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Come here and cuddle, all you public-figure valentines.

Mmmm, smell that bread line. Sure, things have rarely been tougher, but at least Interstate Bakeries emerged from bankruptcy last week (Plog: "Twinkie the Kid lives," February 3). That means your dollars for Ding Dongs have saved Interstate during its long dark night of the soul. Americans spent four years holding their collective breath, waiting and wondering whether their children and their children's children would be able to put Dolly Madison chocolate doughnuts and Hostess Ho Hos between slices of Wonder Bread for lunch. That future seems assured, along with the employment of about 23,000 people nationwide. So we feel pretty good about picking up a box of individually wrapped, white-stuff-filled cupcakes and passing them out to a few Valentine's Day crushes in the news.

Cook Tease

Kansas state Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook is such a tease. She got us hooked on her cockeyed "fair and factual" news site, Kansas Liberty, then told us that we'd have to pay for it. In better financial times, $2 a week to brush up against Cook would be a bargain (Plog: "Kansas Liberty ain't free. It costs two bucks ... a week," Justin Kendall, February 3). But you just can't satisfy a hot Republican ideologue on a journalist's salary.

Media Couple of the Year

Even the siren call of Mary Pilcher Cook can't lure a true romantic from the love story of Kansas City Star publisher Mark Zieman and his wife, the medium-talented and now-retired columnist Rhonda Chriss Lokeman. Last week, news broke that police had arrested Lokeman on January 1 after she refused to take a breathalyzer test (Plog: "Ex-Star columnist busted for DUI and driving without a tire," Justin Kendall, February 3).

Lokeman filed suit January 7 against the Missouri director of revenue, fighting the revocation of her license after she refused the test. On January 29, a judge issued an order saying Lokeman could keep her license for now. Neither Lokeman's attorney nor Zieman would comment on the case — including how Lokeman's arrest had failed to make the paper until someone else got hold of the records.

Later in the week, Zieman sent Star staffers a memo warning that a fourth round of layoffs would hit the daily (Plog: "Mark Zieman's bleak memo to Star staffers," February 5).

We eagerly await the Officer and a Gentleman-style ending, in which Lokeman, forced to work as a press operator, is carried from her place on the line by Zieman, accompanied by the applause of job-starved Star employees. Love, lift them up where they belong.

Blunt Buddies

Gay-rights advocates aren't blowing kisses at some of the candidates vying to represent middle America in the U.S. Senate. writer Michael A. Jones notes that Rep. Roy Blunt and Rep. Jerry Moran tallied zeroes on the Human Rights Campaign's scorecard (David Martin's Plog: "Senate hopefuls get raspberries on human rights," February 4).

Blunt represents the Springfield, Missouri, area in the U.S. House. He is reportedly asking fellow Republicans to support his bid for the seat held by Sen. Kit Bond, who is retiring.

Moran has served western Kansas in the U.S. House since 1997. He wants to take over for Sen. Sam Brownback when Brownback leaves the Senate to run for governor.

Blunt and Moran earned their zeroes in part by voting against a bill to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and by not sponsoring a bill to repeal the military's don't-ask, don't-tell policy. Of course, maybe that kind of thing turns some of you on. Sickos.

Merritt, Badge

What with young and gifted and, apparently, not very bright Michael Phelps trading his Corn Flakes sponsorship for a hit off a bong, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Michael Merritt picked a good week to get busted for smoking reefer. KMBC Channel 9 reported last week that Merritt was arrested in Orlando, Florida, after a police officer caught him smoking a joint (Plog: "Chiefs player you've never heard of busted for weed," Justin Kendall, February 5). According to police, Merritt had 3 grams of bud on him and tried to swallow a "brown cigar-like object" before a cop made him spit it out. (Read the police report at Soon-to-be-famous quote: "All this for a little bit of weed?" What do you want, Mike, 14 gold medals?

Shrinking Johnson

Meanwhile, Chiefs running back and all-around sensitive guy Larry Johnson would like his ticket punched, please (Plog: "King Pink wants out of KC," Justin Kendall, February 4). "They can easily release me. They can easily trade me ... . No complaints about it," Johnson told KCSP 610 Sports' Chris and Cowboy Show, in what the station pimped as "breaking news." Well, not really. But if Johnson really goes, this is how we want to remember him. He's so beautiful when he's fucking crazy.

When Harry Met Haley

Speaking of the Chiefs, KSHB Channel 41's Jack Harry ended last week on a sour note when his admittedly unconfirmed big scoop turned out to be wrong, wrong, wrong. Mike Shanahan will not be the next coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Kansas City Star reported February 6 that the Chiefs had hired Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley. In response, the KC sports blogosphere opened its retractable dome to debate the merits of signing a much younger Super Bowl loser (Plog: "Chiefs hire Haley; Jack Harry wrong," Justin Kendall, February 6).

Oh, It's So Big

Finally, we turn our beer goggles on Chris Koster, the new Missouri attorney general who wants to be your eye candy. Now that Koster holds statewide office, the former Cass County prosecutor is making sure that his beauty and steely eyes get the attention they deserve. As David Martin pointed out in his Plog entry ("Koster: 18% more awesome than Obama," February 5), Koster's official Web site features rotating images of him that are 18 percent larger than those of President Barack Obama on the White House Web site's front page — itself hardly the model of modesty. The main image on the attorney general's site is 2.6 million square pixels. The Obama centerpiece is a mere 2.2 million square pixels.

Visitors to the site may also gaze upon a smaller image of Koster taking his oath of office. Wrongdoers and those who swoon easily, beware!

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