequel, Fear God Hate Sin. But his newest products, like Statue of Liberty–style figurines, are, frustratingly, only available in person. And if you're going to venture into the 92-degree human steamer that is Times Square today, you, too, may find the Cowboy's minimalist look the best way to go. Products [NakedCowboy.com]

Fun With Fundrace: Park Slope for Obama, 'Burg for Hillary, Batali for John Edwards, and More

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We told you yesterday about Fundrace 2008, the fun new feature on the Huffington Post that lets you track people's political contributions by name or by neighborhood. What we didn't expect was that the thing would prove terribly addictive. Here's a sampling of what we found after a full day of playing with it: • Completely random celeb-name search reveals Mario Batali's $1,000 contribution to John Edwards (as well as the chef's home address), Tommy Hilfiger's $2,300 donation to Barack Obama, and the supposedly apolitical Sandy Weill's $4,600 gift to Hillary Clinton.

$150,000 for Two Weeks? Only in the Hamptons, Kids

The never-cheap Hamptons may finally crossed the line into totally, ridiculously, stratospherically expensive as folks with money realize the summer is winding down and they wouldn't mind spending some time on the East End before the season's out. Power broker Lori Barbaria of Prudential Douglas Elliman just rented a modest — for the Hamptons, at least — 3,500-square-foot house in Bridgehampton for mind-bending $150,000 for two weeks, not including the $250-per-shot for the cleaning service required every few days. Her colleague, Paul Brennan, says he's gotten calls begging for anything on the waterfront for $30,000 for a weekend, a fairly novel request as short-term rentals are frowned-upon in the Hamptons and asking for them is tantamount to wearing polyester to polo. But even with those huge sums being offered, brokers are skeptical anything will pan out. "Once in a while you can do something if the owners are out of the country," says Brennan, "but the reception is usually lukewarm." —S. Jhoanna Robledo

Brooklyn Loves Marty Dolls; Bobbling Brooklyn Bridge Worries Us

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Yesterday was Marty Markowitz Bobblehead Doll Day at KeySpan Park, and we can report that it was everything we’d hoped it would be. Marty’s fans were out in full force — 200 were already lined up when the gates opened to be sure to get one of the 2,500 dolls, and some seemed to be there only for the doll. (The woman behind us in line had her ticket scanned, took the doll, turned around, and went home.) Markowitz seemed as excited as we were to see his head on a doll, even if said doll looks more like Newt Gingrich than the beep. “I wanted to marry a beautiful woman, and I did,” he said in his speech. “I wanted to become Brooklyn borough president, and I did. But never did I dream I’d have my own bobblehead doll.” Meantime, we're more than a bit concerned about the Cyclones' upcoming Brooklyn Bridge bobblebridge promotion. We’d rather not have on our desk a reminder of how old and rickety that thing is, thank you very much. —Joe DeLessio Earlier: Flick Marty in the Face!

Less News Is Fit to Print

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Like us, you no doubt got up this morning and headed right to the front door, eager to pick up your morning paper and experience the first day of the rest of your Times. The new paper is the same height as before, but it's an inch and a half narrower, bringing it "to the national newspaper 12-inch standard," as the "To Our Readers" note published on the front page explains. We picked it up from our doorstep, and we found it, at first glance, to be very much like the old Times, if perhaps a little lighter than usual. (The lighter-ness, we soon realized, is just because there isn't one of those obnoxious, novel-size Corcoran inserts today.)

There Goes the Neighborhood: Longstanding UWS Lefty Emporium to Close

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Isn't the Upper West Side — especially the upper reaches of the eighties and into the nineties (and well into the hundreds) — supposed to be for lefty intellectual sorts following familiar routines in their sprawling, rent-controlled prewars? Not anymore, it increasingly seems. The owners of Liberty House, a neighborhood fixture on Broadway and 92nd, posted a sign two days ago announcing it will close its doors after 39 years in business, leaving area residents wondering where they'll find antiwar posters, jewelry handmade by local artisans, and Frida Kahlo tchotchkes.

Um, How Old Are Our Bridges?

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The Interstate 35W bridge in downtown Minneapolis, which collapsed into the Mississippi River at about 6 p.m. last night, turned 40 years old this year, as all the coverage reminds us. How old are New York's bridges? The Brooklyn Bridge is the oldest, of course; it opened on May 24, 1883, making it 124 years old. The 59th Street and Manhattan bridges come next, both opening in 1909. The 59th Street is 98 years old, and the Manhattan, which opened on the last day of the year, is still a sprightly 97. The George Washington opened in October 1931; it's 75 years old for a few more months. (But the lower span, sometimes called Martha — 'cause it's under George! Ha! — merely turns 45 this month.)

