Daily Show on NPR (5×8 – 10/26/10)

1) THE NPR POLICY ‘AGAINST SAYING SOMETHING INTERESTING’

A story isn’t a story until The Daily Show considers it. But Jon Stewart was off last week when NPR fired Juan Williams. He made up for it last night.

2) THE HIDDEN LIFE OF GUNS

The Washington Post has illuminated the holes in gun laws with an investigation called “The Hidden Life of Guns.” It found that 2,500 guns used in crimes could be traced back to one gun store, where people would buy guns — legally — to be used by felons and others in the commission of crimes. The newspaper was able to make the revelation despite a move by politicians — reportedly at the behest of the gun lobby — to no longer make it possible for the media and others to trace the path a gun takes from the time of its purchase, through the Freedom of Information Act. It’s a rich multimedia presentation of the Post’s investigation.

3) WRITING HISTORY

Twenty years from now — what with the the decline of letter-writing — will we here any more sweet stories of pen pals meeting each other after decades? The Pioneer Press has the story of a Minnesota woman whose balloon and attached note floated to the backyard of an Indiana woman. They communicated for years thereafter, but didn’t meet each other until last Friday.

There’s a lot of this going on. In Boston this week, a former third-grader has met one of the former Gulf War I soldiers with whom the class communicated years ago.

Since 1940, a farm girl in Iowa has been writing to a farm girl in Nebraska. They met soon thereafter when life took them both off the farm and to different parts of the country. Now, they’ve both returned to the Midwest.

Years ago, when I was working in the Berkshires, a fourth grade teacher took a box full of bottles, each with a note inside — to the ocean. She threw them in and one floated to Spain where it was found by a young man. The town in Spain raised money to bring the boy to Spain and, in turn, the New England community raised enough money to bring the boy from Spain to the United States. All because two people made a connection.

4) DEATH OF THE AMERICAN DREAM?

What can we learn from “Death of a Salesman?” Plenty. The BBC’s Matt Frei traveled to Vermont were the iconic play , written more than half a century ago, is finding new resonance.

5) THEY’LL BURY PAUL

Paul the soccer-game-predicting octopus has died.

In other critter news: A new species is discovered in the Amazon every three days, according to a report being released today.

Another image of a mountain lion has surfaced, this time near Two Harbors.

Bonus: How to make an impression in political ads on TV. We’ve reached the “show your kids” stage of the campaign.

TODAY’S QUESTION

In Minnesota and across the country, voters will go to the polls one week from today. A week from Election Day, what issue is most important to you?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Just one week out from mid-term elections, an Associated Press poll says one in three voters are still undecided. Midmorning looks at tight political races around the country and what’s on the minds of voters.

Second hour: A lawyer has turned his obsession with Victorian times and its most prominent characters into a new book that documents everything one might hope to know about Dracula.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: 11-11:30: Second District congressional debate: GOP congressman John Kline and DFL challenger Shelley Madore.

11:30-12: Third District congressional debate: GOP congressman Erik Paulsen and challengers DFLer Jim Meffert and IP candidate Jon Oleson.

Second hour: Steven Johnson, author of “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation.” He spoke at MPR’s UBS Forum.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Sorting out election-year code words.

Second hour: Aging in prison.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - A closely watched U.S. House race in South Dakota is heading into the home stretch, with a couple of debates scheduled for this week. The incumbent Democrat, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, trails Republican Kristi Noem in the latest polls. Noem says Herseth Sandlin is out of touch with the state, but Noem has had to deal with some personal issues including a long list of speeding tickets. MPR’s Mark Steil will have the story.

Annie Baxter is watching the first debate between Michelle Bachmann and Tarryl Clark today.

Next Tuesday’s crowded ballot includes dozens of requests from school districts for higher property taxes. MPR’s Tom Weber will focus on that.

Ian Frazier, the New Yorker magazine writer talks about his new book “Travels in Siberia,” where he describes a decades long case of “Russia Love” for a place which many people use as a metaphor for harsh unpleasantness. Euan Kerr will talk to him.