Linton Weeks, NPR

For variegated reasons – urban sprawl, large-scale farming, invasive plants and human thoughtlessness – wildflowers in America are vanishing.

Which is a shame.

In Texas, for instance, bloomspotting in the vast expanse of the Lone Starscape can be like birdwatching. Amid the dun and dust of desert and field, flora can surprise, delight, astonish.

The balloons have fallen, the bunting's down, and President Obama has been re-elected.

That means Mitt Romney has been defeated — and with him, many election aspects that we presumed to be true. (You know what they say about presume — it makes a pres out of u and me.)

Maybe it's because we're sailing into a new and uncharted century. Maybe it's because of climate change or polar shift or Mayan calendrical mayhem. But the presidential election of 2012 provided a highly unusual, if not unique, set of circumstances.

When former President Bill Clinton referred to present President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention as "cool on the outside," Clinton was underscoring the notion that Obama is, well, cool.

The eyes of Texas have been upon James Richard "Rick" Perry ever since he boot-scootin' boogied onto the public-service stage. Now political observers are watching Perry's fortunes fluctuate as a Republican candidate for president.

Political junkies have followed the career of Perry — an Eagle Scout, veterinary student and son of a farmer and a bookkeeper — from his initial election as a Democrat to the state House of Representatives in 1984. They have studied his endorsement of Al Gore for president in 1988. They watched him as he changed parties in 1989.

Think of the past few months — since the beginning of May — as the prologue to the 2012 presidential election story, or as the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism puts it, "that weeding out period before citizens ever vote or caucus."

The Project is releasing a study today titled: "The Media Primary: How News Media and Blogs Have Eyed the Presidential Contenders During the First Phase of the 2012 Race."

Weed it and reap.

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