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Inside Politics Weekend: Gore’s solar houseboat

- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ahoy there

For everyone tooling around in their Donzis today, this one's for you.

Al Gore has a new houseboat called "Bio-Solar One," and yes it has solar panels and maybe will use ethanol, according to WKRN, an ABC affiliate in Nashville.

The craft is docked at a marina on Center Hill Lake, about 70 miles east of Nashville, and is described by the manufacturer as the "Prius" of houseboats, according to correspondent Jerry Barlar, who managed to scramble aboard for an inspection before the former vice president took her out for a spin.

The boat is rumored to be so "fuel efficient," according to a Gore spokeswoman, that it only needs a fill-up once a year. But Mr. Barlar contended there is already a mystery.

"Employees here don't know where he'll get the ethanol. There are only gas pumps here," he said.

Aloha Hillary

Anyone pining to know who Sen. Barack Obama will choose for his running mate most likely must wait until the Illinois Democrat returns from his Hawaiian vacation, which started Friday.

His closest confidants told the Financial Times that the mystery veep hopeful is still under wraps.

"It is unlikely a running mate will be selected before the candidate returns from a week's holiday in Hawaii," the newspaper notes. "That leaves about 10 days until the start of the Democratic party convention in Denver."

And no one is murmuring, in the meantime.

"In addition to Michelle Obama, the candidate's inner circle consists of just three people: David Axelrod, his senior strategist, David Plouffe, his campaign manager, and Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser. All three are intensely loyal and discreet Obama professionals."

The Times also posited the notion that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "has made a comeback" - and could be near the top of the heap.

Asleep at the wheel

The presidential race is nearly asleep, according to CNN political analyst Gloria Borger

"Campaigns use the summer lull to test their messages and strategies. It's also the time when candidates road-test messages, strategies, speeches and ads for the general election. Not to mention the fact that it's the run-up to the all-important party convention, and the time when the candidates pick their running mates."

That way, by the fall, each party nominee will be a "man in full," with a ticket, a message and a game plan. That is, if all goes well, Ms. Borger observes.

"During this summer interlude, the McCain campaign made a key strategic decision. Turn the fact that this campaign is about Barack Obama into a virtue. McCain advisers believe it's better for them if this election is a referendum on Obama rather than on President Bush," Ms. Borger continues.

Mr. Obama, meanwhile, can announce his running mate and get the show on the road, or wait until the Democratic national convention 15 days from now for some dramatic effect.

"All of which brings us back to this summertime thing: The lull is with us and the Olympics are upon us. Americans are headed on vacation and when they're not engaged in the campaign, the polls stagnate. They will start moving again, no doubt about it. But for now, the candidate noise is all in the background."

By the numbers

Observers suggest that the presidential election could prompt meaningful dialogue about race in America. Here are some new findings:

75 percent of Hispanics, 73 percent of whites and 85 percent of blacks agree that if Sen. Barack Obama is elected, it would be one of the most important advances for blacks in the past 100 years.

56 percent of Americans overall say racism against blacks is widespread in the U.S.

78 percent of blacks, 59 percent of Hispanics and 51 percent of whites agree.

67 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of Republicans say racism against blacks is widespread.

41 percent of Americans overall say racism against whites is widespread in the U.S.

42 percent of whites, 36 percents of blacks and 36 percent of Hispanics agree.

46 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Democrats say racism against whites is widespread.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,935 adults, conducted June 5 to July 5 with a margin of error of four percentage points.

Days of yore

It's Herbert Clark Hoover's birthday, born Aug. 10, 1874. A Republican, he was elected our 31st president in 1928, at age 54. He ran against New York Gov. Alfred E. Smith and won with 21 million popular votes to Smith's 15 million and an electoral margin of 444 to 87. Hoover lived to be 90 and died in his suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.

On this day in 1949, the National Military Establishment was renamed the Department of Defense. It also is the 15th anniversary of the swearing in of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second female Supreme Court justice.

On Aug. 10, 1994, President Clinton claimed presidential immunity in asking a federal judge to dismiss a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Paula Corbin Jones, a former Arkansas state employee. And on this day in 1995, Norma McCorvey- alias "Jane Roe" in the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion - announced she had joined the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.

Quotes of note

"I asked Barack what he wanted for his birthday. He said, 'Just three things: Indiana, Colorado and Virginia.'" - Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, in Politicker.

"Why did I start running for president? I got hit on the head with a rock." - Sen. Barack Obama, to a 7-year-old at a town-hall meeting in Indiana.

"Exxon John." - New nickname for Sen. John McCain, courtesy of the Democratic National Committee.

"Not long ago a couple hundred thousand Berliners made a lot of noise for my opponent. I'll take the roar of 50,000 Harleys any day." - Sen. John McCain, during a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@ washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.