- The Washington Times - Friday, December 15, 2000

Bill's bill

Uh-oh. President Clinton walked out without paying a bill over in not-so-jolly England.

Yesterday, Mr. Clinton spent 45 minutes in Portabello Gold, a posh London pub nibbling Cajun shrimp, a fancy sandwich and some organic lager. But only nibbling.

"A little bit, not much," Mr. Clinton told pub owner Mike Bell. "I have to stay awake to give a speech today. I stayed up late last night, watching Vice President Gore and Governor Bush give their speeches on television."

Though the electricity had been cut off in the neighborhood and there was a ruckus between an oyster delivery man and security people, Mr. Bell gamely tried to make the president feel at home.

There was a warm fire and convivial company, plus prawns, trout and pate for the Secret Service. The bill came to $37.

"Who picks up the tab for this?" Mr. Bell demanded, according to several wire reports. There were no replies. The owner was not pleased and later described the scene as "total chaos."

"They bloody well did not pay," he said, though one account claimed he had offered the president the fare on the house. Things got calmer.

"I've got an address of someone in America I can send the bill to," Mr. Bell said later, though he did not specify if it was 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Food for thought

Mentioned on Page 20 of The Washington Post yesterday: "[President-elect George W.] Bush also plans to provide reassurance with appointments and nominations of Democrats and longtime hands. For example, Republicans close to the campaign say Bush is considering inviting Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers, who was nominated by President Clinton in May 1999, to remain in his post."

Al's gonna rise again

Even though Vice President Al Gore lost the election in his own home state, some folks won't give up the fight down in Carthage, Tenn. Many are keeping their "Al Gore for President" signs up.

"My signs are never gonna come down," said Charlie Carter, who owns a barbershop in Mr. Gore's birthplace.

Others are more enterprising.

"I'm going to have new buttons made up that say 'Gore in Four' and 'Don't blame me, I voted for Gore,' " noted Bill Markum, who sells Gore-abilia in his store on the town square.

Over at the appliance store, though, Republicans rule no Gore stuff there.

"We won," said D.T. McCall, who owns the store. "We're in great shape."

George in, Bill out

The Wall Street Journal has offered the first "Ins-Outs" list of the new Bush era. Entries include:

Barbara Bush is in, Barbra Streisand is out. The Gipper is in and Tipper is out. Denim jackets are in, stained dresses are out. Tacos are in, Big Macs are out.

Missile defense is in, legal defense is out. And by the way, "FOB" now means "Friends of Bush" not "Friends of Bill."

Taking aim

The state of Michigan yesterday "easily" passed a measure giving law-abiding adults the right to a concealed-weapons permit.

The change takes effect next summer. "County gun boards would have to issue concealed-weapons permits to applicants who are at least 21, don't have criminal records or histories of mental illness and complete eight hours of certified instruction," reported the Detroit News.

Guns, however, will not be welcome in churches, schools, child care centers, hospitals and college dorms; felons are excluded, as are drunken drivers.

The measure is not without critics, though. The Michigan State Police, the Detroit Police Department and suicide-prevention groups oppose the bill's passage.

"They told me I had to get robbed to get a permit," one elderly man told the Detroit News, who welcomes the chance to get a permit. "I told them I'd be dead before I got one."

With pen in hand

Though she hasn't written a word yet, the publishing world is still a-twitter over Sen.-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton's book deal.

According to one independent New York literary agent, the deal now stands at $8.5 million, with such heavy hitters as Penguin Putnam, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Simon & Schuster and Miramax Talk Media Books in the running.

Mrs. Clinton, the agent said, wants it in "one unprecedented lump sum," before Dec. 31 so that she does not run afoul of Senate ethics rules.

The Senate, however, is already on it and has urged "Senator-elect Clinton to forsake any book advance and take only copyright royalties from any book deal," according to the New York Times.

Mrs. Clinton's spokesman, Howard Wolfson, insists that she will comply with all Senate rules, and that an "advance would simply represent the market value of her book." She just wants to "share her experiences," he said.

Bush book No. 1

What a difference a day makes. There's already a book out on George W.

Published yesterday by Simon & Schuster, "George W. Bush," is an on-line "e-book" for middle school priced at $5; a paper version will be out in January.

"Ever since election night, George had known that his victory would be one of the narrowest ones in American history," author Beatrice Gromley writes.

"But George was confident he could handle this difficult presidency, because he had a talent for working well with Democrats in Texas. Ever since he was a boy, he'd had a talent for getting along with people for persuading and leading."

The hidden bloc

Military absentee voters and veterans concerned about national security played a pivotal role in President-elect George W. Bush's victory. "I believe there can be no doubt that active-duty military people and veterans were instrumental in determining the outcome of this election," said Ray G. Smith, national commander of the American Legion.

"I am seeking authority from my board of directors to have a comprehensive statute drafted that will ensure that military absentee ballots are handled uniformly and accurately across the nation," Mr. Smith said.

"Legionnaires will be working with Congress and local state legislators to introduce and enact appropriate legislation to avoid the partisan politics we've seen in play this election with regard to military absentee ballots," he added.

A tradeoff

Amidst all the media gushing about Vice President Al Gore's concession speech comes a quizzical review from Jacob Weisberg of the on-line journal Slate.

The vice president "sought courtesy at the expense of candor," Mr. Weisberg noted.

"Is it ungracious of me to discern something false in Gore's upbeat tone and presentation? He seemed to me like a man who smiles to keep from crying. Of course, it wouldn't be appropriate for Gore to curse the gods or hurl imprecations at the victor. But by burying the emotions he must be feeling anger, outrage, and the sense that he was the victim of massive injustice I think Gore failed the test of sincerity."

On line on target

While the Internet is often seen as a forum for unsubstantiated rumors, one group believes in it.

Harris Interactive the on-line arm of the polling giant Harris outperformed every telephone survey and state forecast conducted during this year's election.

The group was 99 percent accurate in predicting 73 political contests. Between Oct. 30 and Nov. 6, Harris polled more than 300,000 people the largest on-line election study to date.

"In average percentage points," noted industry analysts at Research Business Report, "on line outperformed phone polls. Harris Interactive was off an average 1.8 percent for Gore and 2.5 percent for Bush. Phone polling was off 3.9 points on the average Gore percentage and 4.4 for Bush."

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