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Members of the Freedom from Religion Foundation this week unveiled their answer to the traditional Nativity scene currently on display in the state Capitol. 

On Sunday the conservative group, Wisconsin Family Action, set up Christmas figurines on a table near the east wing of the rotunda. Pretty routine stuff. Joseph. Mary. Baby Jesus. 

That move angered FFRF (pronounced "Furf," by us here at OTC), which vowed to unveil its own "slightly blasphemous" Capitol Nativity display — this one celebrating the winter solstice.

Now, we here at OTC were a little excited. We couldn't help but imagine which atheists would feature in such a secular celebration. Our money was on Christopher Hitchens (who passed away this week), Steven Hawking and Bill Maher as the three wise men and maybe a sweet little baby Nietzsche (complete with mustache) in a manger.

But on Thursday, the group put out a display that featured little cardboard cutouts of people like Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Mark Twain. Each carried a quote extolling the virtues of "reason" over religion. We were underwhelmed, but we suppose it made their point.

In other news this week, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan receives another honor and Gov. Scott Walker makes a move guaranteed to score points with Santa. 

Mister Congeniality

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It has been quite a year for Paul Ryan. The rising star of the Republican Party has been villainized by some; practically canonized by others. Anyway you slice it, the Janesville conservative has clearly caught people's attention.

The latest honor came this week when Congressman McDreamy tied for runner up as Time magazine's Person of the Year. He lost out to a composite person, "The Protester." Despite being beaten for the top prize, Time did describe Ryan as "the most influential American politician." 

"Through a combination of hard work, good timing and possibly suicidal guts, the Wisconsin Republican managed to harness his party to a dramatic plan for dealing with America's rapidly rising public debt," Time writer David Von Drehle gushed.

Other runners-up included Princess Kate Middleton (Pippa was robbed); Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei; and Adm. William McRaven, who helped plan the Navy SEAL assault that led to Osama bin Laden's death.

Deer Governor

On Thursday, the governor made the unusual move of pardoning a deer that had been targeted for death by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The tame (and adorable) deer, named Charlotte, became famous after a Chicago Tribune columnist took up her cause.

The DNR was concerned Charlotte could pass chronic wasting disease on to others. Still, if you ask us, it seems a smart move to save a deer at Christmas. It's one thing to have Democrats trying to recall you. It's another thing entirely to have a certain jolly fat man coming after you. 

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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