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Pretty Boy Lopez is in trouble

Anyone who's been keeping an unbiased track of Venezuelan electoral politics already knows why Leopoldo Lopez won't be able to run for office again: He's a plain little plug-ugly thug, with a lengthy history of violence. But trust the lamestream media whores to spin it a full 180 degrees from the truth...

Leopoldo Lopez won his last election as mayor of an affluent Caracas district with 81 percent of the vote. Women supporters mobbed him at a recent Mother's Day appearance, posing for photos while he and his wife handed out roses.

But the popular politician's plan to challenge incumbent Juan Barreto, mayor of Greater Caracas, later this year could be thwarted by 26 criminal charges against him — accusations Lopez says were trumped up by an operative of President Hugo Chavez.

He's not alone.

Nearly 400 others — mostly opposition politicians — have been barred from running for office in state and municipal elections in November by Venezuela's top anti-corruption official, a close Chavez ally.

Comptroller General Clodosbaldo Russian made public what critics call a "blacklist" of candidates in February. Though none has been formally charged with a crime, Russian argues that law allows him to prohibit all 386 from running for office while he investigates charges ranging from nepotism to illegally awarding public contracts.

Opposition leaders say they have never seen such a bold attempt to block their candidacies since Chavez took office nearly a decade ago. But as soaring crime and double-digit inflation eat away at Chavez's popularity, many say his allies may be having a harder time riding his coattails into office.

"Chavista candidates can no longer expect to win simply because they're on the president's bandwagon," said Luis Vicente Leon, a political analyst at the Caracas-based polling firm Datanalisis. "The list takes opposition leaders who pose threats in some regions out of the way."

Item #1: Datanalisis is hardly a credible source. Oil Wars has exposed it more than once. So has Venezuelanalysis. Unfortunately, the AP doesn't feel compelled to fact-check; it's content to play stenographer and portray this fraudulent firm as genuine and impartial, when it is neither.

Item #2: High crime rates are Chavez's fault? Oh yeah, right. Venezuela never had crime before he came into office. And isn't it the municipal mayors' job to see to policing? It was until recently, when Chavecito finally decided it was high time to do what these incompetent, crooked bozos could not.

Item #3: Pretty Boy Leo's own record isn't exactly good, either. Not only is he incompetent at policing (the rich municipality of Chacao is also prone to crime, much of it perpetrated, hilariously, by its own police), he's also a criminal himself.

Item #4: Luis Vicente Leon can thunder all he likes about Chavista coattail riders, and one might even concede that there are some (though one will note, as Leon won't, that the Venezuelan public itself is doing the heavy lifting when it comes to weeding them out). But why is he so silent about the "popularity" of Pretty Boy being due solely to his anti-Chavez bias, in a rich neighborhood where such sentiments are a given because Chavecito is in the habit of sicking the taxman on the very people who are the most able to pay, and the least inclined to?

Item #5: In any neighborhood where the voters are populous enough to really matter in the grand scheme of things, Pretty Boy's cute widdle face isn't enough to do it for him. Neither is his Harvard education (which doesn't cut ice with me, either, since Dubya also went to Harvard, and we all know how bright HE is.) And definitely neither is his obvious contempt for the lower rungs of the income ladder. Unlike his co-religionist Henrique Capriles Radonsky, Pretty Boy hasn't even made the effort to show up and campaign in their neighborhoods. Maybe that's because Capriles Radonsky had a grand total of 25 followers in tow (uh, that would be his choir, the one he preaches to), while the residents just thought it was hysterically funny that he was now trying to win them over after his own part in the coup that temporarily destabilized the country and deprived it of a leader those same people elected.

Frankly, I don't see Pretty Boy's real chances being all that great. His popularity doesn't extend beyond the borders of eastern Caracas, and it doesn't take an electoral commission to disqualify him as a candidate; one look at his record will suffice.

Now, when do you suppose the AP will report that?