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Newfoundland ex-pat makes waves pairing politicians with their cartoon doubles – The Guardian

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An effort to shake off some homesickness led Adam DuBourdieu to mix pop culture and provincial politics — namely, taking politicians involved in this election and matching them with their visual counterparts on “The Simpsons.”

Originally from Kippens on the province’s west coast, DuBourdieu, 30, moved to Edmonton, Alta., just before the COVID-19 pandemic set in.

As with many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, he experienced homesickness in the months that followed the move.

A keen follower of local politics when living in the province, DuBourdieu set about combatting his traveller’s lament by having some fun with the upcoming provincial election.

Combining his love for “The Simpsons” and politics, he matched the politicians running in the election with the Simpsons character he saw as their cartoon counterparts.

“I always loved watching ‘The Simpsons,’” DuBourdieu. “I watched it with my dad.”

Some matchups were tough, while others were easy fits, such as the NDP’s Jim Dinn, a former schoolteacher, and his match with Principal Skinner.

“You can’t take yourself too seriously. Being a teacher, that’s par for the course,” Dinn said of that character match.

Dinn has seen the rather large social media thread containing the pictures.

He said that as a teacher, he learned long ago that you have to have a sense of humour, and it’s a lesson he’s taken with him to politics. Seeing the thread, he took it in good fun.

He said it could be worse. It could turn into a meme like a recent picture of United States Senator Bernie Sanders.

“Let’s have a laugh with it,” said Dinn. “It’s a good thing. It’s a bit of good fun.”


Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie and Springfield nuclear plant owner Monty Burns were paired in DuBourdieu’s character breakdown. Photo courtesy Twitter
Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie and Springfield nuclear plant owner Monty Burns were paired in DuBourdieu’s character breakdown. Photo courtesy Twitter

 


The result was a 47-part thread on Twitter filled with pictures of the politicians and their characters side by side. It is a mixture of retiring MHAs, incumbents and party leaders of all political stripes.

“The Simpsons” and politics have a bit of history. Across its 32 seasons, the show has mixed humour and politics.

The show seemingly predicted the start of the United States presidency of Donald J. Trump, and the Lisa Simpson presidency that followed him.

Coincidentally, Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans is paired with the presidential Lisa.

The relationship, however, between “The Simpsons” and the political arena doesn’t stop at a coincidental presidential prediction.

The show has often tackled topics of the day, such as same-sex marriage and gun control, and it has often been accused of having a liberal bias. Springfield’s Mayor Quimby is a regularly appearing character, and DuBourdieu saw him as a perfect match for Conception Bay East-Bell Island incumbent David Brazil.


NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Bette Midler were paired together during the exercise. Midler made a cameo on the show in Season 4. Photo courtesy Twitter
NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Bette Midler were paired together during the exercise. Midler made a cameo on the show in Season 4. Photo courtesy Twitter

Homer Simpson — coupled with Topsail-Paradise MHA Paul Dinn — once fought former U.S. president George H.W. Bush after the two became neighbours. Former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford have also made cameo appearances on the show.

DuBourdieu tabbed Ford as the right match with Mount Pearl North MHA Jim Lester.

“Politics has always been in ‘The Simpsons,’ and Newfoundland politics has some characters,” said DuBourdieu.

Harbour Grace-Port de Grave MHA Pam Parsons knew at once who voiced Bart Simpsons’ former babysitter, Laura Powers.

“That’s the one where Darlene from Roseanne voiced the character. Sara Gilbert,” she said.

Like other children of the ’80s and early ’90s, Parsons grew up in the early years of “The Simpsons.” She saw the show move from animated shorts on “The Tracy Ullman Show” to a pop culture phenomenon on Fox.

“Growing up as a child, I certainly watched ‘The Simpsons.’ I loved Bart Simpson. I think we all did,” said Parsons. “I even had the little toys that McDonald’s was putting out.”


Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote found her Simpsons doppelganger in Mrs. Hoover. Photo courtesy Twitter
Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote found her Simpsons doppelganger in Mrs. Hoover. Photo courtesy Twitter

 


Parsons is one of 10 women featured in the long Twitter thread. Of the 10, nine are incumbent MHAs and their animated doppelgangers. The remaining one is Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote.

She was paired with Springfield Elementary second-grade teacher Mrs. Hoover.

“I like that (Dubourdieu) was non-partisan,” said Parsons, who appreciated the comedic break it offered. “I got a good chuckle out of it.”

The response to the sizeable thread has been favourable online.

It was something that surprised DuBourdieu at first.

Since it went online, there have been dozens of interactions between politicians and the public. People have marvelled at how perfect some of the comparisons are, such as independent MHA Eddie Joyce being matched with oil tycoon Rich Texan.

“It is something people are familiar with,” DuBourdieu said about why he chose to use “The Simpsons” as a reference point.

