Thanks to everyone who solved and tried to complete the meta.
LIST1A(*) More than just liberal (Do baby newts also dream of politics or is that just a human trait?)[----] + EFT = LEFTIST
GENTRY15A(*) "Singing Cowboy" of filmdom (I'm parched... there's not much water here in le désert)[------] + EAU = GENEAUTRY
CHEATS27A(*) Nosebleeds at the opera (at least going to church is free!)[------] + APSE = CHEAPSEATS
SKED38A(*) Like shish kebabs... or bombing comedians (don't forget to quench your thirst with a drink from that wide-mouthed jug)[----] + EWER = SKEWERED
DRS9D(*) Fundraising dinner attendees (I heard the entertainment at this one is very avant-garde...)[---] + ONO = DONORS
FIN29D(*) Rare beginning for a hit song (Lots of hits are written about whiskey but for the life of me can't think of one about good old lemon sugar-water)[---] + ADE = FADEIN
My only regret with this puzzle was being unable to fit OREO.