The VP Factor & Other Boring Summer Political Tales – Political satirist, James Campion attempts to explain Dick Chaney.

Aquarian Weekly 8/9/00 REALITY CHECK

THE VP FACTOR & OTHER BORING POLITICAL SUMMER TALES

By Tuesday morning of the last week in July, and one week before the shiny happy ones congregate in the City of Brotherly Love to coronate a man they’ve been calling Captain Shoe-In for 15 months, the word came over the wire that George W. Bush had completed the Republican ticket for the 2000 run.

It was a 59 year-old Washington stalwart named Dick Cheney, whom the opposition will certainly remind the public served under the first, under whelming Bush administration, and voted to protect every kill machine known to modern man as Congressman deluxe for the enlightened state of Wyoming, but the home team will sell as a moderate, sober and eminently capable statesman.

Realistically, it is a sane frontrunner choice. Mid-summer polls still show Bush running four to five points ahead of the current vice president with a healthy 10-point bulge among registered types.

Strangely, and perhaps this is because the Gore camp hasn’t come up with a serviceable strategy or their candidate has yet to warm up the attack engines, Bush possesses the best of both worlds. He is the outsider, a champion of change and honor in the reeking fumes of scandal and distrust, while simultaneously acting as favorite. This is an interesting problem for the man trying to take credit for the best U.S. economy ever witnessed without the benefit of a major war.

Although many in the party leaned heavy for what they thought would be the final nail in Gore’s coffin, the majority simply hates McCain. If Bush was behind and needed a jolt, that move makes sense. But he is not behind.

Enter Cheney, innocuous and safe, with hardly a controversial bone in his body. Unlike Colin Powell, an African American with no political experience, Libby Dole, a woman with no political experience, Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Ridge, a stringent pro-choice voter, or the revolutionary loose-lipped John McCain, who leaked his name into the VP ring last week, Cheney is a non-story.

In a win-win move that still has massive independent voter base rumblings, the Arizona Senator slyly put the onus on Bush to wipe clean their messy party-splitting primary battle. If Bush chooses McCain it makes an advertised maverick look like a team player, and if not, the McCain camp gets to see where their candidate stands for the future by studying the fall-out.

But, alas, there will be no fallout. No one with half a brain in the Republican Party wants to screw with a summer lead by reminding anyone of John McCain. Bush had been extremely careful until McCain stole New Hampshire and made the golden boy fight. He has survived nicely, and key advisors thought putting a madman like McCain on the ticket would only pose more questions. Although many in the party leaned heavy for what they thought would be the final nail in Gore’s coffin, the majority simply hates McCain. If Bush was behind and needed a jolt, that move makes sense. But he is not behind.

And that is why the recent history of GOP running mates have made the old boys tremble over the past few weeks.

There is still not one person who was alive to stop it who can explain how the hell confusion could have been a good enough excuse for the 1952 convention to straddle Dwight D. Eisenhower with Richard Nixon, other than the young Senator’s willingness to do everything Ike wanted no part of, like ugly campaigning and hard-nosed governing. The untouchable general almost paid dearly until Nixon chucked any chance for a legacy of respect and humility with his desperate “Checkers Speech”, forcing the would-be president to be chained to this decision for eight long years. The party eventually paid an even larger price for Nixon’s sins.

Before Nixon was done dismantling the U.S. government as it was designed, he chose Spiro Agnew to serve as vice president. Agnew was sent packing under mounds of illegal campaign funds. When the man who succeeded him, Gerald Ford tried running with the pardoning of Nixon around his neck, he was faced with the churning specter of Ronald Reagan in an nasty primary that put Ford at the then California governor’s mercy. Reagan had other plans, so Ford ran a spirited, but doomed campaign with the only Washington Republican left standing, Bob Dole. Four years later Reagan, smelling failure, tucked the man he called a “wimp”, George Bush Sr. under his considerable wing and returned the party back to a crossover-winning proposition.

And then there was Dan Quayle…

But with Dick Chaney, all those terrible nightmares are history. The Cheney pick solidifies the Bush comeback from the primary mess. His man is vanilla squared. Despite being Chief of Staff for the silly Ford administration and a major cog in the now-remembered farce known as Desert Storm as acting Defense Secretary for G.W.’s dad, Cheney helps to allay the fears that Bush is some kind of frat house party animal with a rudimentary grasp of foreign affairs.

Other than a few minor tremors about a supposed social moderate truly being a staunch conservative on key GOP hush-hush issues like abortion and guns, or his record number of heart attacks, no one paid to listen for earthquakes see any reason to believe Cheney will help or hinder Bush. Again, he is in the lead, and due to the fact that his party holds its convention first, he had to come with a name that didn’t rock the boat. The choosing of a vice president without a major voice or key state to carry come November is one way to carefully nurture the momentum.

Now it’s onto the convention to parade the rest of the gang before CNN and go about not losing to Al Gore.

NEXT WEEK – GEORGETOWN REPORTS FROM THE CONVENTION

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BLAZO!! – The “Never” Solution & Other Bizarre Revelations – gonzo author James Campion probes the inner sanctum of mysterious cyber crazies.

Aquarian Weekly 8/2/00 REALITY CHECK

THE “NEVER” SOLUTION& OTHER BIZARRE REVELATIONS ABOUT BLAZO!! PART II – (read part I)

The room became eerily quiet, the way it would in an old-time movie when the stoic captain addresses a ship of doomed men. That’s when Mighty Chief Wonka leaned forward, closing his left eye, and poked his cane in my direction. “Einstein never slept,” he began. “The man dressed in the same goddamn suit everyday, subsisted on an inordinate amount of fish and collapsed in a heap on more than one occasion!”

More silence.

“But in the end,” he continued. “Someone was better off for it! That is what we aspire to here in the hub of grandeur, the glowing talisman of hope, the graduation of wit and art! That is what it means to loyal BLAZOists worldwide!”

It went on like that for over 20 excruciating minutes, complete with obtuse references to defunct civilizations, vague Angus Young memories and a list of women Picasso turned down. Completing the diatribe with a deep breath, the Chief intertwined reasons for the death of television as we know it. Not that it meant actually killing anyone at the major networks, but after it was done, it was hard for me to tell the difference between literal and figurative death.

Looking on with rapt attention were those making up the BLAZO!! inner circle; two well-attired dwarfs, a manic middle-aged grump called Bart Francis and the pacing spectre of Kaptain Karl. These were men that Chief Wonka referred to on several occasions as the “chosen ones”, capable of understanding every detail of this kinetic hyperbole.

Of course, even that snapshot of circus maximus seemed ordinary in the shadow of the gentleman who entered the room next. He was over six-foot and wide-bodied in an intimidating, but fun-soaked way, with a wild tuft of jet-black curls swaying atop a deeply carved, but round face, interrupted by penetrating dark eyes. His brightly multi-colored Hawaiian shirt billowed as he strode through the group, his bushy eyebrows raised in pulsing anticipation.

The Chief spread his arms, and with a powerful grin, shouted, “It is Beautiful Chaz, the walking quintessence of the word…LOVE!!”

Beautiful Chaz engulfed the sizable Chief Wonka in his gripping hug, then spun around with surprising swiftness and pointed in my direction. “Don’t tell me who this is…” he hissed, hesitating and then bending into a crouch to commence a awkward duck walk across the room toward me. “Is this that friggin’ loooon, Campion,” he spit out, laughing maniacally. “Let me show the boy where we’re at!” And that is exactly what Beautiful Chaz did.

And as I followed him throughout the operation, laid out like a maze in separate parts of the BLAZO!! castle, my pen was moving rapidly upon a small pad hidden in my oversized shirt. With every journalistic instinct I could muster amidst the unfolding circumstances, these are the actual notes I scribbled down:

Strange staircases…winding, stone pillars. A large room filled with hunched artists scratching out crude, but amusing figures. Angry animators punching monitor screens and baying like wolves in heat. A chamber beyond with hollowed walls filled with candy and a sizable soda fountain (literally a fountain as in a park). Here several men in navy blue suits communicate to each other via long bullhorns with the words…TAKE NO PRISONERS posted on them. A twenty-foot mural of Chief Wonka looms behind them with one word written in script…SMILE.

A short ride in an elevator decorated in plaid wallpaper (very ill, almost woozy from the ride) up to an attic lair for writers – horribly mutated men and women with sunglasses lurching back from the shifting light in the room. Beautiful Chaz, laughing wildly, slips me a blue pill. “Right you up,” he says. I am reticent, but tired of the spins, so I swallow it. One dwarf hands me back the mini-tape recorder he’d stolen from my jacket and tells me to press play. Twisted melody chimes from the tiny speaker. La-la-la-la-la-la. Over and over. Walls moving. Chaz’s head getting larger and larger. I’m blacking…

Wake up in a massive media room with hundreds of television screens playing one thing: A man dressed in a business suit with a monitor for a head is dancing around a lime green hallway. His face pulses different messages…Never ask you to conform…Never ask you to kill for a pair of Nikes…. Never ask you to shave your head, wear a sheet, hang in airports…Never ask you to drink the kool aid, carve images into your forehead, move to Montana…Never ask you to listen to the Beatles White Album backwards…

Suffice to say, no man should have to endure such cryptic lunacy, but this was something I should’ve decided before putting my name on a contract beneath the BLAZO!! logo. Nothing else I remember about the evening made the type of sense sufficient for a cohesive story. This has always been the legacy of this space from politics to showbiz and back. Even an afternoon with the mutants running the Hillary campaign was less harrowing than what goes on behind the walls of BLAZO!!

As a postscript, and before my visit ended, I structured the utter silliness I’d witnessed into what amounts to a rambling manifesto that currently sits on the Internet at blazo.com, all the while Chief Wonka peering over my shoulder and whispering key phrases and clever aphorisms. But he never asked for blood, and for that I’m more than grateful, because every revolution has its casualties, and as close as I came to this one, I’m glad to not be counted.

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Republican National Convention – Political satirist, James Campion’s wise-ass Philly excursion.

Aquarian Weekly 7/26/00 REALITY CHECK

Republican National Convention 2000GEORGETOWNON THE FLOOR

For the first time in 52 years, the Republican Party held its convention in the City of Brotherly love in order to anoint George W. Bush its 2000 presidential candidate. Due to a glut of parking infractions and incidents stemming from one peculiar night in 1982 whilst attending a Muddy Waters show, the Reality Check News & Information Desk was unable to be properly represented. But our primary GOP source, the always gregarious, Georgetown did attend, and although he despises journalists, somewhere between cocktail hours and gratuitous speeches, here is a synopsis of his nightly inside report.

jc: I’m going to come right out and ask this. Did you beat a Texan named Bubba with pom poms?

GT: During the first roll call Monday, some asswipe from Austin stepped on my fucking foot and started screaming “Keyes! Keyes! Death to Tyrants!” This went on for the 20 minutes it took for Texas Lt. Gov. Rick Perry to ask for his state’s delegates to cast their vote. So we beat that red neck with pom poms until security escorted him into the lobby.

jc: How big were these pom poms?

GT: I don’t remember, but the guy came back three hours later with this goofy smile on his face and about thirty or forty Bush/Chaney buttons plastered all over him. But it wasn’t just me.

Nobody was crazy about Powell’s “Affirmative Action” stuff. I thought it was ballsy.

jc: Where were you when the final tally came in at about 10:03 Wednesday night?

GT: Right in the middle of that friggin’ Ralph Nader insurrection We heard a CSPAN intern gave him a press credential and he started having an anti-Bush conference right in the middle of the floor. Meanwhile, that moron from Wyoming kept going on and on bashing Clinton and they’re flashing live shots of George and Laura all over the joint. It was chaos.

jc: Was that the week’s biggest noise on the floor?

GT: Nah. A platform committee for “Pro-choice” Republicans motioned to the floor for a debate on incest and wound up dealing with Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Ridge who told them in no uncertain terms that it was nice of them to attend but it was time to come to grips with the fact that “this party can no sooner bend on ‘pro-life’ than jamming half-assed gun laws down the collective throat of three-quarters of this country’s taxpayers.” Then he went home to meet Bush and do a live hook-up from Eisenhower’s office in Gettysburg. That’s how tight a barge we were running, son.

jc: Conspicuously absent from the proceedings were Dan Quayle, Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich and Christine Todd Whitman.

GT: No one needs to see Danny Boy. Ford and Dole were enough fuck-up reminders. I wanted to kill someone if they mentioned one more time in that documentary that Ford brought the country out of the darkness. And there’s a new rule that Robertson is not allowed near any televised party shindigs until after November 7.Bible is out, military is in. Gingrich? He’s a talking head now and Whitman is pro-choice. Next.

jc: No bad-vibe Gingrich tough guys.

GT: We’re getting elected this time around.

jc: We heard Ford’s stroke Tuesday night was caused by someone whispering in his ear that his tribute was going to celebrate the pardoning of Nixon.

GT: Funny. The man is 87, and we heard it was a sinus attack. Now they say he had two strokes. Poor bastard. And by the way, you forgot to mention that Lazio wasn’t present. Good move. He’s bucking the national spotlight for his constituency. Hillary has to go to their convention and, once again, looks like the carpetbagger she is. I was at the meeting for that one.

jc: What is this bullshit about delegates bowing their heads when Arizona congressman, Jim Kolbe gave his speech Tuesday night?

GT: The gay thing? Listen, inclusion is one issue, and his presence speaks to that, but we were not getting into anti-platform agendas. Did you hear those hoots emanating from the Log Cabin Republicans about gay rights and appointments to the cabinet? Probably not, since they were squelched by the University of Temple marching band cranking a dead-on original version of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. It was so moving Jeff Greenfield stopped drinking for a minute to listen.

jc: Your assessment of the media coverage?

GT: Tight as a battle ship, baby. The networks didn’t get a crack at anyone not cleared by the Bush people. Fuck Peter Jennings and that sap, Russert. I know you like Koppel, but he’s another cheap lapper. He spent a half an hour one night reminding G.W. that his father was president. What a crank. This was our house, and not one of these media outlets had a goddamn clue what was really going on. Got Nancy Reagan in and out without a whisper. NBC blew the shot of her exiting and they were pissed.

jc: Let’s get to the speakers. Anyone do the job?

GT: Nobody was crazy about Powell’s “Affirmative Action” stuff. I thought it was ballsy. Schwarzkopf from the USS New Jersey listing military drop-offs under the Clinton Administration was humorous. But not nearly as humorous as The Rock. What a fucking goon. Someone got canned over that idea. Three quarters of his fans are too young to vote.

jc: What about Cheney?

GT: No one was too disappointed in Cheney. He’s a block of wood, but he reminds everyone that this is George Sr.’s revenge. And that’s funny because the conservative wing of this party wanted to murder Bush from ’87 on. Why do you think Buchanan sabotaged the ’92 convention with that insane “culture war” speech that cost us 10 points in 24 hours? Not one of us talked Bush into fighting Clinton harder. We gave up on him and now we’re fighting with their lives to elect his son.

jc: Grade Bush’s speech.

GT: Fair. The transcript was fantastic. I thought he tried too hard not to smirk.

jc: Most moderate Republican speech in history.

GT: The guy is no politician. Reagan he will never be, but he pulled the agenda to the left just enough to leave all that primary stuff in the dust. We have the utmost confidence that this will boost his numbers and prepare him for the debates. That’s the final hurdle.

jc: Did this vanilla, non-political convention present a kindler, gentler GOP?

GT: You give us the White House and Capitol Hill and we’ll eat your young.

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Joseph Lieberman & The Great Leap Of Faith – Political satriist, James Campion deconstructs a demogogue VP choice.

Aquarian Weekly 7/26/00 REALITY CHECK

JOSEPH LIEBERMAN & THE GREAT LEAP OF FAITH

The GOP Fan Fest was barely done sweeping up the graffiti tonnage when the phones started to jangle in Nashville. The Gore Camp was fluttering with reaction to the first Republican Convention ripe with minorities and touchy-feely types and an absence of NRA, religious right or impeach-crazed congressmen. An eight-point deficit sunk to a 17-point chasm and the comfort of the front runner and his snoozer running mate brought one answer: SPLASH.

And by firing back with vice presidential candidate, Connecticut Senator, Joseph Lieberman, the current VP has made a big one. The name immediately cut hard into the gaudy Bush numbers, yanking the stunned interns from their seats over at Gallup. By the first full week in August, Al Gore had pulled within 2 lousy points of Captain Shoe-in with a bombast convention of his own pending.

But why did Joseph Lieberman make sense to the panicking democratic minions?

When the day is done, Joseph Lieberman is no different than Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell in the righteous, religious-judgment two-step and had William F. Buckley so juiced a few years back he endorsed him over a Republican candidate for senate.

Firstly, Lieberman is no Dick Cheney. He was the frontrunner’s opening gesture to the conservative wing of the party before the moderate convention, but a bland pick when considering the other, more courageous choices. Lieberman is truly the “wild card” name predicted by anyone willing to go on record after Bush named Cheney.

Gore needed a buzz and Lieberman resonates like an angry wasp’s nest.

Lieberman is a devout Orthodox Jew and a democratic legislator with an arms-length conservative, moralist voting record. And although no one in Washington will offer anything but “honorable” to describe the man, another word lingers inside the beltway, “enigma.” He is a purveyor of moral conduct and religious purity, yet he is a divorcee with an overwhelmingly “pro-choice” voting record.

Moreover, Lieberman secures many liberal circles while standing glaringly on the side of such conservative issues as school vouchers and Bill Bennett’s fascist Empower America crusade against pop culture. He supported George Bush’s Gulf War and was the first democrat to describe the Monica Lewinsky scandal as “immoral and harmful”, but on fiscal concerns he will back Gore’s fears of a GOP controlled congress buoyed by one of their own.

Then again, the Dems have had a history of “wild card” VP candidates from the mentally unstable Tom Eagleton and a woman, Geraldine Ferraro to presidential liabilities like the Catholic Jack Kennedy and the morally bankrupt William Jefferson Clinton. But as the VP’s had a way of killing a ticket, luck has followed the main draws.

If there was one salvo the GOP unloaded on the present administration during its televised centrist show, it was its lack of trustworthiness and moral structure. Lieberman answers that in spades. He is a morality nut and steps right in line with Gore’s corpulent shill of a wife and a PMRC past dripping with condescending “save the children” rhetoric.

But Gore’s attempt here is to seem more caring and less corruptible, and despite the predictable chicken littles moaning about mid-America’s disdain for East Coast Liberal Jews having little to no shot, it is hard to argue that Lieberman isn’t at least a news-making choice.

As discussed in this space for the last year, Al Gore has two main problems.

The first, and most damaging, is that people don’t like him. They don’t want to give him credit for the economy, blindly accept his alleged pristine record with ecology, embrace his repeated denials about campaign finance misappropriations or beam at whatever earth tones he happens to model while canoeing up a man-made creek. The majority of voting types see him as a Washington dupe and a disingenuous lout who would tell anyone anything they wanted to hear to be elected dogcatcher.

This brings us to problem number two: His opponent has brilliantly crafted an image of the one man Gore is trying to separate himself from: Bill Clinton.

Junior’s speech at the convention broke many seemingly unattainable Clinton records for moderate hyperbole. From saving Social Security and Medicare to even mentioning single mothers and inner city children, Bush laid out liberal agenda with a slice of “compassionate conservatism”, going as far as complimenting the president if not for his silly peccadilloes. Everything from his strained attempt at not smiling to avoid the “wise ass smirk” to the passionate call for change reeks of Big Bill at his most eerily phony moments.

Cut through all the polished speech-gunk and George Bush jr. told the nation that he knows what you liked about Bill Clinton and he can provide that and then some, without all the embarrassing perjury aftertaste. New and improved mouthwash in a handy mess-free bottle.

If Gore was the least bit likable, or faced with another stuffed-shirt conservative beast, then Joseph Lieberman is still serving the good people of Connecticut. He certainly isn’t balancing the ticket on battle lines drawn by the GOP convention.

Bush has set the tone thus far. That will change in a presidential campaign. Gore’s flow with the momentum is very reminiscent of Big Bill as well. But this worked with Clinton because he went in knowing he would get a pass by anyone he could entertain for four minutes. The Gore people know that if their man spends half that time with an independent voter he is likely to queer the deal.

When the day is done, Joseph Lieberman is no different than Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell in the righteous, religious-judgment two-step and had William F. Buckley so juiced a few years back he endorsed him over a Republican candidate for senate. But he is Gore’s lightening-in-a-bottle to balance a ticket wherein the presidential candidate has a problem separating ethics with business as usual.

NEXT WEEK: DIBBS BACKSTAGE AT THE CONVENTION

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BLAZO!! Friend of The Different – author James Campion probes mysterious cyber loons

Aquarian Weekly 7/26/00 REALITY CHECK

FRIEND OF THE DIFFERENT – The Horrible Truth About BLAZO!!

At the tip of Northern Jersey sits a rustic castle with streams of ivy climbing up its thick, stone walls. Ghosts of shifty A & R men and their java-soaked secretaries chasing unsuspecting child singers reverberate through its cavernous halls. The demons and vampires that slither along the corridors of network television are shunned here. This is the place where the entertainment world, as we know it, has come to die.

Deep in its bowels, sitting in a multi-colored room behind a giant oak desk is the mysterious Mighty Chief Wonka, a man who has graced this space and many songs and stories of some repute. His is an imposing shadow looming over an operation that has seen fit to carve a slice of the Internet pie with little regard for things like press announcements and pedantic fanfare. I had been summoned to this strange joint to get a handle of what is going on at the main hub of BLAZO!!, the “web company” which bravely acts as publisher for my second book, Fear No Art – Observations on the Death of the American Century. Of course, after several meetings with legitimate publishers, I began to realize how brave this publication truly is for printing this blather every week, and how insane the Chief had become since our initial meeting in a back booth at Kenny’s Castaways in the West Village last Christmas.

That night the Chief sat across from me, flanked by two rather large Russian men wearing fluorescent Tiaras, pounding the table with a thin wooden cane and chipping the surface with its gold handle. “You’re a genius Campion!” he bellowed above the blaring music. “We want to put out your ramblings with a healthy advance check.” I heard nothing else for the entire night, but the words “advance check” floating in the smoky air, and something about meeting a Kaptain Von Karl who was BLAZO!!’s “Minister of Propaganda” sometime in early February in an abandoned warehouse in Bayonne.

The Chief trickled out cryptic clues about what the hell he was doing in his castle on the banks of the roaring Hudson River, but I knew it couldn’t be anything resembling real. There was something cartoonish, but lovable, about the Chief when he began roaring on about the “broken concepts of freedom” and a manifesto I should write that would explain what it is to “praise the child in you and allow for the brat to flourish and the imp to sing the high notes!”

But it served nothing in the way of preparing me for Kaptain Von Karl, a bizarre combination of Alice Cooper and Henny Youngman wrapped up in a diminutive package of trembling lunacy. When I met him in the “abandoned warehouse”, which was more like a vacuous playhouse carpeted in plush orange shag with deep blue walls, he was pacing beneath a naked light bulb and running a stream-of-consciousness rant worthy of Kerouac. He unnerved my signing of the contract with the occasional blurt and twist of his syntax, pondering ways to “spread the disease” and “join the new religion” while incessantly repeating “Do!” to no one in particular. But I’d come for a check, and as the good Chief explained earlier between several cocktails at Kenny’s, the Kaptain was a guru of promotion and once convinced a full convent of nuns to join him in a mosh pit at the old L’Amours rock club in Brooklyn.

But, alas, I deviate from the late afternoon visit to the BLAZO!! castle. Chief Wonka’s bearded dwarves met me at the huge oak doors offering a glass of Pessac-Leognan. Before I had accepted, the two of them had rifled through my jacket for proof that I was a “journalist friend” and not just another “cheap hood” from the Wall Street Journal come to perform anal audits on everything BLAZO!! when all they wanted was “a good time.” The Chief apologized for their behavior, citing the shock treatments they’d been “enjoying during lengthy lunch breaks in the dungeon.”

“Everyone needs his or her brains melted once in a while,” he smirked. But I was distracted by his unusually tall, lavender stovepipe hat that perched precariously on his long mane of black hair.

Once in his office, the Chief plunged into a sizable brown, leather chair behind his desk and let out a thunderous sigh. “What do you need to know from us that Simon & Schuster wasn’t willing to tell you?” he began. “I have yet to speak to the boys and girls at The Aquarian, but from what I gather from that twisted Reality Check gibberish you pen weekly, they have a rather long rope in which to hang themselves.”

“Exactly how do you mean?” I asked.

“I’m a fan of your work, but I also hate your work,” he said.

Strangely, I had dreamed of hearing such duplicity from a publisher. But there was no kidding in the Chief’s voice. He was damn serious.

And so, apparently, was the vice president of BLAZO!!, a rather ornery soul called Bart Francis. Seemingly, his one job was to sit on the phone all day and confuse telemarketers and advertising agents who pummel the BLAZO!! comfort zone by the minute. “Go!” he screamed into the receiver seconds after answering the ring, and then looked quizzically toward the dial tone wafting from the speaker. “Damn lightweights don’t know a thing about negotiations,” he whispered to himself. “Haven’t you ever see a man so in control of his karma that it hurts?” he asked.

And then Chief Wonka explained things.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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Let Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan into Debates – Political satirist, James Campion probes the presidential fringe.

Aquarian Weekly 7/19/00 REALITY CHECK

THE GREAT DEBATE ON DEBATES

“My opponent totally misapprehended the great principles upon which our government rests.” – Stephen A. Douglas – 1858 Debates

“It is most extraordinary that Mr. Douglas would so far forget all the suggestions of justice to an adversary that the slightest investigation would have shown him to be false.” – Abraham Lincoln – Rebuttal

By any poll you’d like to subscribe, Ralph Nader (Green Party Candidate) and Pat Buchanan (Reform Party Rebel) have barely 10% of the national voting attention between them, which by normal democratic standards has reached all-time lows in the past decade. The two men who represent the power parties are, at best, boring puppets, at worst, dangerous dupes of special interests and corporations. Most Americans do not care for politicians and treat the privilege of voting like diseased meat.

To these harrowing facts we offer up our plea: Open the debates wide!

Run by the bag men for the Dems and GOP, the planned debates that will decide the outcome of this egregious abortion of a presidential campaign have put a 15% bottom line for independent party popularity. Nearly destitute in campaign-fund speak, the Green Party and the Reformists have no way to gain the proper motivation to get in the ring with G.W. Bush and Al Gore. These men have taken the riches of King Herod and pissed it away before the second leg of the primaries. And there is a boat load more that says that Nader and Buchanan have as much chance of manning a debate podium as Chuckles The Incontinent Clown.

Time to pull G.W. out of the rich-boy mothballs and kick that lying sack of horse manure, Gore off the Washington pedestal and get them at the corner of muck and mire with extremist crazies who will strip facades and make the bad boys bare their fangs.

But if this was truly a democracy, and anyone with a modicum of energy for this damaged political system gave half a shit, those two wacky love bugs would be chewing up television ratings and putting the whole charade into serious mind-numbing perspective.

And that’s what we need now, folks…perspective. Time to pull G.W. out of the rich-boy mothballs and kick that lying sack of horse manure, Gore off the Washington pedestal and get them at the corner of muck and mire with extremist crazies who will strip facades and make the bad boys bare their fangs.

Nader is already Gore’s worst nightmare. He knows all-too well the vice president’s vacillating two-step with the unions, WTO ass-smooching and the panic appointment of NAFTA poster child, Wiiliam Daly as campaign guru is another in a long line of smoke screens. And Nader is a wild man when it comes to hellfire in the face of phony fundraising scandals, to which Gore is sloughing off like a blushing debutante, while smelling like a rat in a garbage heap.

But that’s a handbag of trouble compared to what Patrick Buchanan would do to the insulated confidence that permeates the Bush camp these days. At least Gore moved to the obligatory middle to paint Bill Bradley as something akin to George McGovern meets Adlai Stevenson at a Commie rally. Junior ignored the middle while he leaned as far right as Barry Goldwater’s ghost would allow in his attempt to embarrass the remains of John McCain.

Bush went right, but now goes the way of “compassionate conservatism” while presiding over the 135th murder by the state of Texas under the always lovely guise of “capitol punishment.” But he gains in the polls because people see Al Gore and think of a jabbering political mannequin willing to sell his soul at a craps game for any vote anyone will give him at any time.

But if Uncle Pat gets across from G.W. it will force him to signify his cloudy thoughts on naughty things like abortion and taxes and gun-weilding, flag-waving Bible zombies wanting to know exactly what the hell he thinks of gay marriages and vigilante border patrols in his home state. Bush will have to fend off both the lefties and their youth-minority-women vote and the radical right who feed him hordes of obscene campaign money. Now we have an exciting battle.

Now we get the voter base. It’s Monday night wrestling and bimbos marrying rich dolts on FOX. We get Regis Philbin cranked on java holding wads of cash and put all four candidates in a cage with dead deer carcasses and photos of nude women. Kid Rock can sing the national anthem.

This is what we want; the real deal. Bush and Gore debating would be like watching some sissy slap-fight, highlighted by sad references to Junior’s loser dad and everything Bill Clinton has denied since he was four years-old. Bad television. Bad politics.

Gore claims to be a great debater. His victories include Dan Quayle (a moron), Jack Kemp (ambushed moderate), Ross Perot (half-mad troll with a bank account), and poor old Bill Bradley (who thought running for president meant having a conscience). All lay-ups. And Bush is a dunk waiting to happen.

Boring.

Bush has a lead now. By the time of this writing it isn’t even Independence Day. Other notable poll leaders in early July include Jimmy Carter in ‘80, Michael Dukakis in ’88 and Bush senior in ‘92. All losers. Very bad losers with one thing in common, a summer of confidence and good poll numbers that lied terribly when the real polls opened. Plenty of time for Bush to blow this. Plenty of time for Al Gore to re-re-invent.

But digression has become the better part of valor here, and although this is only the beginning of 2000 campaign coverage for this space, this reporter will be completely brain-dead by the conventions if some clairvoyant savant doesn’t rescue this abomination and allow maverick psychos like Nader and Buchanan into the arena for a world-class, singsong, salute-my-dog bloodletting.

Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas are long dead. They were debating heavyweights with a grudge and a barb.

Bush and Gore? Not mistaken for quality with any measuring stick.

Wake the echoes.

Open the debates!

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School Prayer and the abuse of God – Pop Culture satirist, James Campion tackles religious hypocracy.

Aquarian Weekly 7/5/00 REALITY CHECK

PIGEONHOLING GOD & OTHER EGO-MAD PURSUITS

On June 19, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in a Texas case that public schools cannot allow student-led prayer. The Sante Fe Independent School District in Galveston had allowed student-initiated and student-led prayer to be broadcast over the public address system before high school football games. The question on trial was whether allowing prayer violates the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which states that Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The pertinent one is why in the name of any supreme being would anyone force mass prayer before an athletic event?

Forgiving Texas, which is best known for the celebration of the gun, the electric chair, snipers in clock towers and a dandy place to murder Catholic presidents, there is little argument that Friday night high school football is something of a religion. But this ridiculous ritual of petitioning faith for victory is as tiresome as this seemingly endless charade of defending the Confederate flag.

Whatever is left of Christianity has been so bastardized and abused in the pursuit of money and power that to speak of it with any public reverence is at best laughable, and, at worst, sickening. Because that’s what this is all about. The suit was originally lead by two unnamed students, one Mormon and one Catholic, and their mothers. The voice of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism or the odd Buddhist is about as welcome at a Texas pigskin affair as a John McCain tailgate party.

In nearly every corner of this planet the effusive rage displayed by misguided religious zealots and fundamentalist lunatics has rendered humanity to the level of beast.

And as oft celebrated in this space, the strong-arm tactics of religious righteousness and untouchable separatism practiced by holy-rollers masquerading as weekend martyrs is damaging and hurtful to those who wish to worship and pray in the comfort of their own belief, away from rabid throngs hoping to watch cousin Billy rip the cranium from his pagan opponent.

We have enough trouble in this nation without jamming religious insanity into the boiling cauldron. In nearly every corner of this planet the effusive rage displayed by misguided religious zealots and fundamentalist lunatics has rendered humanity to the level of beast. This is a republic built on the rights of religious expression to be realized peacefully in the privacy of the establishment built for it or in the cocoon of family and culture. Every time it reaches beyond these parameters we achieve dangerous levels of wretched craziness.

Of course, none of these points was the determining factor in any part of this ruling. “Religious activity in public schools, as elsewhere, must comport with the First Amendment,” wrote Justice John Paul Stevens for the majority. Amendments win over philosophy and silliness most of the time. This was one of those times.

No one on the Supreme Court wanting to remain there would not dare to utter the truths about the misuse of Jesus Christ as a hammer of cultural dominance. Most likely, none of them would even fathom such radical nonsense. This is, after all, a God-fearing country built on the always pleasant idea that God blesses us and damns everyone not with the program. It has allowed the slaughter of Native Americans, burning of women, lynching of blacks, persecution of homosexuals, killing of doctors, jailing of artists and a host of military atrocities abroad.

Again, things are a heck of a lot worse in other parts of the globe, but we live here, and have to face the truth that because of this holier-than-thou attitude buoyed by terribly naive and narcissistic visions of a male deity nodding its approval, there has been a buffet of anguish to choose from.

There is the prevailing argument that preventing a public school from instituting rules is grounds for free-speech abuse, but that is selective deduction on the level of putting safety belts on living room couches.

You want to pray? Recite every psalm King David could muster. You want everyone to stand there and listen to it over a loudspeaker before a friggin’ football game, you’re heading into different territory. They have private institutions for that, and although it’s always amusing seeing a dramatic shot of Touchdown Jesus before Notre Dame takes the field at South Bend, public schools are a government-funded establishment bound to the law of diversity.

And all those who wish to bring heretical anti-religion rhetoric into the equation must remember that every time you want to shoot yourself because you opened the door on an endless Jehovah Witness rant or been detained in an airport by dancing bald men in flowing white robes, you are a practicing member. Or don’t those religious activities matter as much as forced public prayer services?

Next thing you know every maverick theologian with half an idea about existence is demanding that we stand on our heads and do the Tango with a stranger to cajole the blessings of the Lord.

Finally, prayer is what an individual makes of it. Mass prayer in the public arena is not only criminal, it’s asinine. This is tantamount to someone telling you that the only concept of love is fondling muskrats at a beach party while spreading egg salad on your neighbor. If this sounds a bit avant-garde, then explain why a person who sees the beatific spiritual understanding of God as wholly opposite of anything crammed down their throats at a football game is so abhorrent.

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Dr. Laura Schlessinger vs. GLAAD – Pop Culture satirist, James Campion defends Free Speech for all.

Aquarian Weekly 6/14/00 REALITY CHECK

FREEDOM OF SPEECH Case 1,653: Dr. Laura vs. GLAAD

“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”– George Orwell “Animal Farm”

There continues to be a difficulty among Americans as to the veracity of the First Amendment. It is an article of law which gives every citizen of this republic the right to speak one’s mind without the fear of government oppression. This does not include endangering others. It does include upsetting and defaming others with the notable exception of Lord Libel and Duke Slander. Everything else is, as they like to say at 4:00 am on McDougal Street, is “Nothin’ but a pawty.”

Keeping these hard facts and cold logic in our back pockets we shall proceed to yet another case of mistaken constitutional identity by humming charlatans, who, for many strange and puzzling reasons, revisit the terrible tunes that allow for anything anyone says to be swallowed with anything more than a smirk and a cookie.

Ironically, or poetically, Schlessinger finds herself on the same raft caught in a storm front of crazies using the media to drum up enough wild anger to put the fear of the almighty (dollar not God) into the hearts of mother sponsors.

A woman by the name of Laura Schlessinger, who considers herself a doctor and not a performing seal, hosts a talk show baring her name. She uses these daily hours of Marconi’s instrument to disseminate her own words, which she considers wisdom and not a stream of hyperbole meant to boost ratings and gather an audience. Schlessinger is quite adamant about a variance of subjects. She has been very adamant about two particular ones. The good doctor considers homosexuals a “biological error” and unwed mothers “immoral”.

Enter the noisy souls over at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the National Organization For Women (NOW), who have rightfully taken umbrage to these silly musings. These two groups, allowed to pass off their own sillies as wit and wisdom daily, have taken it upon themselves to try and force the good doctor from a pending Paramount produced television show.

Last year Schlessinger went the same route trying to put a halt to a kid’s skateboard magazine and the stores that dared carry something she deemed “immoral” and “deviant” and rapped it all in the guise of saving the children of planet earth. Then she backed out of a CBS deal that would have her working for the same “demons” who employee Howard Stern, harboring a fleeting sense of grandiose self-righteousness saved for television preachers.

Ironically, or poetically, Schlessinger finds herself on the same raft caught in a storm front of crazies using the media to drum up enough wild anger to put the fear of the almighty (dollar not God) into the hearts of mother sponsors.

No sponsors, no show. No show, no Schlessinger. No Schlessinger, no hate mongering toward that tiny corner of the world where boo meets hoo and all the pretty pictures look like the ones in our tiny swimming brains.

Nonsense with extreme prejudice.

While the New York Times, the LA Times, Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Ad Age and Broadcasting & Cable print huge ads decry the talk show host as Satan on wheels Procter & Gamble, United Airlines and soon to follow AT&T and American Express back off. This is no crime. Newspapers need to sell newspapers. Television is the home of swill and barley and would sooner burn the last remaining electrodes in your brain than consider things involving the U.S. Constitution. And sponsors? Needless to say that as long as something prevents the separation of human from currency, there is no need consulting them.

The crime here is hypocrisy and overindulgence.

It is hard to find anyone to root for in this mess, but when all else fails it is comfy to remember that although your smarmy neighbor might not like your opinion or profession or how and why you go about it, there isn’t a fucking thing they can do about it. And when that wonderfully loony patriot, John Adams stood in front of a bunch of angry slave-owners bucking for a freedom ride from Concord to Yorktown and barked, “I may not agree with you, sir, but I would die for your right to say it” he banged the spike right on the head.

God bless that maniac. It was rogues like him that made it possible for Laura Schlessinger to get all Bible crazy and tell 18 million Americans that sexual preference and circumstance has pissed off the supreme being and it’s her job to pass on the bad news. And if it weren’t for those who came up with the concepts of freedom GLAAD and NOW would be in cell block 15 being beaten by crack heads and gun thieves.

That is supposed to be the beauty of this country. People can spew forth the most bilious crapolla and pass themselves off as authority and it’s our job to either listen carefully, heed, chuckle or move in the other direction with increasing speed. But when those same people start saying that their opposition can’t do the same then we have to put up the proverbial red flag.

All the while, it always important to remember that talk show hosts are no more qualified to determine your personal feelings or judge your inner pride than a circus clown or professional wrestler (or dumbass hick relief pitcher from Georgia). And it is far more pertinent to hold dear the age-old sentiment that groups with cute names and logos and access to bullhorns are no more an authority on who should be allowed to speak and earn a living as the boy scouts or the National Rifle Association.

