On Wednesday, Times reporter Michael Barbaro began with the buildup: "He is hailed as a paragon of timeless male beauty. His face is likened to the chiseled visages of Antonio Banderas, David Beckham and Ricky Martin. He is called, without irony, 'a sizzling stalwart.'" Who? Barbaro reported People magazine included Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo in their "Sexiest Men Alive" issue. He was sexy for his "many years of public service" - or in short, it's sexy being a liberal.
Barbaro's article isn't really pro-Cuomo, although the news itself certainly is - a liberal newspaper forwarding the verdict of a liberal Time-Life celebrity rag. (It looks like there's just a photo, no article.) Perhaps conscious of the fizzy nature of this "news," Barbaro played up the Cuomo family's egotism:
Mr. Cuomo, 52, snagged a coveted slot in the double issue of People, which surveys the international landscape of bulging pectorals and rippling abdominals. "I was," Mr. Cuomo said in an interview, "slightly surprised initially."
He was not, however, entirely humbled by it. Asked what kind of regimen he had followed to make the cut, Mr. Cuomo responded wryly: "A lot of it's just natural. It's genetic sculpting."
That, he said, and a sparing diet, and twice-weekly sessions on the treadmill.
Mr. Cuomo appeared in the magazine's 50-and-over cohort, alongside Sting, Liam Neeson and Michael Bolton. Asked how he was selected, Liz Sporkin, executive editor of People, did not gush about his physical attributes. "His many years of public service make him sexy," she said.
Mostly, New York's next chief executive seemed relieved. His younger brother, Chris Cuomo, was named one of People magazine's most beautiful people in 1997 (and his father, former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, won a sexiest honor from Playgirl in 1985.)
If anyone thought Mario drew such an honor for his "genetic sculpting" instead of his government activism, they should think again. Barbaro's story ended with sibling rivalry:
Chris Cuomo even distributed copies of his appearance as a Christmas card to friends and family. "I thought it was a little much, actually," his brother said...
In an interview, Chris Cuomo, 40, said he had repeatedly turned down invitations to appear in sexiest-men issues, because it detracted from his work as an ABC News reporter.
"I am happy for my brother, the governor-elect, and his so-called sexiness," he said. "It must be comforting for him to receive kudos from someone other than our mother, who favors him."
Andrew Cuomo insisted it would not go to his head, though it already seemed to have gone to his vocal chords. At the end of an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Cuomo suddenly deepened his distinctive Italian-flecked accent.
"This," he said, signing off after the interview, "is my sexiest-man voice."