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As Good As It Gets?

In the midst of all the one-liners, Hillary Clinton insults and oblique references to George Dubya Who? during Wednesday nights' GOP YouTube debate, some of the night's more pointed queries -- all on social issues -- came from questioners since found to have -- gasp! -- ties to Democrats.

Openly Gay retired Army Brigadier Gen. Keith Kerr, asked the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" question; he's also been a member of a Hillary Clinton steering committee for LGBT issues and supported John Kerry.

Another questioner, a college kid named Ted Faturos, munched an ear of corn while asking about farm subsidies. Cute, right? Except Ted worked as a high school intern for a Democratic legislator.

A woman who asked the abortion question, is on her MySpace page in a Kerry T-shirt, and the black dude who asked the gay question is known to be down with Obama.

Even the Pittsburgh mom who asked about lead-poisoned toys from China, has Democratic leanings!

Frankly it's all very "The Hills." But does it actually matter?

Some are calling it another example of CNN's liberal bias. Maybe it was just the influence of "slobbering Anderson Cooper fans," or part of A.C.'s is-he-or-isn't-he "gay agenda."

The whole thing certainly wasn't the apex of transparent journalism, but I'm not sure the non-disclosures were important enough to negate the value of the questions themselves. What I'm saying is that it hardly seems necessary, and even less likely, that the Clinton campaign would have had to plant the gay general.

For one thing, after all the hubbub over the "diamonds or pearls" question in Las Vegas, they surely wouldn't have tried it again in such a high-profile setting.

And with the Democratic party's latest DIY venture, FlipperTV -- an online pool of raw footage of GOP candidates shot by Democratic "trackers" and available for re-mixing, setting to music, or homemade ad-making -- getting off the ground, it a no-brainer that the Republicans are doing the same. Planting questions seems hardly worth the effort, especially after "How do we beat the bitch?"

But really, who else was going to ask those questions? Obviously, they're being asked within the party itself. There's a reason that some socially liberal Republicans are either switching parties or thinking about voting Democratic in November, andthat's because they feel pushed out of their party. These are folks who might have been willing to vote for pro-choice Rudy Giuliani -- but wait, he's got another scandal, so maybe not.

If you ask me, those questions are just more evidence that Republicans suck at YouTube. Yes, that's a broad generalization of a kind I don't usually make, but come on -- did you watch this thing? People throwing shotguns, a dude waving a Bible, the Stars and Bars, people. And the videos made by the candidates themselves weren't much better.

One of the highlights of the Democratic version of the CNN/YouTube debate were the short videos produced by each campaign in that "edgy" style the Internets love so much. You remember, the one with Bill and Hillary playing like the last episode of "The Sopranos"? Or the John Edwards one, where he makes fun of his hair? Man, they were awesome. There was nothing that juicy to be found among the GOP offerings, (save for the exchange between McCain and Romney on waterboarding) but commercials you can see on network TV -- which is sort of the opposite of YouTube.

Only Fred Thompson's old-school negative attack ad, in which he calls out Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, stood out, and not just because everyone was figuring he'd do some kind of "Law and Order" thing.

Other candidates did highlight reels, or ignored the primary race entirely and focused on the real enemy, Hillary Clinton. Only Thompson's spot stayed on message -- Fred's gen-u-wine conservative principles -- and on mission -- the race he's in right now. This makes him either a genius or just really old, but probably not both.

In the whole two hours, the best of the bunch came from a guy named Nick Anderson (and he's not really even an average citizen, but an editorial cartoonist for the Houston Chronicle) and that involved an animated Dick Cheney with a hunting rifle. Not exactly Robert Smigel, but I guess with the Hollywood writers still on strike and "Dancing With The Stars" over for the time being, this might be as good as it's going to get.

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