Linton Weeks, NPR

Linton Weeks joined NPR in the summer of 2008, as its national correspondent for Digital News. He immediately hit the campaign trail, covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions; fact-checking the debates; and exploring the candidates, the issues and the electorate.

Weeks is originally from Tennessee, and graduated from Rhodes College in 1976. He was the founding editor of Southern Magazine in 1986. The magazine was bought — and crushed — in 1989 by Time-Warner. In 1990, he was named managing editor of The Washington Post's Sunday magazine. Four years later, he became the first director of the newspaper's website, From 1995 until 2008, he was a staff writer in the Style section of The Washington Post.

He currently lives in a suburb of Washington with the artist Jan Taylor Weeks. In 2009, they created The Stone and Holt Weeks Foundation to honor their beloved sons.

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.

Hurling around a word like "treason," the Chicago Sun-Times has observed, "is the definition of dirty politics."

If that be the case, this particular political season is dirtier than a West Texas hog wallow.