Liberal candidate George Murphy tweeted that he thought of himself as the lovable barfly Barney Gumble instead of Police Chief Wiggum, the character he is attached to.

Other candidates, such as Progressive Conservative candidate Kristina Ennis and the NDP’s Jenn Deon, have expressed interest in being connected to their Simpsons doubles.

Lake Melville NDP candidate Amy Hogan even went ahead and did her own. It was Jerri Mackleberry, the mother of notable twins Sherri and Terri.

“I think I’m probably the twins, Sherri and Terri’s mom, Jerri. It’s is the purple hair and the glasses,” Hogan tweeted.


Monorail salesman Lyle Lanley made the perfect visual double for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey. Photo courtesy Twitter
Monorail salesman Lyle Lanley made the perfect visual double for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey. Photo courtesy Twitter

 


DuBourdieu pledged to do a third part of the thread if there is enough interest.

In the days since it was posted, a link to the thread made its way around the Progressive Conservative email chain.

“We got a good kick out of it,” said Conservative MHA Barry Petten. “You can’t help but laugh.”

The Conception Bay South representative readily admitted he wasn’t much of a Simpsons watcher and had little background on Superintendent Chalmers or why he was paired with him.

Still, Petten said he appreciated the work and the humour it brought to the election.

“It’s all good humour,” he said.

Looking back on the process and the result of his humourous entry into the Newfoundland and Labrador political scene, DuBourdieu has no regrets about piecing everything together.

Some comparisons were easy, while others required a bit more thought, he said, and he learned a little along the way, namely, how male-dominated this province’s legislature is.

As the province rolls toward the election on Feb. 13, DuBourdieu will watch from his home in Alberta.

In the meantime, he is glad he got to contribute to the run-up in some way.

“I’m glad I did it and I hope people get a good chuckle out of it,” said DuBourdieu.

Nicholas Mercer is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering central Newfoundland for SaltWire Network.

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Speculation Grows Around Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro as Potential Running Mate for Kamala Harris

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With President Biden ending his re-election bid, there’s growing chatter that Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro could be a potential running mate for Vice President Kamala Harris.

Why it matters: Shapiro, who’s positioned himself as a moderate Democrat, has many advantages for a national ticket, including representing a pivotal swing state that former President Trump’s campaign has indicated will be central to their campaign strategy.

The former state lawmaker and attorney general has decades of political experience, and some swing voters view Shapiro as Democrats’ next rising star.

The big picture: Shapiro is among several Democratic governors getting attention for the VP spot, as well as North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

Some Democratic officials and operatives have even floated Shapiro’s name as a presidential contender should delegates and party members decide Harris isn’t the strongest opponent to take on Trump. As of Sunday, no major Democratic lawmaker had indicated their intention to challenge Harris for the party’s nomination.

Reality check: Democrats are unlikely to leapfrog Harris in favour of another candidate for several reasons — including the millions of dollars held in the Biden-Harris war chest that could easily be given to her, but not to any other potential candidate.

Catch up quick: President Biden announced in a letter posted on his X account Sunday he’s stepping aside as the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2024 presidential contest and endorsing Harris.

Biden, who has been in Rehoboth, Delaware, since last week recovering from COVID-19, faced intense pressure to withdraw from the race following his shaky debate performance on June 27 against Trump. Harris is emerging as the leading contender weeks before the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 19, but some advisers worry the VP’s record may not outweigh her years-long battle with public image and low favorability ratings, Axios’ Avery Lotz reports.

What they’re saying: “I will do everything I can to help elect Kamala Harris as the 47th President of the United States,” Shapiro said in a post on X Sunday.

“I’ve known Kamala Harris for nearly two decades — we’ve both been prosecutors, we’ve both stood up for the rule of law, we’ve both fought for the people and delivered results,” Shapiro wrote in a statement. “She has served this country honorably as Vice President and she is ready to be President.” When speculation was swirling before Biden stepped aside, Shapiro said he was committed to staying put as Pennsylvania governor.

His spokesperson Manuel Bonder told Axios earlier this month that any scenario of the governor replacing Biden or becoming Harris’ VP pick was “baseless speculation” and a “distraction” that doesn’t help Democrats “defeat Donald Trump at the ballot box.”

Zoom in: Shapiro, a first-term governor, has navigated the state’s divided government and could appeal to constituents in Philadelphia’s purple suburbs.

Shapiro has been outspoken about the ongoing war in Gaza and was credited for his leadership in getting I-95 reopened in less than two weeks after a deadly collapse.

Between the lines: St. Joseph’s professor emeritus and political commentator Randall Miller tells Axios that Shapiro is better off remaining at the helm in Pennsylvania and positioning himself to run in the next cycle. He could decimate future political prospects by joining a potentially “sinking ship.” “He’s very independent, very shrewd,” Miller said. “He has a controlled, directed ambition. He doesn’t need to do it.”

