An angry Joe. Joe Hockey was once the warm and cuddly teddy bear representing a kind and caring part of the Liberal Party – the fellow who engaged in calm and jocular jousts on morning television with Kevin Rudd; the man John Howard turned to in a belated attempt to make WorkChoices seem less threatening. That Joe Hockey has now departed and been replaced by a big loud mouthed bully of a politician who has got sucked in to thinking that ignorant boisterousness is the way to further his leadership ambitions. In the Parliament as Leader of the House Mr Hockey has become an annoying nitpicker and last night on television he came across when talking about increasing private health insurance premiums as nothing more than an ignorant populist. One final thing Joe. We tubbies of the world can never make it as political leaders. Follow the example of Mike Huckabee who lost over 110lbs of lard before running for the Republican nomination. You will find the Huckabee book Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork: A 12-Stop Program to End Bad Habits and Begin a Healthy Lifestyle on Amazon. From $4.74.

And an impatient Malcolm. For Malcolm Turnbull, that other Liberal leadership contender, patience is clearly not a virtue. He seems to think he is in a sprint for the job of becoming Prime Minister when there is every likelihood that the Coalition parties are in a marathon effort to oust Kevin Rudd. Malcolm cannot resist an offer to appear on television. As I have said before, there is no point talking when no-one is listening. The ratings of The 7.30 Report are bound to crash if it keeps on with interviews like last night’s.

Lateline is late. It was good to see Lateline on television and PM on radio catching up yesterday with the Crikey report of June last year on the way that five years after the invasion by the West to restore democracy, opium production in Afghanistan has reached a record high. Now admittedly the ABC pair took things further than our initial coverage of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report. The massive increase in opium poppy production referred to by the UN is now showing up as heroin on our streets.

Somehow the absurdity of Australian military forces not actively being part of attempts to destroy the Afghan poppy industry has not become a political scandal here. The allies fighting the evil terrorists dither about the political consequences in Afghanistan of getting rid of the crops. The Taliban grow them and their heroin is sold in Australia where unfortunate addicts die. The profits of the trade return to Afghanistan to finance the bullets to shoot at Australian soldiers. It seems an odd way to fight terrorism to me.

Making of the President. For those of us old enough to have been introduced to the wonders of American presidential elections by those wonderful Making of the President books by Theodore H White there was good news on the wire this morning with an Associated Press report that neither Democratic candidate can win the party nomination through delegates won in primary and caucus contests. For Hillary Clinton cannot catch Barack Obama even if she wins every remaining contest. Barack Obama cannot win the nomination with just his pledged primary and caucus delegates either, according to the analysis by The Associated Press. That means we are in for the kind of wonderful back room dealing, which White described so excitingly, as the pair try to obtain the support of the Democratic Party hierarchy who have a say in the nominating process because of their official positions. Who knows, there might even be days of television coverage of a party convention which actually means something! That has not happened for decades.

Meanwhile, Bernard Keane drops in to write: Ron Boswell has today called for the Government to “calm down” on wheat deregulation. He laments that “for the first time in sixty years, wheat growers will be facing the market with no guaranteed buyer for their crop, no estimated pool return and no ideas as to what will replace it.” So… they’ll be in the same position as any other business? An outrage.

The Daily Reality Check

No. “The singing dingo throws in the howl” headline this morning was not a reference to John Howard. Other papers might have featured the old fellow strutting an American stage to bag his successor but the Northern Territory News was referring to the impending end to the career of the Territory’s best known canine soprano. The former Prime Minister looks like drawing an audience for some time yet if this morning’s Crikey survey of internet news sites is any guide. The Howard speech in Washington as he received the Irving Kristol Award from the American Enterprise Institute featured on more top-five-most-read story lists than any other. Kevin Rudd patching things up with Papua New Guinea with his visit to Port Moresby could only make The Australian. Elsewhere it was a day of staple fare with s-x featuring heavily as in such frightening headlines as The Advertiser‘s Mystery of the missing p-nis.

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage