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Senor Smith vs. the Willamette WeekTabloid trash, Fey does Palin and more, more, more 

When Portland's Willamette Week ran a cover story last week alleging that Republican Sen. Gordon Smith's family-owned frozen food company in Eastern Oregon employs illegal

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When Portland's Willamette Week ran a cover story last week alleging that Republican Sen. Gordon Smith's family-owned frozen food company in Eastern Oregon employs illegal immigrants, the senator did what Republicans do best in the face of media scrutiny: make the media sound crazy.

"It is wholly compromised of unsubstantiated and ridiculous allegations from a liberal tabloid whose purpose is to advance a left-wing agenda rather than the truth," said a release from the Smith camp.

While the WW piece doesn't provide a smoking gun to bring the hammer down on Smith Frozen Foods, it does nonetheless provide sources that definitely raise some eyebrows about the employment situation at the facility. Also, the piece more than passes the smell test of credible journalism with a story. But, Smith and company seem satisfied by blowing off the WW as a "liberal tabloid." If it's a liberal tabloid, then it's a liberal tabloid that has, among other awards, a Pulitzer for investigative reporting (with a story breaking news of former Governor Neil Goldschmidt's sexual abuse of a young girl while he was mayor of Portland) under its belt. And that would mean if it's a "liberal tabloid," then it's a liberal tabloid that's been in print for the past 30-plus years and pumps some 90,000 copies out each week.

Unfortunately for Smith, not all Oregonians are as dismissive of print media - not even of the free ones. Damn liberal media, right Gordo?

Saturday Night's All Right For Satire

It wouldn't be an Upfront without an update on Sarah Palin Watch '08, now would it? This week we look not at Palin, necessarily, but her Saturday Night Live doppelganger. At the beginning of Saturday night's show, SNL alum Tina Fey put her hair up and donned an eye-blistering red dress to accompany Amy Poehler in a Palin/Hillary Clinton joint address on sexism. And DAMN did Fey have the look and the bear-with-me-I'm-new-at-this pattern of speech with which the slow-talking vice presidential candidate has delighted the Republican base and ruined the carpets with vomit of the faction of the country that don't think awkwardly delivered hockey mom jokes are particularly funny.

Should Sarah Palin and her family (Piper, Slippy, Slappy, Wikipedia, and the rest of the gang) actually make it into the number two slot this fall, there's a good chance Fey will have to come back to SNL. If she did, at least we'd have a qualified satirist to poke fun at our impossibly unqualified leader.

As for the rest of the show...Michael Phelps was the host and it may have been the worst episode of all time. Believe it or not, and we didn't know this either, gold medals don't make you funny...or a good actor...or grant you ability to read cue cards.

The Great Gig in the Sky

Upfront would like to offer a solemn tip of our 70s era Koss headphones to keyboardist Rick Wright, a founding member of Pink Floyd. Wright's contributions helped the band transform rock and roll from a piece of toss away pop culture to high art. He also helped transform many a basement headphone from a sound delivery system to an interstellar travel vehicle with his signature, tape loop effects, samples and keyboards, illustrated perhaps most dramatically on the band's 1973 watershed work Dark Side of the Moon. Wright was known as a private man who avoided the rockstar fanfare, as did most of his band mates. But his contributions speak louder and longer than any of today's preening prima donnas of Pop.

Forest smackdown

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Upfront got word this week that the Deschutes Forest had been dealt a major setback in its bid to log roughly 4,000 acres of old growth and lowland forests south of Sunriver near Davis Lake. The project known as Five Buttes was put on hold by a federal judge in Portland after environmental groups challenged the proposal, which was billed as a forest restoration and fire prevention project. Environmentalists, including the Sierra Club, said it was nothing more than a timber grab and part of a larger push orchestrated by the Bush Administration to reward its supporters in the timber industry by boosting timber targets.

The Deschutes Forest, for example, proposed to increase its timber harvest by 50 percent between 2006 and 2008, a trend that has been mirrored on other federal forests as the Bush Administration pushed back on the Northwest Forest Plan, the agreement which was designed to balance timber interests with biological ones.

That effort has been dealt a significant setback on the local forests with the recent ruling which found that the agency had not done enough to preserve habitat, particularly for the endangered Northern Spotted Owl (the timber industry's old nemesis) on the Five Buttes project.

Although a portion of the total project has already been sold and logged, administrators will have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan that does more to protect and preserve old growth habitat.


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