Readers get the first thumbs up this week.
Yes, the readers. We were amazed by the response to our request that readers of the Viewpoints page help us decide which syndicated columnist would replace Bill O'Reilly, who retired his column at the end of last year.
O'Reilly filled one of our right-of-center slots on the page, so we let you test drive three others who are also right of center: John Stossel, Erick Erickson and Ben Carson.
Erickson did not fare so well in the poll. He's a red state standup kind of guy, but ... Stossel, who is actually a libertarian, got a few votes and even landed a couple of second-place votes as some readers gave their first and second choices in reply to our request.
But an overwhelming majority —? and truly, many more readers replied than we anticipated — voted for Carson.
Here's what some of you said:
"I vote for Ben Carson. He is a brilliant man who has overcome disadvantage and adversity and achieved unparalleled success in his chosen field. Yet, he has not forgotten his roots. He speaks with common sense, without resorting to hysterical or divisive rhetoric. He advocates hard work and perseverance, not entitlement." — Abbie C.
"Tough choice. Have to think Ben Carson would lead the pack, though. I think he's articulate enough to keep the reader interested and he does have some fresh ideas." — Steve M.
"I vote for Ben Carson, a new, fresh voice on political matters." — Marilyn G.
So, there you have it. Who says readers don't have a voice on the editorial pages of a newspaper?
And so it goes that today we welcome Ben Carson and John Stossel to the lineup of syndicated columnists on the Viewpoints page. Stossel, interesting enough, today invokes the name of Bill O'Reilly. In short, you caught us in a giving mood and you'll get a dose of both. That's not to say it takes two columnists to replace one O'Reilly. We're just nice.
Happy reading and, again, thumbs up to all of you who took time to weigh in on the matter.

Ethics? Ethics? We don't need no stinkin' ethics.
Take that variation on "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and "Blazing Saddles" for what it's worth, which is worth about as little as our lawmakers are giving to the issue of ethics in our state government. Still.
When the sitting governor and her Democratic opponent are nearly in step with each other in agreeing what little progress is being made at the House level, you know something's amiss.
We appreciate Columbia Rep. Kirkman Finlay trying to lay some groundwork, but we'd really like to see some meat, not scraps. The process of getting legislation passed drags on all too much as it is. In fact, Finlay, who has six ethics-related bills before his peers, said he intends to introduce more next year. Next year? Again, this is dragging on way too long.