Wal-Mart had the press into NWA today (no, critical pipsqueaks like us didn’t rate an invite; though we did rate a notice from a Wal-Mart watch group about a competing news conference by Wal-Mart employees urging the company to treat its employees better). Reuters focuses on the company’s vow to do better on health care. AP led with the company’s push for more upscale goods to attract better-heeled customers — better lawn chairs, fluffier towels and hiphop clothing for males. The Huckster was on hand to pi … er, promote, the discount chain.

Speaking of Wal-Mart, Roby Brock’s Talk Business blog today noted that the company is phasing out the smiley face. Enough caricaturing is enough, already.

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UPDATE: Here’s Stephens Media coverage of Gov. Huckabee’s speech, in which he hypes the numbers on Wal-Mart health coverage (and a Wal-Mart watcher calls his hand). Also, His Shamelessness added:

“I know that you’re asking why the governor of Arkansas would come speak to you today,” Huckabee said in a speech before taking questions. “Is he a homer? Is he a lackey, a shill trotted out to say nice things about Wal-Mart? The answer is probably yes to all those. But I’ll tell you why, without apology, I’m here. It’s because I’m a customer.”

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He said Wal-Mart has empowered consumers by driving down prices of basic consumer goods, leaving families with more disposable income.

UPDATE II: A devoted reader leads us to a piercing link on the PR-fest yesterday by Wonkette. We wonder: Did Wal-Mart throw on a feedbag at Copeland’s or Fred’s last night? Wonkette indicates some bloggers of the kiss-up-to-Wal-Mart variety were invited to cover. And they have delivered as expected.

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