MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Joining us now to help read some of your e-mail, senior producer Steve Proffitt.
STEVE PROFFITT: Hi, Madeleine. And rarely, rarely have we gotten so many outraged letters about a guest on our program.
BRAND: Okay. I'm taking a wild guest here. Grover Norquist?
PROFFITT: You're right. He is the president of Americans for Tax Reform and he's a friend and colleague of Karl Rove.
BRAND: Rove, of course, long-time political strategist for the president. He announced yesterday that he'll be stepping down from his White House post at the end of the month.
PROFFITT: Listener Bernadine Zeny(ph) says Norquist is an example of what she calls a presstitute. This is a guy, she writes, who wants to take government and drown it in a bath tub. And Madeleine, the beat goes on.
BRAND: How can you provide a megaphone for such a disgusting man? That's listener Allen Ratelini(ph).
PROFFITT: And he's a discredited, slush-fund bribery operator, writes Stuart Weiner(ph) of Boston.
BRAND: In the interview, Norquist was asked if he thought one of the reasons Rove was leaving might be ongoing questions about his role in leaking the identity of former CIA agent Valerie Plame. And here's what he said.
Mr. GROVER NORQUIST (President, Americans for Tax Reform): It's easier for him to leave having been exonerated in both judicial and public opinion in terms of those issues. And so now he can, on his own, say now it's time to move on.
PROFFITT: That statement caused listener Amy Schwagger(ph) to jump to her keyboard. In what universe has Karl Rove been exonerated?
BRAND: Well, he wasn't specifically exonerated but Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, refused to press charges.
PROFFITT: And Madeleine, there was some support, some letters in support of Norquist. Actually there was one letter, sort of. A listener in Glouster, Ohio reacted when you used these words.
BRAND: But first, Bush's Brain is leaving the building.
PROFFITT: Now, that phrase, Bush's Brain, of course, is the title of a well-regarded book about Karl Rove by James Moore and Wayne Slater. But John Albern(ph) didn't like it.
BRAND: It's the same left-wing rhetoric I expect from NPR, Albern writes. And continues: public radio should get no public assistance for the slime trail you leave.
PROFFITT: Wow. Let's change the subject.
BRAND: Yes, let's.
PROFFITT: Plus and minus from listeners on Mike Pesca's report about a proposal to ban the use of a word that can refer to a female dog.
BRAND: The B-word.
PROFFITT: Yes. Kurt Meyer of Indianapolis thought Mike's story put a humorous face on a potentially terrifying subject.
BRAND: But Catherine Fink of Los Angeles was insulted by what she saw as our mocking treatment of the story and of the New York City councilwoman who is sponsoring it.
PROFFITT: Finally, reaction to our report last week on South Carolina and New Hampshire. They're moving up the dates of their presidential primaries.
BRAND: Terry Payton(ph) of Saganaw(ph), Minnesota suggests why not just move up the date of the election?
PROFFITT: Hey, thanks for that idea. And thanks to all who wrote us. It's easy to do.
BRAND: Just go to our Web site, npr.org. Click on the Contact Us link.
And NPR's Steve Proffitt, thank you.
PROFFITT: You're welcome, Madeleine.
BRAND: And now my brain is leaving the building.
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