I was at meetings in South Carolina the last two days -- meeting some great progressive advocates in the state -- and somehow Wednesday night found myself at a fundraiser for the Richland County Democratic Party in Columbia, the state capitol. I was waved in free with my Southern Exposure media credentials.

The heat was boiling and the attendance fair-to-middlin', but overall spirits were high. The jovial atmosphere was aided by the presence of a couple Dem bigshots, former Sen. Fritz Hollings and Don Fowler, the former chair of the DNC.

With hot dogs and Bud Light the main fare, the event was pretty low key, which is why it was especially amusing to fire up my laptop Thursday and find The Drudge Report hyping a supposedly major "straw poll" picking the Dems' 2008 presidential candidate at the event, which Hillary Clinton narrowly won. Other right-wingers were similarly fascinated by the results, which they claimed offered "the first real look we've gotten at how Democrat voters feel about their 2008 presidential candidates."

Um, no. It offers the first real look at what a gathering of a couple hundred somewhat inebriated South Carolinians inclined to mingle in 100 degree weather happened to casually scratch on their make-shift ballots Wednesday night. Most attendees graciously caved to the light-hearted cajoling of a "Hillary Now" contingent circulating in the crowd. Folks took this about as seriously as a game of horseshoes.

I suppose what this does offer is yet another look at the slim stack of evidence on which some will base sweeping judgements about what "Democrat voters feel."

A sidenote: hostility against Howard Dean amongst the event organizers was palpable. An announcement that the DNC chair was coming to Columbia in late June was buried hurriedly late in the program. The MC snidely suggested folks could attend Dean's visit "if you're into that sort of thing," and made clear one reason to come would be to "let him know if he's doing a good job ... or not." Whether this barely-concealed venom was heart-felt or done for the benefit of Don Fowler, whose son Donnie lost the DNC chair race to Dean earlier this year, was unclear.