Our ever-vigilant fellow blogger Jackie points out via e-mail that twangy syndicated columnist Molly Ivins, who ran scared at the prospect of debating Ann Coulter in Gene Weingarten’s humor column on Sunday for the Washington Post magazine (see below, Dec. 29), is not only a liberal, but also seems to be something of a lifter. Of quotes from other pundits, that is.

On Aug. 26, 2003, Ivins led off a column devoted to California’s gubernatorial race with this sentence: “One problem I have with Arnold Schwarzenegger is that he looks like a condom stuffed with walnuts.” (You can read the column here on Alternet.) So vivid was Ivins’s nutty simile that it was requoted everywhere, including by Ivins herself a few weeks later on CNN. Weingarten himself used it as his reason to select Molly to debate Coulter (Ivins, though, despite her evident fondness for testosterone-laden figures of speech, wouldn’t even return Weingarten’s phone call.)

Seems, however, that those walnuts were picked from a different tree from the one growing inside Ivins’s head. The condom simile was actually coined years ago by Clive James, the Australian born, UK-dwelling critic and novelist, in connection with James’s thoughts about Arnold’s “Terminator” movies. On Aug. 8, 2003, The Guardian, Britain’s leading liberal newspaper, carried a profile of Schwarzenegger that included the walnut quote, duly attributed to James. Did Ivins read The Guardian that day? Did she think, “Aw hay-ell, them Amurrican lib’ruls are so dang dumb they’ll laugh at anythin’ ah wra-ite in mah quaint Tay-xas-accent! They won’t even chay-eck!”?

We don’t know. But we do know, as Jackie also reminded us, that Ivins had a little problem with quote-lifting a few years ago. As Salon reported, in a 1995 article about Southern mores for Mother Jones magazine, Ivins borrowed extensively from Florence King’s fine Southern Ladies and Gentlemen. Ivins attributed some, but not all, of the statements to King and later apologized.

In another e-mail, Kathy Shaidle of Relapsed Catholic writes to point out factual errors in my account of her apparent censorship problems with America Online over her Kwanzaa poem (see Dec. 24 below):

“I always make fun of Kwanzaa, but the poem was a first this year. And it wasn’t my comments section but someone else’s (bressler.org?).”

I stand corrected. But Shaidle kindly adds:

“That’s a great gig you have at IWF. Those guys are the kind of feminist I’ve always been (before the movement devolved into separatist lesbianism.)”    
Thanks, Kathy. And InkReader “Bill” writes with a correction for our Maureen Dowd Watch::

“You might want to check the part where you say Arnold and Tom McClintock got three quarters of the vote. I believe it was around 61% between them. Very impressive in a Democratic state but not a mistake you would want to make in an article complaining about MoDo’s work ethic.”

Columnist/radio personality Austin Bay writes to inform InkReaders of his own tongue-in-cheek take (via NPR) on Saddam’s tongue-depressor:

“A note to Ms. Hays: I read her comment on the [Charles] Krauthammer WaPO column about Saddam’s capture. I’d like to call her attention to a commentary I did for NPR’s Morning Edition (recorded Dec. 16 and run on Dec 19) that wanted to give an Oscar for “video promoting justice and peace” to the Saddam tongue depressor tv clip. I think it’s on the NPR website for Dec 19, playable through Window MediaPlayer.”