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Last night I went to see the magical Molly Ivins on what she says is a combination of book tour and missionary expedition to comfort the souls of discouraged liberals. Judging from the enthusiastic, overflowing crowd (who gave her a standing ovation before she even opened her mouth), a mission was just what we needed.

She spoke about the topics she loves most: politics, Texas, and politics in Texas (where it is now illegal to pay someone to shoot you). And she said given the colorful characters of The Lege, she has a "connoisseur's appreciation" of Chicago politics.

Some highlights:

Her main gripe with the Bushies is that "they are stealing the idea of America, that there is such a thing as the common good."

"Of course Bush has a chemical dependency problem. But it's not cocaine. It's Monsanto, it's Dow...."

She asserted that if you combine every fact, rumor and suspicion available about Karl Rove, it's still worse than that.

She said she wants to reach people who aren't interested in politics, thinking it has nothing to do with their lives. "Politics is the warp and woof of this society. From the minute you wake up every day, politics touches you in 1001 ways, from how deep they bury you when you die to whether the woman who colors your hair knows what she's doing to what textbooks your kids read in school -- it's all controlled by politics, and politics is all controlled by us."

She thinks it's simplistic to say that Cheney is actually in charge, but added that Bush tends to surround himself with father figures and takes their advice. And Cheney's advice is what Ivins called "one of the simplest and worst political mistakes you can make -- to only listen to people who agree with you."

On the current "Bush-hating" trend: "I don't hate him. He's a very affable person. I think his policies are a goddamn disaster. I think adults can separate those two ideas and not go batshit like all those Clinton-haters, accusing the President of rape and murder and selling drugs. Eight years of that shit!"

On the Patriot Act tour: "Take comfort in this: President Bush seems to be losing his mind. He sent John 'lost to a dead guy' Ashcroft on a charm offensive! Because I know whenever I look upon the face of Ashcroft, I think SEX!"

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