What’s next: Harris will not automatically pick up Biden’s delegates, meaning her road ahead has to focus on accumulating a majority at the DNC.

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Kamala Harris: A California Political Odyssey

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SACRAMENTO, California — Understanding Vice President Kamala Harris’s political journey requires tracing her roots back to California. This backstory gains renewed significance amid the Democratic Party’s election-year turmoil, with increasing calls for President Joe Biden to step aside and discussions about Harris’s potential to secure the party’s backing and defeat Donald Trump in a presidential race.

Pressure on Biden intensified this week when California Rep. Adam Schiff, a close ally of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, publicly suggested it was time for Biden to “pass the torch.”

The Rise of Kamala Harris

California is where Harris’s political journey began, leading to her historic election as the first Black, Asian American, and female vice president. It’s also where she developed her political acumen and first encountered the critiques that continue to follow her.

“There’s the Kamala Harris people think they know and now there’s the one they will get to know in an entirely different way,” said Brian Brokaw, a former adviser to Harris based in Sacramento.

For those who have followed Harris’s career from her early days as San Francisco district attorney to her tenure as state attorney general, here are seven key insights that highlight her trajectory and her impact on the national stage.

1. Early Career Boost from a San Francisco Kingmaker

Harris’s political rise paralleled that of Gov. Gavin Newsom, a prominent Biden surrogate and potential future presidential contender. Both Harris and Newsom received early career support from Willie Brown, a former California Assembly speaker and San Francisco mayor. Brown, who dated Harris in the mid-1990s, appointed her and Newsom to key city boards, giving them footholds in San Francisco politics.

Harris and Newsom also tapped into the same networks of Bay Area wealth and enlisted the same consulting firm for their statewide campaigns. However, Newsom has maintained closer ties to area power players like Pelosi and the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

2. The Death Penalty Stance That Shaped Her Career

Harris’s decision not to seek the death penalty for the killer of San Francisco police officer Isaac Espinoza in 2004, just months into her tenure as district attorney, was a defining moment. While consistent with her campaign stance against capital punishment, the timing of her announcement was politically risky and drew significant backlash, including a public rebuke from Feinstein at Espinoza’s funeral.

This episode has been a recurring issue in Harris’s political career, resurfacing during her 2020 presidential bid and likely to be used against her in future campaigns.

3. A Different Legislative Approach

Unlike Biden, who is known for his legislative deal-making, Harris has shown less enthusiasm for engaging in legislative battles. During her tenure as California attorney general, she avoided the Capitol debates on police accountability measures, focusing instead on policies she could implement independently, such as mandating body cameras for special agents and creating an online criminal justice portal.

However, she has championed specific legislative priorities, such as anti-truancy measures and efforts to combat maternal mortality, especially among Black women.

4. Limited Experience Running Against Republicans

Harris’s electoral challenges have rarely come from Republicans, particularly in federal races. Her most significant contest was her first race for California attorney general in 2010, a close battle against moderate Republican Steve Cooley, which she won after a last-minute surge.

Her subsequent races, including her 2016 Senate campaign, were against fellow Democrats, giving her limited experience in the kind of partisan battles that characterize today’s political landscape.

5. Tackling Student Debt

As California attorney general, Harris took on for-profit colleges like Corinthian Colleges, accusing them of misleading students and saddling them with unsustainable debt. This work laid the foundation for the Biden administration’s student loan relief efforts, with Harris playing a key role in announcing significant debt cancellations for former Corinthian students.

6. Suing Fossil Fuel Companies

Harris frequently sued fossil fuel companies during her tenure as attorney general, securing significant settlements and launching investigations into their practices. Her stance against fracking, which drew criticism from then-President Trump during the 2020 campaign, highlighted her environmental priorities but also created a conflict with Biden’s more moderate approach to energy policy.

7. A Bicoastal Vice President

Though she began her political career in the Bay Area, Harris has since become a resident of Los Angeles’s affluent Brentwood neighborhood. She regularly returns to California, balancing her duties as vice president with visits to her home state, where she maintains strong connections to Democratic donors and supporters.

Looking Ahead

As the political landscape shifts, Harris’s California roots and her experiences will continue to shape her approach and influence her political future. Whether she steps up to lead the Democratic Party in a presidential race or continues to support Biden’s administration, Harris’s journey from San Francisco to the White House remains a critical narrative in understanding her role on the national stage

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Is Ivanka Trump plotting a return to politics

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If you’re a woman freaking out about the imminent possibility of another Trump term, don’t despair quite yet. Yes, Project 2025 is hoping to turn the US into a Christian nationalist country. Yes, JD Vance, Donald Trump’s running partner, has been primed for the job by Peter Thiel, a man who has mused that women having the vote is problematic. Yes, experts are raising the alarm that “a Trump-Vance administration will be the most dangerous administration for abortion and reproductive freedom in this country’s history.” But it’s not all doom and gloom: there may well be a beacon of light and female liberation coming into the White House as well. Signs suggest Ivanka Trump is considering a return to politics. Ladies and gentlewomen, the patron saint of female empowerment may selflessly serve us once again!

