- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2000

Hillary Rodham Clinton had a little help from professional comedy writers to produce her own "Top 10" list for her campaign-energizing appearance with talk-show host David Letterman.

The first lady also appears to have had a hand on a pop quiz which news wires reported Thursday night she "aced."

Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson was quoted in the New York Times Thursday as saying that she "might, in fact, have been given a sneak peak at the questions" before show time.

But Kimberly Izzo, spokeswoman for CBS' "The Late Show With David Letterman," said there was no collaboration on the pop quiz, in which the first lady correctly identified the bluebird as the official New York state bird, the sugar maple as its state tree and the correct number of counties in the state.

"They knew that there was going to be a quiz, and we gave them a hint that it was going to be about New York," she said. "But nothing more than that. The first lady is a very smart woman. And obviously, her campaign has done a good job in preparing her.

"None of that was scripted," Miss Izzo said, "But, yes, the 'Top 10' list was a collaboration between her people and some of our writers."

Mrs. Clinton appeared poised, almost relaxed, Wednesday night as she traded jokes with Mr. Letterman, who had been goading her for many days to appear on his show.

Mrs. Clinton produced a card with her own "Top 10" list one of the most popular segments on the Letterman show on why she agreed to appear on the after-hours program. Among them: "If Dan Quayle did it, how hard can it be?" and "I have not been to the Ed Sullivan Theater since I was dating Ringo."

Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton's appearance appears to have drawn considerable attention from viewers. Overnight viewer ratings from 47 major markets indicated the usual 4 million Letterman viewers had jumped to at least 8 million for the Wednesday broadcast.

President Clinton opened his remarks in an appearance Thursday before students at Brooklyn's Boricua College to heap praise on his wife's television performance.

"I thought she was going to run for office here, but after David Letterman last night, she may be trying to get his job instead," the president said. "I thought I was supposed to be the funny one in this family."

Less certain is whether Mrs. Clinton's expected adversary for the Senate seat, New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, is suffering "Top 10" envy.

"The mayor is a frequent guest of our show and definitely a friend of the show," Miss Izzo said. "But, no, right now we have no plans to have the mayor back on."

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