- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2000

Green indeed

Green Party nominee and closet millionaire Ralph Nader thinks Al Gore and George W. Bush should pay a call to each and every state of the union in their pursuit of the White House.
"What about dropping the poll-driven travel schedule at least on the first round of campaigning and treat all citizens of the United States equally by visiting all the states?" Mr. Nader wrote in a letter yesterday to Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush.
The Green guy has some specific spots in mind, too.
Mr. Bush should stop off in Alaska and visit the site of the Exxon Valdez oil spill; Mr. Gore should head to Hawaii to reassure island citizens that President Clinton's recent executive order affecting the state's coral reefs is more than "just talk."
Mr. Nader thinks the vice president should make one more little stop.
Mr. Gore should visit "the only legally authorized industrial hemp garden" and "learn what a great economic boost for farmers, the environment" that a cannabis farm might provide.

The act of abnegating

Though Talk magazine billed former presidential candidate John McCain as a "Republican stud" this month, the Bush folks don't appear to be rattled by his long media shelf life.
Mr. McCain "seems to be working harder at not running for president than some guys do in actually campaigning for the job," the New York Times observed yesterday.
The Arizona senator will arrive at the Republican convention in his old Straight Talk Express bus; Republican campaign officials simply hope to make the most of his "star power" and have no qualms that Mr. McCain would upstage George W. Bush.
Mr. McCain, in fact, won't even be in the crowd when his ex-rival accepts the nomination for president "a sign not of pique, organizers and supporters insist, but of self-abnegation."
Webster's Dictionary, by the way, defines abnegation as "a giving up of rights, self-denial, renunciation."

Just the facts

What do voters pine for in their presidential candidate?
A Princeton Survey released yesterday found that 39 percent said the candidate's "positions on the issues" mattered most followed by character, experience, intelligence, party affiliation and choice of vice president.
But what issues matter?
The economy gets top billing from 21 percent of those surveyed, followed by health care, education, Social Security, taxes, abortion, foreign policy, the environment and Supreme Court nominations.

Russians are coming

A group representing Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the Republican convention in Philadelphia next month, courtesy of Rep. Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican, who finessed the trip.
The group, he says, will be led by Boris Gryzlov of Russia's pro-government Unity group.
"They want to cover both bases," Mr. Weldon said. "I've told the Russians, don't put all your eggs in either party's basket.
"My concern was that Putin was too closely identified with Clinton and, if that continued to happen, Russia could become a whipping boy in the presidential elections," he added.
But the Russians may be on a little fact-finding mission as well.
"They are being told by senior Clinton administration officials that Republicans are going to be harsher on Russians than the current administration," noted Dimitri Simes of the Nixon Center for Peace and Security in the District of Columbia.

When in romaine …

Long lines outside the Rayburn House Office Building attested to the truth of that old Capitol Hill adage, "Feed them, and they will come." Add Playboy playmates, and crowds congregate, even if the hot dogs are faux.
"We've had a phenomenal turnout," said Kristie Sigmon, spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who threw a vegetarian feast yesterday to counter the "invited guests only" lunch sponsored by the American Meat Institute.
PETA promised that two vegetarian Playmates would adorn the event, clad only in lettuce.
Within an hour, nearly 400 of the tofu-based "not dogs" were gone.
"I am hoping that it is on account of the vegetarian food," said Miss. Sigmon.
She conceded that Miss February 1986, Juli McCullough, and Miss February 1988, Kari Whitman, might have helped the turnout.
How many congressmen did the pair serve?
"Tons," said Miss Whitman.
But the former Playmates didn't wear real iceberg, bibb or even arugula . Both wore fake lettuce-leaf tops and miniskirts.

And they can spell, too

Campaign slogan for fast-food restaurant Chick-fil-A, which is spending $5,000 to send people in chicken costumes to the Republican convention for unspecified reasons: "Vote Chikin. Itz Not Right Wing or Left."

Bush on the verge

Texas Gov. George W. Bush said yesterday he was on the verge of picking his running mate and suggested that a vice presidential candidate should pose little political risk to the ticket.

"You want somebody who's not going to hurt you," Mr. Bush said.

A mere 12 days before the opening of the national convention that will formally make him the Republican nominee, Mr. Bush told reporters at an impromptu news conference, "I will make up my mind soon."

Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating has emerged as a favorite of the take-no-chances crowd, though Mr. Bush himself has not said whether he is a candidate.

The two-term Texas governor has winnowed his list and has shared his thoughts with a small number of advisers, all sworn to secrecy. He could announce his decision as early as Monday, the Associated Press reported.

In an interview on his campaign plane Tuesday, Mr. Bush openly ruled out two potential candidates Gen. Colin Powell and Sen. Connie Mack of Florida but stopped and smiled when Dick Cheney, who is heading his search team, was mentioned.

"I'm not going there," he said.

'Hillary didn't send me'

In the latest on the charges that Hillary Rodham Clinton used an anti-Semitic slur to refer to a campaign aide in 1974, the first lady's Senate campaign yesterday faced questions about a memo in which an aide asked supporters to call two Jewish newspapers and hide Mrs. Clinton's role in soliciting the calls.

"It is important that you do not say that you [are] calling because the campaign asked you to, but because you are outraged with what was said about her," said the memo from Karen Adler, a Clinton adviser on Jewish affairs.

According to the Associated Press, when campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson was asked about the memo, he said, "We had received a lot of calls from people who wanted to help."

He wouldn't comment on why the memo asked callers to hide the campaign's role. He also refused to name the memo's recipients. Miss Adler refused all calls.

One of the reporters, Adam Dickter of the Jewish Week newspaper, said the "large number of calls" he received did make him "somewhat suspicious."

But questions must cease, the first lady demanded yesterday.

"I've said all I'm going to say about this. It wasn't true, it didn't happen and I'm not going to allow it to distract from the real issues," Mrs. Clinton told reporters.

But author Paul Fray stuck by his claim that Mrs. Clinton had called him a "Jew bastard," offering on ABC's "Good Morning America" to take a lie-detector test and truth serum.

The first lady was unimpressed. "He can do whatever he wants to do. I have nothing to say about it," she said later.

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