by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & Must-See TV & r & & r & With the writers strike dragging on in Hollywood, producers are dumping all manner of reality shows into their prime time schedules. So far in 2008, one of the surprise hits has been the presidential race.

"This one is special," Time magazine writer David Von Drehle told the New York Times. "You have the Clintons, a powerful dysfunctional family... you have this out of nowhere handsome stranger in Obama... John McCain, left for dead in a previous episode, roars back to life, and Mitt Romney... is a dead ringer for John Forsythe. And I am not the first to point out that Mike Huckabee is Jim Nabors. And then it all ends in this amazing American Idol big episode on Super Tuesday. How can you not watch that?"

And the ratings agree: According to the Times, CNN's presidential primary ratings are double what they were in 2004, when the Dean Scream was the soundbite of the season. And FOX's ratings are up 60 percent, while MSNBC is up 150 percent. No wonder all those pundits suddenly backed off their normal knee-jerk desire to crown a winner early -- nobody wants this show to end any time soon.


Just to show how wild and crazy the Romney bunch is, son Matt pulled a little prank on dad Mitt just before the Michigan primary -- he called his cell phone and played some audio snippets of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as if the Governator was calling to cheer him up. Matt, in San Diego, and Mitt, in a diner in Grand Rapids, bond in this slickly edited item you can watch on YouTube. See, they're just a regular family!

Wild West

If you're looking forward to the Feb. 9 caucuses in Washington, you might want to take a look at how things played out in the Nevada caucus on Jan. 19. Reports of participant intimidation, doors being closed a half-hour early and lawsuits over where to hold the events were obscured by the final result, which was... a tie? Apparently Hillary Clinton won the most votes, but Barack Obama will get the most delegates from Nevada -- or will he? Nobody's sure, really, until county and state conventions are held later this year. Now tell us again, why are caucuses so great?

Mardi Bras

Through March 3
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