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Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke gestures during a campaign stop at Keene State College in Keene, N.H., Tuesday, March 19, 2019. O'Rourke announced last week that he'll seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Beto's many excuses

Millionaire presidential candidate and former back bench U.S. House member Beto O'Rourke sounded a little like Hillary Clinton explaining why she lost the 2018 presidential election last week. He was trying to detail why he and his wife gave only 0.3 percent of his income in 2017 to charity.

Let's see: He just didn't report all of his contributions. The deductions weren't important. He never thought he would be running for president. He's trying to get donation records for organizations they gave to. They volunteered their time instead of giving money. And our favorite — he counts his campaign for president as part of his charitable contributions.

"We've made donations to so many organizations in small amounts, in the hundreds of dollars, in larger amounts, in the thousands of dollars," O'Rourke told reporters last week, according to the Associated Press. "This is beyond what's itemized and reflected in our taxes.

The former Texas U.S. Senate candidate had released 10 years worth of taxes.

 

Candidate shopping

Hollywood will overwhelmingly support whichever Democrat emerges victorious in the party's 2020 presidential primary, but its inhabitants are not seeing eye to eye with their money on the nearly 20 major candidates in the race. So, if you hang on every pronouncement by your favorite star about climate change or the #MeToo movement or nuclear proliferation, you'll want to know to whom they're giving their money.

First-quarter Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports, compiled by The Hill, tell us.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, got most of her home state's love. Actor Ben Affleck and music producer Quincy Jones maxed out with $2,800, followed by "Two and a Half Men's" Jon Cryer with $2,775, talk show host Busy Phillips with $2,000, former "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm with $1,000, and Lily Tomlin and Don Cheadle $100 apiece.

Her fellow senator, Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, picked up $2,800 from Kevin Bacon, Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea, $5,600 (total), director M. Night Shyamalan and actress Marg Helgenberger, $2,700 apiece, and Jamie Lee Curtis, $1,000. Booker's girlfriend actress Rosario Dawson also was a contributor.

Repeat candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, was favored by Susan Sarandon with $2,800 (and $500 to the campaign of U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii) and Danny DeVito with $2,700. Madeleine Stowe and singers Jackson Browne (who also gave to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts) and Norah Jones also made donations.

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke got the support of singer Willie Nelson, celebrity chef Rachael Ray, "Saturday Night Live's" Cecily Strong and actor Tate Donovan, while South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg amassed contributions from Ryan Reynolds, Jane Lynch, "This Is Us" star Mandy Moore and former "West Wing" star Bradley Whitford (who also gave money to Warren).

Warren also picked up $2,800 from producer James L. Brooks and $250 from former "Sex and the City" star Evan Handler. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand got $1,000 from her former college roommate, former "Nashville" star Connie Britton, and $500 from former "Saturday Night Live" star Rachel Dratch.

Clint Eastwood's son, "Walk of Fame" star Scott, cast his lot — and $500 — to former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

 

Whole lot of touching

An "unbiased" CNN host may not have been very helpful recently while trying to prop up former Vice President Joe Biden, an unannounced 2020 presidential candidate who has been accused of unwanted touching by a number of women.

Michael Smerconish said he wasn't seeking to "minimize the feelings of women who believe he [Biden] was too close for their comfort," but "in his half century of public service, he's touched literally tens of thousands of men and women."

We doubt the former Delaware U.S. senator tweeted his thanks.

 

Church dropouts

Draw your own conclusions, but Democrats are among the groups that had the biggest drops in church membership since 2000, according to a new Gallup poll. Although church membership has fallen in most groups since the start of the century, membership among Democrats fell from 71% to 48%.

A similar 2017 poll found that 40% of Democrats weren't unaffiliated with any religion.

Attendance by Republicans has dropped from 77% to 69%, the Gallup poll found.

Although God has been claimed by adherents of both parties from time to time, a University of Notre Dame political science professor believes the partisan divide occurred because of "the allergic reaction many Americans have to the mixture of religion and conservative politics.

"Increasingly," David Campbell told the Associated Press, "Americans associate religion with the Republican Party — and if they are not Republicans themselves, they turn away from religion."

Last we looked, though, God hadn't chosen a party.

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