How "on" is Mike Huckabee right now? He even managed to (momentarily) charm Rolling Stone's famously venemous campaign correspondent, Matt Taibbi. After one event in Iowa Virginia, Taibbi writes in his lede,

when he was finished, [Huckabee] sought me out, apparently having been briefed beforehand that Rolling Stone was in the house.

"I'm glad you're here," he told me. "I finally get to tell someone who cares about Keith Richards."

Before I could respond, Huckabee plowed into a long and very entertaining story — one that included a surprisingly dead-on Pirates of the Caribbean-esque impersonation — about how Richards and Ron Wood got pulled over for reckless driving while on tour in Fordyce, Arkansas, a million and a half years ago, in 1975. Richards ended up getting a misdemeanor conviction — an injustice that stood for thirty-one years, until Huckabee, a would-be rock musician himself, stepped in and pardoned Richards last year.

"It's a long process, pardoning," Huckabee said, placing a hand on my shoulder. "It takes a lot of paperwork. And the funny thing is, people said to me afterwards, 'Governor, you'll do that for Keith Richards, but you wouldn't do that for an ordinary person.' And my answer to that is always, 'Hey, if you can play guitar like Keith Richards, I'll consider pardoning you, too.'?"...

After the Richards tale, he went on to tell me about the band he plays bass for, and how he has jammed with the likes of Percy Sledge and Grand Funk Railroad, and how he prefers John Entwistle to Flea's slap-and-pop style of bass-playing. Ten minutes later, driving away from the fund-raiser, I caught myself thinking: Hey, this guy doesn't seem like a total dickhead. I can almost see him as president. . . .

Then I woke up and did some homework that changed my mind. But I confess: It took a little while. Huckabee is that good.

The piece does conclude that Huckabee is "full-bore nuts" and posesses "undisguised lunacy." But Huckabee doesn't need the Rolling Stone vote anyway. This is just as example of the guy's smooth political touch.

Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP

--Michael Crowley