- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2000

Final conspiracy

Every year, it's the custom of Nancy Pincombe-Docksai to present friends, family and business associates with an official White House Christmas ornament. This year's ornament, the last issued under President Clinton, commemorates the 200th anniversary of the White House.

"Imagine my surprise," Mrs. Pincombe-Docksai reveals to Inside the Beltway, "upon reading the materials included with it."

Packed in each boxed ornament is a brief history of the White House, this year containing a historical perspective of the Electoral College. Or more precisely how one presidential candidate originally thought the loser eventually did win the White House, without inflicting harm upon the nation:

"The Electoral College assembled in each state on December 4, to cast their votes for the presidential candidates. Reports of the count trickled into Washington, and for a time [John] Adams held a narrow lead over [Thomas] Jefferson. The Federalists were optimistic. On December 12, word came that South Carolina, where Federalist sentiment was thought to be strong, had gone to the Republicans. The news stunned Adams and ensured his defeat by one of the other candidates, Aaron Burr or Thomas Jefferson. Two days before Christmas, Republican Georgia and Tennessee tied Burr and Jefferson. The tie-breaking vote was held in the House of Representatives in February 1801. Jefferson was elected. Sometimes called the 'Revolution of 1800,' the transfer of power from the Federalists to the Republicans was not hostile but peaceful and orderly."

Speaking of dictators

A high-ranking Republican official in Washington demanded anonymity and for good reason after plastering this quote all over Capitol Hill:

"The people who vote decide nothing. The people who count the vote decide everything."

Josef Stalin.

Amended pledge

I pledge allegiance

To the new flag

Of these divided states of America

And to the tyranny

For which it stands

An oppressed nation

Under (fill-in either Democrat/ Republican) rule

Unconstitutional

Without liberty

Or justice

For all

Anonymous

Talk about timing

In an age of overnight publishing, it won't be long until the first "tell-all" yarns of the bizarre 2000 election appear in bookstores.

Actually, why wait?

Jack Uldrich, one of two political appointees in the administration of Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, recently published a critically acclaimed political thriller, "The Gibraltar Conspiracy" (Mortyn Press, $14.95), that actually foreshadows the chaos surrounding the Al Gore/George W. Bush slugfest.

In the book, Robert Colfax, the protagonist, won the popular vote (like Vice President Gore) and was initially awarded an Electoral College majority (similar to the TV networks jumping the gun on election night), but like in real life the results were retracted due to two states' popular vote being awarded prematurely.

And there are other similarities between fact and fiction.

The "conspiracy" that the book's plot exposes (and what remains an unanswered question in the 2000 election) is the extent to which the various parties play a role in influencing and manipulating the final vote tally in an effort to tip the Electoral College to the candidate that would best serve their interests.

Sound familiar?

"My book reveals the tricks that both camps use to alter the election," says Mr. Uldrich, perhaps the only person in the country delighted with the "no winner" outcome of this election.

"Obviously, I feel good about it," he tells Inside the Beltway.

Less Drudge

More bad news for Internet muckraker Matt Drudge, the first to write of an unnamed White House intern's sexual affair with President Clinton.

ABC Radio says it wants out of the evening talk-show business and won't renew its Sunday evening contract with Mr. Drudge. Earlier, the Fox News Channel canceled Mr. Drudge's television show.

Still no recount

What a week for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert. Not only was he unanimously re-elected speaker, but thanks to a lucky draw he'll soon have more spacious working quarters.

Every two years, for a variety of reasons, congressional offices become vacant on Capitol Hill. For incumbent lawmakers who desire new digs, a lottery is held. Those drawing the lowest numbers choose the nicest offices.

This week, 25 numbers (one through 25) were placed in a hat. Mr. Hastert allowed staff assistant Eric Raasch the honors, and wouldn't you know he pulled No. 1.

So, Mr. Hastert will move from his cramped second-floor office (view of the courtyard) in the Rayburn Building to a roomy third-floor corner office (sweeping view of the U.S. Capitol).

Better yet, nobody is demanding a recount.

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