- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 10, 2000

Firing back

After her unsuccessful stint as a Saturday morning CBS television host, former Rep. Susan Molinari of New York became a columnist for JagNotes.com, a leading global provider of Internet-based equities research and financial news.

In yesterday's column, Mrs. Molinari, who frequently writes about politics, couldn't help but critique her previous employer's coverage of the Republican National Convention: "CBS has received substantial criticism, particularly internally, for not staying with Laura Bush's prime-time address during the Republican National Convention. Will CBS correct its actions during the Democratic Convention? And if it does, will the network be accused of being anti-Republican?

"(Full disclosure: I used to work for, and was fired by, CBS)."

Feeding Reno

Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala is quite the women's basketball fan, frequently showing up as she did last night to cheer on the Washington Mystics.

At a recent game between the Mystics and Detroit Shock, Miss Shalala participated in a WNBA live Web chat, in which she was asked by a fan:

"What if Clinton Cabinet members played 3 on 3 Donna Shalala, Janet Reno and Madeleine Albright versus William Cohen, Bruce Babbitt and Andrew Cuomo. Who wins? My money's on the women!"

Replied Miss Shalala: "Well, I would put the money on the women, too, because we have Reno, who is taller than everyone. Madeleine and I would just scurry around and feed Janet the ball. I think she could play above the rim."

Horse whisperer

It was in January 1995, at a White House banquet coinciding with a meeting of the National Governors Association, that Montana Gov. Marc Racicot was first introduced to Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

The two Republicans happened to be seated at the same table, yet each time Mr. Racicot tried to begin a conversation with Mr. Bush, it got interrupted by White House waiters and even a chef, tomato stain on his apron who stopped by to say hello to the previous president's son.

On every occasion, Mr. Bush stood up from the table and shook hands or hugged each of the White House staff, calling several of them by their first names. The Montana governor was highly impressed.

So much so that two years later, Mr. Racicot telephoned Mr. Bush to say he felt he was destined for higher office.

"I know a good horse when I see one," said Mr. Racicot, who grew up in a Montana logging town. "I'll be there to help you."

Still serving his first term as governor and yet to announce his intentions for re-election, Mr. Bush confided in his friend that he was early, "very early." But he never forgot his colleague's offer.

In 1998, when Mr. Bush traveled to Israel along with a Jewish coalition, he asked Mr. Racicot to accompany him.

Three months later, Mr. Bush stole Mr. Racicot's press secretary, former longtime New York Times columnist and best-selling author Andrew Malcolm (he is now deputy communications manager for the Bush campaign).

Last summer, prior to beginning his presidential campaign in Iowa, Mr. Bush invited the Montana governor to his Austin, Texas, home, where in the living room he practiced his Cedar Rapids speech to an audience of one: Mr. Racicot.

Later, the two joined up in Ames, for the Iowa straw poll.

They were together in New Hampshire, Mr. Racicot helping Mr. Bush prepare for his first primary debate.

Today, Mr. Racicot assists Mr. Bush on policy issues, insisting on staying behind the scenes.

His second and final term as Montana governor (he captured an impressive 80 percent of the vote in the 1996 election) draws to a close in January when another term in Washington ends and a new one begins.

Clip 'n' save

The Washington-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has actually lined up a bail bondsman for journalists who might wind up in the slammer while in Los Angeles covering the Democratic National Convention:

Richard Kiperman of Kiperman Bail Bonds, at 800/666-BAIL.

No questions

The following is a letter from Al Johnson, of the Worldwide Watch Co. of Seattle:

"Dear Inside the Beltway: Enclosed is a press release and a photo of a watch we've just introduced, the Al Gore Backwards Running watch.

"The watch makes a statement about the direction Al Gore would lead the country. All three hands run backwards.

"If you have any questions, please give me a call."

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