Best Chin-Stroker - 2004
Bruce Cain, a Berkeley political scientist, may be the most prolific pundit in the country; his name has turned up in more than 600 stories since January 2003, according to Nexis, and that doesn't include the work he does for KTVU as an analyst, delivering neat soundbites in front of the same tasteful shrubbery, week in, week out. His specialty is a blunt but nonpartisan diagnosis, often involving finely calibrated fence-sitting. On the retirement of several veteran state senators because of term limits: "It represents the final, complete phase of term limits in the state of California. We're entering a brave new world." On gay marriage as a political issue: "Every Democratic adviser would postpone this issue if they could until after the election." On mudslinging: "When you see a nasty campaign, the question is, 'Does the campaign create the nastiness, or does the underlying nastiness [in the country] taint the campaign?' I would say both are going on." In September, in the teeth of the California recall, he was quoted in a newspaper on all but three days of the month. We're guessing that on Sept. 7, 19, and 25, he was trapped beneath a heavy object at home.