From Common-place, Kenneth Cohen on the manly sport of American politics or, how we came to call elections "races". From Vanity Fair, a look at how How Aaron Sorkin's West Wing inspired a legion of Lyman wannabes; and in a selection from his biography of Barack Obama, David Maraniss interviews both the president and Genevieve Cook — the “mystery woman” of Obama’s New York days — for a portrait of the leader as a young man. From Gawker, Max Read on a guide to Barack Obama’s coolness for politicians and journalists. A look at how Bill Maher managed to occupy an important place in the national conversation. Dave Weigel on why it pays to play the heretic for pundits. From Jacobin, Belen Fernandez on Tom Friedman’s war on humanity. Bill Ayers tells the remarkable story of hosting dinner for Tucker Carlson and Andrew Breitbart. An interview with Thomas Frank, author of Pity the Billionaire: The Hard Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right. Any way you slice it, to mix metaphors, we are not in Kansas anymore: Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols on political advertising. From Cracked, a look at 5 ways to spot a B.S. political story in under 10 seconds.