How could this column take a few days off for Thanksgiving without mentioning the biggest cultural development in the presidential race since Oprah endorsed Barack Obama?

Ric Flair, who next week makes his triumphant return to the WWE and brings back his "Four Horsemen" brood to boot, is a fan of Mike Huckabee's, and will campaign for him in South Carolina.

Flair's career matured in Greenville and environs; he is an immensely popular figure there among males aged, oh, 25 through 45 -- those who grew up watching Mid-South championship wrestling, the National Wrestling Alliance, and who spent their early Saturday evenings listening to the dulcet tones of Tony Shiavone and watching World Championship Wrestling at 6:05 pm ET on TBS.

Flair is a throwback to an era where wrestlers stayed in character 24/7, where grapplers could be smaller and still be champions; where heels and babyfaces traded positions but did not subvert the general moral order of the universe -- good versus bad, with bad winning just enough times to keep you tuned in. Flair's signature move is the chop; his finishing move is the figure-four leg lock, which, if you've ever tried to use on your brother, actually hurts!

As a performer, Flair knew no peer. As a man, he knows nothing but wrestling. He is 58 years old now, and while his every appearance draws thunderous applause and hoots from a much-younger WWE audience, there's a twinge of sadness everytime he's in the ring. He's slower; his face is pockmarked, ragged and worn; his signature long, blond tresses are gone.

But to young men in the South, he is an icon. He draws more respect than Chuck Norris.

And if Mike Huckabee uses him properly, he could really help him pop.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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