To be clear: the younger Trump hasn’t explicitly said that she’s interested in another go at being Daddy’s special adviser. In fact, she’s spent the last few years getting as far away from politics as possible. A renaissance woman, Trump has sold everything from handbags to shoes to real estate – but her most valuable product has always been herself. The former first daughter has always been very careful about protecting her personal brand. And, for a while, that meant staying well clear of her father.

With Donald Trump now formally the nominee, it can be hard to remember just how bad things looked for the former president a couple of years ago. After an underwhelming performance by GOP candidates in the 2022 midterm elections, a lot of Trump’s former acolytes started turning on him. High-profile Republicans complained that Trump was a drag on the party. Even the New York Post, once Trump’s personal Pravda, thought he was a joke: “TRUMPTY DUMPTY”, a post-midterm front page crowed. And then, of course, there were Trump’s mountains of legal problems. A lot of people wrote Trump off.

Ivanka was noticeably not by her father’s side during his hours of need. The moment that Donald got kicked out of the White House, Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, followed him to Florida but kept a safe distance from the political goings on at Mar-a-Lago. Can’t have an insurrection ruining one’s image, after all.

A company called College Hunks Hauling Junk helped them clear out their DC mansion and the pair decamped to Miami’s “Billionaire Bunker”. They didn’t go empty-handed, of course. The couple reported between $172m and $640m in outside income while working in the White House and Saudi Arabia gave Kushner’s private equity firm $2bn to invest. Enough to keep them busy for a while.

For a long time, Javanka stayed fairly under the radar. Ivanka Trump would pop up in headlines now and again in Fun-loving Mother and Caring Philanthropist mode. Behold, a flattering headline about Ivanka helping deploy medical supplies and meals to Ukraine! Look: here’s an Instagram slideshow of the whole family skiing! Now here’s a fun picture of the Javanka family at the flashy Ambani wedding!

A cynic might say these carefully curated images were designed to humanize Trump and erase her messy political past. Aiding this was a consistent drip-drip of mysterious sources telling the press that Javanka had no desire whatsoever to return to politics. Even this year, when Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee, media “sources” kept insisting that the former first daughter wanted nothing to do with the White House. “She is very happy, living her best life,” a source told People in March. “She left politics totally in the rearview mirror and so this time around, even if her dad is the leading Republican candidate, she basically doesn’t care. She told him when he said he was going to run again that she didn’t want to be involved.”

Mary Trump, the woman who has made a career out of being Donald Trump’s disgruntled niece after a legal battle over her inheritance, has been blunt about why Ivanka seems to have retreated from politics. “I think Ivanka made very clear that she doesn’t get enough out of [her relationship with her father] any more,” Mary Trump told CNN at the end of May. “She’s barely been heard from for months; she could not be bothered to show up at [her father’s] trial [over falsifying business records].”

As the election inches closer, however, Ivanka seems to have reassessed the value of her relationship with her father. In early May, the media outlet Puck reported that she was “warming to the idea of trying to be helpful again … She’s not like ‘Hell no’ any more”. A similar report from Business Insider soon followed: according to a “friend of Ivanka”, the entrepreneur wasn’t ruling politics out. A spokesperson for the couple told Puck that this was all nonsense but rumours of a political comeback kept mounting.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, Ivanka jumped back into the spotlight with an appearance on Lex Fridman’s highly influential podcast. (Fridman has more than 4 million subscribers on YouTube.) In this she opened up about how working at the White House was “the most extraordinary growth experience of my life” and how privileged she was to have been asked by her father to help so many people. During the conversation, she also carefully recapped some of (what’s she’s claimed as) her key achievements in the White House, such as boosting the child tax credit. It wasn’t so much an interview as it was a hype project by a friend. It felt lot like it was teasing Trump’s return to political life should her dad be re-elected.

So, after years in the Floridian wilderness, has the Maga Princess officially returned to the family fold? It’s a tad too early to tell but it increasingly looks that way. As one would expect, Trump has spent the last few days close to her father after the attempt on his life: she’s very much thrown herself into the role of doting daughter again.

And while Ivanka has been absent from the Republican national convention so far, she and Jared are expected to be at Donald’s side on Thursday when he formally accepts the party’s nomination. And if that happens and images of Ivanka standing next to her father hit the headlines, it won’t just be a celebratory photoshoot – it’ll be a preview of Trump’s second term.

 

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