- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2000

Dewey wins!

First, we reported that Texas Gov. George W. Bush has requested official street closures around the state Capitol in Austin on Nov. 8 the day after Election Day.

Apparently some sort of celebration is in the works.

Now look at what we've uncovered, two weeks before Election Day and two months before the presidential inaugural: "Bush-Cheney Inauguration" paraphernalia, complete with the "official" inaugural seal.

The official seal?

"Yes, the same seal that caused all of the legal battles with the Clinton Inaugural in 1996," Brian Harlin, Washington-based owner of GOPShoppe.com, tells Inside the Beltway.

It was Mr. Harlin, a Republican, who in 1997 held in his pocket the seal to President Clinton's inauguration.

You see, when the Presidential Inaugural Committee's trademark of the official inaugural seal expired in 1995, Mr. Harlin was the first to successfully apply for it.

Shortly thereafter, he received a letter from Mr. Clinton's inaugural committee saying he wasn't allowed to use the seal.

Think again, Bubba.

"Our lawyers responded that President Clinton's inaugural committee had no grounds," says Mr. Harlin. "We did it all legally."

Still, not wanting to spoil Mr. Clinton's party, Mr. Harlin went ahead and allowed the president use of the seal (Al Gore is another story, so we won't go there).

Mr. Harlin tells us the new "Bush-Cheney Inauguration" buttons are dated on the lip, to show they were produced prior to the election. Not only are they limited in quantity, he says, but if Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney come up short next month they could one day be worth a fortune.

Carpetbagger calling

Only recently did Rep. Rick Lazio start chasing the carpet Hillary Rodham Clinton rode to New York aboard.

And it might be paying off for him.

Last week, the Republican senatorial candidate put out two new television ads in which ordinary New Yorkers were asked to "name three things Hillary Clinton has done for New York."

The locals we saw couldn't think of anything.

Now, in the days since the ad blitz began, Mrs. Clinton's once-impressive poll numbers have started to drop. The latest Zogby poll, in fact, has the two candidates virtually deadlocked.

Pause for potatoes

Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne was so impressed with this column's "dogged reporting" of his visit to Washington earlier this month that he sent us not one, not two, but 100 souvenirs from his state.

Actually, all we did was pinpoint and for good reason the governor's whereabouts at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill, where in the adjacent Irish pub, The Dubliner, Mr. Kempthorne was ceremoniously honored with several potato dishes.

(The hotel actually wanted to find out if the Idaho governor preferred Irish potatoes over his state's signature crop).

"Idaho spuds win hands-down with all due respect to the fine folks at The Dubliner," Mr. Kempthorne now writes in his letter accompanying the souvenirs. "But don't just take my word for it."

Enter the mailman and a box of Idaho potatoes that weighed 70 pounds. By our count, 104 spuds.

"Bon appetit," writes Mr. Kempthorne.

Actually, it's been a tough year for the Idaho governor, which is why we thought it smart to keep track of him while he was in Washington.

While visiting Taiwan not long ago on an Asian trade mission, Mr. Kempthorne was sleeping soundly on the top floor of the 25-story Grant Hyatt Regency in Taipei when the island's strongest earthquake in decades nearly tossed him out of the window.

"I think many of us thought we might be done for," the governor said of the magnitude-7.6 quake, which "increased in intensity until you were virtually thrown from the bed."

Hundreds of islanders died and thousands more were injured, but the governor got out alive.

Back home, he faced some of the worst forest fires ever to strike Idaho. The state was declared a federal disaster area after more than 700,000 acres were charred.

"Have a look at the potato corn chowder," the governor said, passing along one of his favorite Idaho recipes.

Literate after all

"The world is flat. You can't sell those kinds of books downtown."

Invitation to celebrate the 15th year of "Chapters: A Literary Bookstore," on 15th and K streets NW, in Washington.

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