What do Sanjaya Malakar and Hillary Clinton have in common? More than an astounding penchant for sounding shrill and one-note, apparently.
With the news Monday that Rush Limbaugh is telling his Texas listeners to take advantage of the open primary rules in their state by voting for Hillary, he has essentially taken on the Howard Stern role in keeping the vocally-challenged teenager alive on American Idol.
While Stern presumably sought to undermine the legitimacy of the Idol phenomenon, Limbaugh hopes to slow that of Barack Obama and give the Republican party the perceived advantage gained from a drawn-out summer slugfest on the Democratic side.
"I think we all agree that if Sen. Obama wins Texas and Ohio, it's over," said David Hardt, Dallas resident and DNC superdelegate, agreeing that if the nomination process lasts through to the convention, it will "tear our party apart."
"There's sort of a rush to finish this," said Sue Lovell, Houston resident and fellow superdeleagte to Hardt, emphasizing that no party members she has spoken with "want it to come down to where a smaller group of people cast their vote" and decide the outcome so late in the game.
But are Texas Republicans following suit? In all matters Texas and conservative, I consult two proud, Ft. Worth-residing right-wingers who happen to call me their offspring.
"I would be ashamed to go in and ask for a Democratic ticket," said Mary Nelson, my mother of 28 years.
(For the record, I live in Los Angeles and voted for Obama on Super Tuesday. Let's just say her and I differ on a few things from time to time.)
My father - Gary Nelson - was a bit more strategic in his thinking, agreeing with Limbaugh's assessment and admitting to me that he had chalked one up for Hillary in the early voting round.
"What is in the best interest of a Republican candidate," he asked. "By voting for Hillary, you only lose the ability to influence a tight Republican primary race."
Despite the Dallas Morning News' perplexing re-endorsement of Huckabee on Monday, a close race clearly does not exist for Sen. McCain.
I began to think that all of the grassroots organizational kudos were lavished on Obama's campaign too quickly. I must admit, this political hack-a-Shaq is quite the savvy manipulation of the system: put the worst shooter at the line and extend the game as long as possible.
Not only is Hillary waging a sloppy and divisive campaign, her relentless attacks on Obama are starting to show some chinks in his hope-encrusted armor that McCain can easily tuck away and exploit at all the right times, according to both of the elder Nelsons.
They both cited attacks on his lack of foriegn policy experience, and the recent flap over his senior economic advisor's reassuring wink-wink to the Canaidan government on Obama's anti-NAFTA debate rhetoric as examples of her pouncing while McCain prods and smiles.
A golfing buddy of my father's also took the Hillary route to keep the Democrats squabbling while McCain quietly fundraises and waits in the wings. A friend of the family in Houston did the same. Who knows how many more Limbaugh swayed.
Gary told me that the line for the Democratic ballots was about 10 times as long as the Republican one. He couldn't discern how many were Republican double-agents, but it is worth noting that Tarrant County is historically one of the reddest counties in the entire nation.
It may all be moot though, as both of my parents see a dead heat among white voters based on local media coverage, leaving it up to the African-American and Hispanic turnouts to decide who gets the majority of the pledged delegates.
Given that, it makes sense that my family has received no phone calls or flyers for either candidate in the predominantly white, middle-class, right-wing neighborhood where they live.
Obama has, however, bought one full-page ad per day for the past five days in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram, detailing his policies on energy, health care, special interests, veteran care issues, and the economy.
If all else fails, he can always blow a call into Stern, belt out "I Will Survive," and hope for the worst.