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Monday, February 06, 2006

This One's For Hube!
Canada will inaugurate its first Conservative prime minister in 13 years today as Stephen Harper takes the oath of office.

An economist and policy wonk from Alberta, Mr. Harper was a bit of a tough sell in the charisma department. Hostile reporters traveling with him even christened him "Data" after the android in the Star Trek series that seeks to learn human emotions.

Faced with an image problem, some in the Harper camp decided to turn his cool, rational personality into a plus by courting what it called "the nerd vote" through Internet blogs. Rondi Adamson, a contributor to the conservative Western Standard magazine, let it be known that Mr. Harper was indeed a devoted Star Trek fan -- "like, huge, and it has to be the classic series, from the 1960s -- none of that Next Generation, Deep Space Nine crap,'' Ms. Adamson wrote. A source close to the Tory leader was quoted on the Standard's blog as saying Mr. Harper is such a Trekkie that "he has seen every episode several times and even quotes from them."

The revelation set off a contentious debate in the blogosphere, with liberals arguing Mr. Harper should be more attracted to the Star Wars movies rather than the benevolent one-galaxy government of Star Trek's Federation. "Star Wars at its essence is about the triumph of the rugged individual over tremendous repression imposed by an evil big government," wrote one blogger. "It has Jedi Harper written all over it."

But blogger Jeffrey Simpson had the last word when he seconded Ms. Adamson by noting "the original Star Trek was much less focused on the Federation and Star Fleet as a whole. Kirk and the like didn't become good public servants until the movies and even then they were court-martialed" for being too independent.

Now that Mr. Harper is safely installed as prime minister, I doubt there will be much more to the debate over his TV viewing preferences. Still, I'm told no one should be completely surprised if in private meetings Mr. Harper sometimes refers to his Liberal opponents as the Romulans and his socialist New Democratic opposition as the Klingons, both stock villains of the original Star Trek series.

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