"Even as Chavez attacks President Bush as his sworn nemesis, his government is running a strong campaign to curry favor with U.S. citizens through leftist grass-roots groups [Bolivarian circles], paid lobbyists and public relations operatives and offers of cheap fuel for America's poor.
"The Venezuelan leader is running a 'grass-roots foreign policy,' said Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Washington based Center for Economic and Policy Research, a group that supports Chavez.
"'Obviously the government of the United States has not been very friendly and the Venezuelans figure they have a better chance at dealing directly with the people who don't have any particular reason not to like Venezuela,' he added."
My favorite part of the article, raising the now routine question of anonymous sources, was this:
"To Bush administration officials the names of organizations that back the Venezuelan president have a familiar ring to them.
"'The Venezuelans just got the Rolodex from Cuba,' said one senior State Department official who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the issue."
The article then goes on to mention Danny Glover and Rev. Lucius Walker as both supporters of Cuba and of Venezuela. Quelle surprise! If Hugo Chavez wanted to find out who in the U.S. to reach out to for support, he hardly needed to call up Fidel Castro. He could have called me or about a thousand other people who could have given him the complete list of people and groups likely to support him. Heck, he probably could have found the list on the web, starting with David Horowitz's list of "leftists I love to hate." The idea that this was somehow "sensitive" information that warranted that this State Department official be granted anonymity for his cheap slander (well, he or she thought it was slander, anyway) is preposterous. And typical.