The appeal? Though much has been made of the fact that Maddow is the first openly gay cable news host, and, in outlook and appearance, very unlike a brittle Fox blonde, the show feels unique because of the tone and tenor of its content. Maddow manages a level of cheek and irony without descending into either vapidity or doctrinaire aggression (one of our fave Maddow moments was her reasoned yet decisive on-air spankingof cranky Canadian David Frum). Sure, we might share Maddow's liberal lean, but her commentary most often just sounds like good sense and sophisticated parsing of issues, rather than partisan playbook recitation—proving that a hard-core policy geek can be accessible, funny... human. A Rhodes scholar with a doctorate of philosophy in political science, Maddow was an AIDS activist and then a talk radio personality (she's still on Air America) before becoming a TV commentator and then host. Her rise has a grassrootsy feel—she's been a consistent online presence through her career and is now a hands on Twitterer (oh, and her hobby? Booze). Change we can believe in? Hell yes.
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