Washington Prowler

Al on Remainder

Counting every reader isn't what the Gores had in mind. Plus: GOP rookie jockeying. Also: An admiral off his guard.

By 11.24.02

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COUNTING EVERY READER
Al Gore is said by associates to be surprised that his newest books on family aren't selling well. The pair of books co-written with wife Tipper Gore (one of them is a coffee-table book intended to serve as companion to the "heavier" tome) are apparently headed toward the remainder bin as bookstores move more popular and potential Christmas gift fare into the line of sight of customers.

"We aren't selling any," says a sales associate for Borders Books in Bethesda, Maryland. "And we thought given that this is kind of a political book and that it's by Gore that it would sell in this area."

It hasn't worked out that way. The audiences at Gore's book signings have been skimpy, and worse, those that do come to hear him haven't been buying the books. In San Francisco, Gore's appearances were met by crowds of people apparently rounded up by his former Northern California presidential campaign staff. "We were invited to come and cheer him on," says a former volunteer. "We were chanting, 'Gore in 2004,' and he loved it. But I wasn't going to buy the book."

The Gore books haven't yet cracked the New York Times bestseller list after more than three weeks in stores, an indication that it won't make the list. "They tried getting them [The Sunday New York Times Book Review] to list it as a book in the 'Bear in Mind' section, so at least it would make the page where the bestseller list is placed, but we couldn't even get that," says a former Gore aide. "It's another indication the public isn't buying Gore as a serious candidate in 2004."

The Prowler won't go so far. We see it as an indication that the American public is still in recovery from Earth in the Balance.

QUICK STARTERS
What a cooperative group the Republicans in the Senate have become. This week, look for Senator-elect Jim Talent to be sworn in by a federal judge in Missouri. The procedural swearing in -- before the official swearing in on January 7th -- will give the Republican a slight edge on seniority when the full body takes shape a little over a month from now. At least Talent is laying claim to a seat that by rights became his as soon as his victory over appointed Sen. Jean Carnahan was certified.

But it isn't just the Missouri seat where the GOP is trying to give its newer members an edge. Texas Sen. Phil Gramm plans to step down later this week so his replacement, John Cornyn, can have a jump on some of his colleagues in the race for better office space.

And even an independent seems to be getting into the game. Minnesota's Dean Barkley has told the transition staff for Norm Coleman that he's open to stepping aside so that Coleman can perhaps match Cornyn in seniority.

BOOMER RUNS AGROUND
Rear Admiral John Stufflebeam, the former Pentagon spokesman who now commands the Navy's Carrier Battle Group Two, seemed a little confused when he briefed reporters aboard the USS Harry S Truman last week. Asked about the role Iran is playing, if any, in helping the U.S. campaign against Iraq, he referred to the nation's Republican Guard. Sorry Admiral, those are Saddam's troops; the Revolutionary Guard are the Iranians.

Maybe the seafaring "Boomer," as Stufflebeam is affectionately known, gets confused about land forces. The Prowler hears he also was a bit lax on the official military line about waiting for orders from the White House, and spoke as if a U.S. attack were a certainty. Or was that just good Navy preparedness?

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