*UPDATE* – Mayor Pike has just sent me the letter he sent to Comedy Central. You can check it out at the bottom of the page.
Mount Vernon might have Glenn Beck as their soon-to-be-newest holder of the key to the city.
But Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike thinks the city to the north can do better.
Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, is being offered the key to the city, and Pike says he thinks it’s appropriate.
Pike and Stewart both graduated from the same high school in New Jersey, though they didn’t know each other, the mayor said.
The mayor’s invitation comes after Mount Vernon Mayor Bud Norris announced that conservative Fox News commentator and radio show host Glenn Beck would come to the city on September 26 to receive the key to the city. The decision raised the ire of some locals who oppose the honor to Beck, and six of seven Mount Vernon City Council members have refused to participate in the event. Tickets to the event with the national figure sold out less than a day after availability.
Beck is a native of Mount Vernon and ended up graduating from Bellingham’s Sehome High School.
Locals are also supporting Pike’s invitation to Stewart.
Right now a “twition” — a petition using similar social networking techniques, and a very same look, as the social networking site Twitter — is being circulated by Scott Pierce, a local social networking consultant. So far, 46 people have signed the petition, which was created 17 hours ago, according to the information on the petition. You can check it out yourself or sign it, right here.
“I just wanted to be able to capture the grassroots feedback,” Pierce said by phone, “And then arm the city with it.”
Pierce said he’s spoken with a city spokesperson about coordination as well.
“Right now the city isn’t officially on Twitter, but they wanted to gauge the feedback in order to come with those numbers to The Daily Show,” he said. “It’s kind of a nice community one-two punch.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Pike says he sent both an e-mail through Comedy Central’s Web site as well as a follow-up letter about his invitation. He’s not optimistic about hearing back, however.
“To be honest, I don’t think that I will, but I did offer an inducement that we’d try to track down Stephen Colbert’s eagle,” Pike said.
He is, of course, referring to “Stephen Jr.,” named after Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert who parodies conservative Fox News entertainer Bill O’Reilly on Comedy Central. The eagle hatched at the San Francisco Zoo and officials there had notified Colbert of the naming before it hatched and he would often visit the eagle’s nest via Web cam prior to it hatching. The bird has been sighted up and down the West Coast, including through Washington in to British Columbia.
The mayor isn’t a fan of Beck, either, and that’s how the journey to invite Stewart began, with an off-handed joke about inviting The Daily Show host and then some encouraged from an acquaintance.
“The mayor of Mount Vernon is free to do whatever he wants, but I think Glenn Beck is out of touch with, what I think, certainly most of the constituents I talk to believe,” Pike said “I actually think Jon Stewart does a lot better reporting.”
Pike pointed to Stewart’s reporting and harsh grilling of “Mad Money” TV show host Jim Cramer regarding the banking sector collapse, where he used video of the host against him to illustrate that Cramer might be more part of the problem than being a responsible member of the national media.
Pike knows it’s a longshot, he said, and tried to be cordial and casual in the letter to Stewart.
“I said to him in the letter, I didn’t know you, you didn’t know me,” Pike said. “We’re looking for a bigger and better star.”
Here is Pike’s letter:
September 4, 2009
c/o The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
733 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10019-5051
Dear Mr. Stewart and Daily Show Producers:
My name is Dan Pike, and I am the Mayor of Bellingham, Washington. I also went to Lawrence High School, Jon Stewart’s alma mater, a few years ahead of him (Class of 1975), though I never knew him and doubt he ever knew me.
I am writing because I am currently the Mayor of Bellingham, Washington, a community of about 80,000 between Vancouver, BC and Seattle, WA. The next city south of us on I-5, Mount Vernon (pop. 30,000), has just announced they are giving the keys to that city to Glenn Beck, a native son. The news got me to thinking that if they could give Beck a key simply for being born there, perhaps Bellingham could provide a key to Mr. Stewart for the better reasons of providing cogent yet comedic analysis of news events and personalities on a daily basis, as well as being an alumnus of the same high school as Bellingham’s Mayor. I was particularly moved and informed by the Daily Show’s recent analysis of the evolution of Glenn Beck’s feelings about the US healthcare system over the past couple of years.
We are bigger and better than Mount Vernon, and so are interested in a bigger, better star to receive our key. As an added bonus, should Mr. Stewart accept, we would try to track down Stephen, the eagle from the Colbert Report who frequently lives in our county, so Jon could have a personal sighting. If Mr. Colbert would like to receive a key to Bellingham, too, he is also welcome. If Mr. Stewart cannot come to Bellingham to accept, perhaps I could deliver it at some time in the months ahead, when I come to Lawrenceville to visit my mother.
While this is a joke of sorts, intended as a counterpoint to the Beck event in Mount Vernon, the offer is serious.
I may be contacted through my office at (360) 778-8100, on my cell phone at (redacted), or via email at email@example.com.
Thanks for your consideration; keep up the great work!
City of Bellingham, Washington