US Election Diary

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*The latest victims of Sarah Palin's bold campaign against the "liberal media elite" are the hard-working editorial staff of Newsweek. Supporters of the Alaska Governor have jammed the airwaves complaining that a close-up photograph of Palin's face on this week's cover wasn't sufficiently "retouched" before publication. As a result, readers were able to make out several facial imperfections, including a chipped tooth, a barely-covered spot, wrinkles, and the beginnings of an ever-so-slightly unladylike moustache on her top lip. The right-wing Fox TV news station devoted much airtime to the issue, describing the photograph as "ridiculously unfair" and a "clear slap in the face of Sarah Palin". They are particularly upset that Barack Obama's most recent cover shot for the magazine was assiduously air-brushed – making him look "presidential and flawless".

*It's not just Joe Biden who is getting irked with John McCain describing himself as a maverick. "You can't call yourself a maverick when all you've ever been is a sidekick," the Democrat's vice-presidential candidate moaned yesterday, But for an 82-year-old female resident of San Antonio, it's an altogether more personal slight. Terrellita Maverick's family has a long association with liberalism, and the octogenarian is adamant that the Republican nominee "is in no way a maverick, in upper case or lower case". She told The New York Times: "It's just incredible — the nerve! — to suggest that he's not part of that Republican herd. Every time we hear it, all my children and I and all my family shrink a little and say, 'Oh, my God, he said it again'."

*Is this year's US election running off a West Wing script? It's been a recurring question as a neophyte Democrat congressman from a minority background (Matt Santos/Barack Obama) pitted against a veteran Republican senator with a maverick streak (Arnold Vinick/John McCain). And yesterday British politicians packed into a Westminster meeting room to hear not a senior Republican or Democratic strategist, but Ron Silver, the actor who plays political strategist Bruno Gianelli on the hit show. Mr Silver said the parallels "are kind of spooky in a way", but admitted it was hardly surprising. "A lot of people who were writing for The West Wing were political operatives," the 62-year-old actor said. "They wanted people with that kind of knowledge, so it smelled and tasted like the real thing."