Bellingham Mayor offers Daily Show host key to city

by Sam Taylor, Bellingham Herald

ount Vernon might be planning to give Glenn Beck the key to the city, but Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike thinks the city to the north can do better.

Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's satirical news program "The Daily Show," is being offered the same honor here, and Pike says he thinks it's appropriate.

Pike and Stewart graduated from the same high school in New Jersey, though they didn't know each other, the mayor said.

The mayor's invitation comes after Mount Vernon Mayor Bud Norris announced that conservative Fox News commentator and radio show host Glenn Beck would come Sept. 26 to receive the key to that city.

Norris' decision has caused a heated debate in the Skagit County community, including protests and six of the seven City Council members refusing to attend the event with Beck. But tickets to the event with the national figure sold out less than a day after becoming available.

Beck is a native of Mount Vernon and graduated from Bellingham's Sehome High School.

"The mayor of Mount Vernon is free to do whatever he wants, but I think Glenn Beck is out of touch with, what I think, certainly most of the constituents I talk to believe," Pike said. "I actually think Jon Stewart does a lot better reporting."

Pike says he sent both an e-mail through Comedy Central's Web site as well as a follow-up letter about his invitation. He's not optimistic about hearing back, however.

"To be honest, I don't think that I will, but I did offer an inducement that we'd try to track down Stephen Colbert's eagle," Pike said, referring to "Stephen Jr.," which was named in honor of the satirical Comedy Central "Colbert Report" host that has been sighted traveling in the area.

Meanwhile, some locals are supporting Pike's invitation to Stewart on the Internet.

A "twitition" - a petition using similar social networking techniques, and a very same look, as Twitter - is being circulated by Scott Pierce, a local social networking consultant.

"I just wanted to be able to capture the grassroots feedback," Pierce said by phone, "and then arm the city with it."

Pike says the city isn't officially involved as of now but "thought it might inject a little more levity into our civic dialog."

article originally published at Bellingham Herald.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey