THE BEARDLESS WONDER
Florida loser Al Gore was recently in Chicago to attend a funeral and stopped by a Starbucks for a boutique cup'a'joe. He started shaking hands and smiling to people in the coffee shop, but no one seemed to realize he was who he was, and just kind of laughed and pointed. "Everyone thought he was an impersonator," says a Starbucks barrista. "I guess everyone thought the real Al Gore still had the beard."
Nor did Gore appear to realize the joke was on him. He just nodded and smiled and laughed along with everyone else.
NEVER HEARD OF THE GUY
Erskine Bowles is frustrating North Carolina Republican attempts to tar him with his work for Bill Clinton. For months Republicans have been challenging Bowles, a Democratic Senate primary candidate, to admit publicly that he was Clinton's chief of staff. Bowles has only gone so far as to admit that he "worked for the Clinton administration." In TV commercials, Bowles has run pictures of himself shaking hands with Republican leader Trent Lott.
Now Bowles is running an ad that shows a photo of him speaking with Clinton on Air Force One. But according to Democratic Party insiders, that picture was included at the request of the party over Bowles's objections. "He didn't want Clinton in the commercial," says a state party advance staffer. "But the party was saying, 'If we're helping you on this campaign, you damn well better use your Clinton connection to your advantage.' The party doesn't seem to understand that it's to his advantage NOT to play up his Clinton connection. No one else is, so why should he?"
What good is it to have friends and mates in high places? Senate hopeful Elizabeth Dole has been angling to get shots of herself standing on the deck of the battleship USS North Carolina, which is docked in Wilmington and on permanent display as a World War II memorial. She's been blocked at every turn by state officials who oversee the floating museum. So she went to husband Bob Dole, hoping his interceding with Pentagon officials would lead them to pull strings with Navy personnel to allow her on board with camera and production crews for a commercial shoot. But Pentagon staff would have none of that. Dole was sunk.
HEADLESS IN ARABY
Aides traveling with Vice President Dick Cheney were offered an opportunity to witness several beheadings while touring through Saudi Arabia. Cheney nixed those invitations, telling his people that it would be unseemly for Americans to attend such brutal executions. "He thought the press would use our presence at or interest in the executions as fodder back home," says one staffer on the trip.
But while Cheney's people apparently found other things to do with what little downtime they had, that didn't stop reporters traveling with them from making their way to the beheadings and spectating.
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