Our politicians have to master many complicated briefs. Woe betide any senior figure who pops up on radio today not knowing that Kate beat Emily to win Australian Idol last night. Seriously.

Look what happened to Kim Beazley yesterday. Here’s the Telegraph‘s version:

Does Opposition Leader Kim Beazley know who Michelle Leslie is? After an appearance on radio yesterday, it appears he may not.

“What are your thoughts on what’s happened to Michelle Leslie?” Adelaide presenter Leon Byner asked Mr Beazley straight after a news break.

He stammered for several seconds.

“Oh, well, I’m glad she’s out. Michelle Lee, I think,” Mr Beazley replied, hesitantly.

After a little prompting, including a description of how Leslie had come to be a public figure in recent months, Mr Beazley cottoned on.

“Leslie? Uh . . . oh, right. I wasn’t listening, sorry.

“I thought you said Lee, not Leslie. OK, right. I think she is lucky to be out and I’m glad she is,” he said…

She’s actually called Leslie, but has worked under the nom de runway Lee. But that was enough. Kimbo’s gaffe was on the teevs last night, and then Matt Price had this to say in the Oz today:

It’s always the little things.

Watching Kim Beazley’s confusion yesterday as he fumbled and stumbled over a question about the release of Michelle Leslie was both excruciating and a reminder that potential embarrassment is only ever a brain snap away when a politician gets near a live microphone.

The… transcript is much kinder than the footage, captured by TV cameras at the Adelaide radio studio and generously screened on last night’s news services… (you can hear it at the end of this World Today report)

Price goes on to tell how:

The Opposition Leader recently admitted he’d upped his intake of news since returning to the top job. Where previously he’d rely on minder’s briefings, he is now watching the TV bulletins.

To those familiar with John Howard’s voracious media consumption, this is a staggering omission. Usually the PM has devoured all the papers before setting out on his 6am walk. He carries a portable transistor and listens to the early edition of the ABC’s influential AM program; by 8.30am, Howard has, often as not, listened to all three versions.

He tries to watch the early evening news; one TV executive left a meeting staggered by the PM’s intricate knowledge of the movement of not especially well-known reporters between networks and programs. With wife Janette, Howard is an avid watcher of the ABC’s Lateline.

He’ll occasionally scan the internet before retiring and, if unable to sleep, has been known to ring Washington-based son Richard in the middle of the night for a rundown of what’s happening in the US.

It’s agony. Truly. Nutters like me who ride the media cycle start our day with the 6:55am stock market report on Radio National and finish off at midnight with the What the Papers Say preview segment on Tony Delroy’s NightLife.

Kimbo’s got until next year to catch up on the going ons on Wisteria Lane – but here’s hoping Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane is following Dragon’s Den. You never know when he might cop a question.