Cabs of the Future Are Kind Of Nifty

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So we've actually been a little troubled by this whole electronic-doohickey-thingy they're planning to install in cabs, the one that the cabbies group is threatening to strike over. We're not sure we like the idea of a GPS system tracking us, either, and there's nothing more obnoxious than a cheery video playing in the back of a taxi (didn't they try that a few years ago? To universal disdain?). Either way, it'll really be a bitch if the cabbies go on strike. Then yesterday we hopped in a cab and discovered one of the gizmos already installed. (Apparently there are already something like 700 in use, the TLC told us, and more are going in every day. Which would seem to us to sort of moot a September strike, but what do we know?) And we were pleasantly surprised to discover the things are actually pretty cool.

Giuliani Backs Hillary — and He Matches

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Rudy Giuliani is supporting Hillary Clinton — at least in her mini-feud with Barack Obama over whether the two Democratic presidential candidates would meet with the leaders of hostile foreign countries. (Obama said he would; Clinton said she'd be reluctant.) "I’d say don’t count on Fidel Castro being invited to the White House if I’m president," Giuliani told us at the Super Saturday shopping benefit for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund over the weekend. "As I understood [Obama's] statement, he’s either going to invite to Washington or meet somewhere else the head of Cuba, who would be Castro, and the head of Iran, who is Ahmadinejad. That’s quite a crew. I don’t know that I would want to meet with them. Some people you just don’t meet with if they’re going to use that to propagate their own propaganda. I thought Hillary Clinton was on the right side of that." Giuliani was at the Water Mill event with his wife, Judi, who he said was the shopper in the family. "I shop for limited items: golf clubs, books," he said. Fashion is his wife's department. "She tells me if the colors work or the shirt looks nice," he explained. So do the colors work, Judi? "He doesn’t make any mistakes," she said, campaigningly. "He’s Rudy Giuliani!" —Jada Yuan Kelly Ripa, Donna Karan and Mandy Moore were also at Super Saturday. For complete pictures and quotes, read Party Lines.

Al Sharpton to Go to Chicago, Take on Jesse Jackson?

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Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have had a difficult relationship over the years — at times a bitterly difficult one — and it's about to get even more complex. This week, Sharpton will go into direct competition with Jackson, his theoretical mentor and occasional father figure, by opening a branch of his civil-rights advocacy group, National Action Network, in Jackson's hometown of Chicago, where the elder activist's own civil-rights advocacy group, the Rainbow/PUSH coalition, is headquartered. "There is a demand in that market, and we're answering that demand," Sharpton told New York, innocently. "Every generation does its own thing. Growth of the movement is a good thing." A Chicago press conference to announce the new National Action Network chapter is planned for Wednesday, and neither Jackson nor anyone from Rainbow/PUSH is on the list of scheduled speakers. But someone interesting is: the Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr., Barack Obama's pastor. (He's the guy who once titled a speech "Audacity to Hope," giving Obama book ideas.) While it's unclear if Wright is sidestepping his fellow Chicago clergyman to ally with Sharpton, his daughter, Jeri Wright, definitely is. She'll be running Sharpton's new outpost. She gave Jackson a heads-up earlier this week, she said, and he wasn't upset: "He said, 'Whatever I can do to help, just let me know.'" —Geoffrey Gray Related: Rev Vs. Rev [NYM]

‘Harper's Bazaar’ Is Large, It Contains Multitudes

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It's hard to be a woman (well, we're told), subject to the whims of fashion mags and their demanding editors. But this month it seems the ladies of Harper's Bazaar are maliciously toying with their readers. First, on page 83, the magazine recommends the "Smart Shopping" tip of a Diane Von Furstenberg military-style coat, complete with double buttons and epaulets, depicted in a stylish red and available at Saks for a mere $575. Then, on pages 96–97, a "Buy, Keep, Store" guide — instructing readers on "what to run out and buy, what's still right to wear, and what you can ignore — for now" puts in the "store" category those very same "military styles." Why? ("Epaulets are too severe for fall's soft shoulders.") What's an attentive reader to think? Why in one place does Bazaar hate epaulets but in another recommend DVF's version? We've got no idea. And we're sure the issue's Von Furstenberg profile is a mere coincidence.