- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2000

New gig

If there was even a sliver of hope remaining that he could somehow miraculously resurrect his candidacy for president, Sen. John McCain surely realized his race for the White House officially ended this week after his campaign's trustworthy bus driver, Greg, couldn't steer him to Philadelphia and the Republican National Convention.
"He's now driving Aretha Franklin," Mr. McCain informs this column.

GOP leg lifts

Republicans gathering in Philadelphia for the GOP convention say this powwow will be different from those of the past in that no Democratic scalps will be taken.
OK, maybe one. Paul Begala's. He is the former political adviser to President Clinton.
"Begala will be the fire hydrant at this dog show," Oliver North, the ex-Marine, former Reagan aide and one-time Virginia Republican senatorial candidate, tells this column. "Which is a role I will assume in Los Angeles for the Democratic National Convention," Mr. North says.
Mr. North and Mr. Begala go head-to-head each weeknight over the cable channel MSNBC.

Short senator

Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee has come to his party's convention, of course.
In fact, until recently, Mr. Thompson was on George W. Bush's short list for vice president.
No small feat, given the actor-turned-politician first supported Lamar Alexander, the former governor of Tennessee, for president; then backed Sen. John McCain until he withdrew from the race; and finally, with only one horse left in the running, placed his bets on the Texas governor.
At one convention cocktail reception this week, Mr. Thompson recalled the previous presidential race when Republican Bob Dole was battling President Clinton and Mr. Dole was continuously being asked, "who was on his short list" for vice president.
Obviously tired of being pestered, and not ready to disclose his eventual pick — former congressman and Housing secretary Jack Kemp — Mr. Dole replied: "Barbara Mikulski."
He was referring to Maryland's Democratic senator, who stands at 4-foot-11.
After he heard the response, Mr. Thompson said he "didn't ask anymore."

Romulans revenge

Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan will know better next time than to ship a box of clocks to his state's delegates, gathered in Philadelphia for the Republican National Convention.
An alert employee of the Adam's Mark Hotel, where the boxes of clocks arrived ahead of the delegates, heard a lot of ticking and alerted police. Hotel guests were immediately evacuated, including a conference of Star Trek fans clad head to foot in costume.
Within an hour, the bomb squad declared the hotel — but not the universe — bomb free.

Star search

Not all of the entertainment industry leans left. A few stars and such who have RSVP'd for this 37th Republican National Convention:
Bo Derek, film icon and star of the 1979 comedy "10";
Bruce Willis, star of The Sixth Sense and Die hard;
Rick Schroder, star of NYPD Blue
Ben Stein, host of Comedy Central's quiz show Win Ben Stein's money;
Hank Williams Jr., country music legend;
Brooks and Dunn, country music's dynamic duo;
Jon Secada, Cuban-born rhythm-and-blues vocalist;
The Delfonics, legendary R&B; group;
Nicole Johnson, Miss America 1999;
Chaka Khan, recording legend;
Steve Young, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback;
Last, and in no way least: The Rock, World Wrestling Federation superstar.

Newt's ghost

Leave it to PBS to steal some of the Republican convention spotlight by holding a "sneak preview" — at Independence Mall in Philadelphia — of the documentary film, "The Fall of Newt Gingrich."
Running time of the political thriller: about 85 minutes.

Waste of time

For anybody who believes conventions are a waste of a political party's time and effort, think again.
Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson tells us that studies show more than 1 in 5 voters will make their decision for president based on what they see during the two major party conventions.
"In fact, as recently as 1988, as many as 29 percent of voters decided how to cast their for president based on what they saw at the national conventions," Mr. Nicholson says.
For union households, he adds, the figures are even higher than the average — "as high as 54 percent," he says.

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