By Olivia Smith
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Paging Bobby Jindal, the GOP's latest greatest hope.
The Louisiana governor's rebuttal to President Barack Obama's speech on Tuesday has drawn a malestrom of attention - none of it the kind Jindal and Republicans were hoping for.
Among the newest jibes is an Internet video comparing the 37-year-old former Rhodes scholar to Kenneth Parcell, the barely-post-adolescent page on the NBC comedy "30 Rock."
A new Facebook group titled "Bobby Jindal is Kenneth the Page" had already attracted more than 1,800 members by Wednesday afternoon.
Add this to New York Times columnist David Brooks calling Jindal's remarks "insane," and a Fox New commentator, Juan Williams, drubbing Jindal's delivery as flat and amateur.
The reaction may have Repulicans wondering what happened to the guy who wowed people on NBC's "Meet the Press" just last Sunday, and who impressed seasoned journalists after a meeting with Obama on Monday.
On those occasions, Jindal delivered an incisive critique of the President's $787 stimulus package, including a convincing defense of his decision to reject some of his state's share of the money.
So what happened?
According to Chris Mathews, the host of MSNBC's "Hardball," the cards were stacked against Jindal from the moment he stepped on screen.
Mathews created his own related mini-controversy when he was recorded saying, "Oh, God," as Jindal was about to speak.
Mathews explained Wednesday that he was reacting to what he perceived as a pompous lead-in that invited comparisons between Jindal, speaking from the Louisiana's governor's mansion, and President Obama.
"Gov. Bobby Jindal walking from somewhere in the back of this narrow hall, this winding staircase looming there, the odd antebellum look of the scene," he said. "Some people heard my reaction at the time. What was the message in all this? Was this some mimicking of a president walking along the state floor to the East Room? And at the same time that the Republicans are so far from Washington that they can't be blamed for anything?"
Matthews said he wasn't referring to Jindal himself, or anything he expected the governor to say.
Jindal's problems didn't end with his intro. His remarks were deemed insensitive on a myriad of fronts, including one in particular where he arguably should have know better.
Jindal singled out $140 million to the U.S. Geological Survery for volcano monitoring as an example of the bailout's excessiveness. Someone whose own state rightly received a massive influx of government cash after Hurricane Katrina, and is still struggling to recover from that natural disaster more than 3 years after the fact, might have pinned his critique of Obama's plan on a different issue.
His remarks provoked steam from at least one politician who lives in the vicinity of a smoldering lava-filled summitt.
"Does the governor have a volcano in his backyard?" said Royce Pollard, the mayor of Vancouver, Washington, which is dangerously close to Mount St. Helens. "We have one that's very active, and it still rumbles and spits and coughs very frequently," he said Wednesday, as reported by CNN.
Many acknowledged that the wildly popular and oratorically gifted President Obama is a tough act to follow. Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh and a few others came to Jindal's defense. "We cannot shun politicians who speak for our beliefs just because we don't like the way he says it," Limbaugh said on his radio show Wednesday.
But the speech has others wondering if this is one GOP phenom whose moment ended almost before it began.
This is one page Jindal, and the Republican party, will want to turn over quickly.