The real cause of the Huckabee surge?
AN A-list celebrity endorsement can lift a presidential campaign. But Chuck Norris' seal of approval can kick-start the Airbus.So now you know. Norris is something of a neighbor of mine by Texas country standards anyway. His Lone Wolf Ranch is a few miles away just on the other side of Navasota, from Washington. But as the name of his place implies, he kind of stick to his own company. Friends who have met him do speak highly of him.
Take Mike Huckabee's political efforts, for example. A month ago, few even knew that Huckabee was a former governor of Arkansas, let alone a Republican candidate for president. Then karate-movie tough guy Norris -- with a cult following big enough to populate three continents -- announced he was in Huckabee's camp. (They share evangelical Christian views.)
Suddenly, Huckabee became the presidential example of tough-guy cool. You thought Fred Thompson was going to be the law-and-order candidate? He was looking like a worn-out hound dog Wednesday night as Huckabee strode into the debate with the still buffed-up, 67-year-old Norris by his side.
"If you are going after those evildoers, you want Norris with you," said longtime Democratic strategist Rick Taylor, only half-joking. "That's how I look at it. Norris for secretary of Defense. I feel safer already."
To understand the Chuck Norris phenomenon (and why it's a factor in Huckabee's popularity surge), you've got to be hip, Web-savvy or age 13.
As strange as it may seem, the Norris cult seems to have begun in the generally liberal precincts of late-night television when NBC's Conan O'Brien began satirizing Norris' famous TV character, "Walker, Texas Ranger," in 2004. The fad quickly spread to the Internet, where sites were created extolling Norris as the ultimate alpha male and the international symbol of implacable macho.
Most of these sites revolve around satirical descriptions of the karate champion, who got his start in Hollywood in 1969 with a small part in the Dean Martin movie "The Wrecking Crew."
Some of the best lines about Norris on the Web:
* "Chuck Norris doesn't wear a watch, He decides what time it is."
* "When the boogeyman goes to bed, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris."
* "Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he's never cried. Ever."
* "Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits."
* "There's no chin behind Chuck Norris' beard. This is only another fist."
Norris has responded to all the attention with good humor, poking fun at the phenomenon in columns he's written for the conservative WorldNetDaily Internet site. (In June, he released a satirical list of the things he would do as president. Among them: "Increase jobs in America by sending ninja teams to steal them back from other countries" and "Tattoo an American flag with the words, 'In God We Trust,' on the forehead of every atheist.'")