To review:

Freedom of Speech – just as important to whining protesters as it is to ignorant show-biz folk.

Humans are hairless apes with indoor plumbing – all the wattage or newspaper space in the world should never hold any weight with John Q. Public and his sister Passerby.

If you’re not particularly enamored with any of this please do one of two things – fuck off or tell me to do the same.

The deal is struck – you don’t stop me from saying it and I won’t stop you from disagreeing.

Class dismissed.

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The Ballad Of Rick Lazio – Political satirist, James Campion welcomes New York’s GOP Senatorial candidate.

Aquarian Weekly

6/7/00 REALITY CHECK

THE BALLAD OF RICK LAZIO

Rudy Giuliani is out. Rick Lazio is in. Ms. Rodham’s media hounds are circling. The GOP is scrambling. Nearly 45% of New York State voters are still undecided which way they will go come November.

These are the facts we are dealing with now. Wet dreams of Uncle Rudy spinning medieval on the dragon lady from Arkansas and her torrid lobs of retribution have been reduced to bland cat naps. I already possess three contact names for the Lazio campaign and the poor bastard has been only running for Senate for 72 hours. He’s been on every news show that will have him for more than thirty seconds and no one outside Long Island, and the lovely Lazio family, has a fucking clue who this guy is.

As much as the odd regret filters into this space, it pales in comparison to reaching my prime Republican source, Georgetown when the heat inside the party rises. Now that my second book, Fear No Art, is out and his personal e-mails have been published in it, his savage rebuttals can only be something worth printing.

This includes every vitriolic utterance Georgetown can muster at dawn when my phone call catches him off guard with hopes of getting a line on whom Rick Lazio claims to be, what he aims to do about surging Clinton poll numbers, and why every Liberal from here to Albany views him as some writhing spawn of Newt Gingrich and Conservatives hail him as a better prepared soldier than the blubbering mush masquerading as Warrior Giuliani.

jc: Did you get a copy of my book?

Georgetown: I had someone fax me over the key pages.

jc: Thoughts?

GT: How in the name of all that is holy do you expect to get away with that shit? Two pages of a State Department stooge comparing the Clinton scandal with “Three’s Company” skits?

jc: What about your e-mails?

GT: I’ll fix your ass. You do know (David) Gergen has a contract out on your head.

jc: Gergen? Are you sure you read my book?

GT: Did you call me at 5:30 in the goddamn morning to talk about your continued abuse of the Ronald Reagan legacy?

We didn’t want to upset the ground swell after Christmas, but Rudy didn’t want to run. I can tell you one thing, more than half the guys that count wanted Lazio in the first place.

jc: How much can you tell me about what the party knew of Giuliani’s decision not to run and when they knew it.

GT: Fuck if I know. We gave up on him two months ago. That was a travesty from the get-go. We didn’t want to upset the ground swell after Christmas, but Rudy didn’t want to run. I can tell you one thing, more than half the guys that count wanted Lazio in the first place. I’ve got to give the guy credit, he was pissed when they asked him step down. But Rick walked the line and now if he plays this right he’s going to be Senator anyway. Money and all.

jc: How much of Rudy’s $12 million, or whatever their reporting, is he entitled to?

GT: It’s more than that now. C’mon. Think for a minute, what’s he going to do, give it back? The cash guys have already allocated a great deal of the legal money that way. Lazio will get what he needs to toast that bitch. I have to say, I was humored by it all at first, but those Democrat bastards with their scare tactics are starting to tick the main boys off. And if Lazio runs some weak shit up the flag pole there is going to be bloodcurdling screams up in Albany. The loudest will be coming from Pataki’s office.

jc: I know all about George’s love/hate affair with Rudy.

GT: Never mind that, Pataki loves Lazio. That bond goes back a few campaigns. And don’t be so sure Pataki wouldn’t have come all-out for Rudy. There is some real hatred all the way down the line over here for Hillary.

jc: What’s your best assessment of Lazio?

GT: A great idea man. Very sturdy on the floor. Debates his ass off for fiscal concerns. Has a hard-on for tax issues. He’ll go to the mat for votes. Can you believe he told (Tim) Russert that he would take all the fucking (Pat) Buchanan endorsements? The Clinton people already have propaganda out on that and the (Newt) Gingrich stuff.

jc: How much “Contract with America” stank does he have on him?

GT: Sure he voted down the line with those mavericks. We were all loons then. It was a fine time to be the white male with a chip on his shoulder and we rode that crest, bud. You can’t hold anyone responsible for their voting record in 1994 when they were elected in 1992 as a minority party in the 45-year Democratic reign. Lazio was rescued from the mouth of the whale. Those maniacs would’ve voted for full-scale prohibition then. And they were all drunks. We were all drunks then, drunk on power and the smell of Clinton blood.

jc: Peer pressure, Congress style?

GT: Nah, freedom. A whole lotta freedom,, but that was a looong time ago.

jc: Do you think Lazio has the time he needs to put him in the middle of this thing?

GT: He’s in it now, believe me. Giuliani hadn’t done anything but posture anyway. People knew him, sure, but more people were afraid of what he was going to do out of the city.

jc: Here’s my take. Lazio doesn’t need that much time. If anything, the notoriety of Clinton and the bad press Giuliani was heaping on himself in the last 10 months helps him.

GT: Suburban Congressman are good candidates because they don’t know anything about polls and demographics. These are guys with a simple agenda. Clinton has the weight of whatever crap Gore is dragging around. She’s the national candidate. Lazio is hot dogs and beer. He’s the underdog now. He’s from the fucking state and he’s a man, but he’s the friggin’ underdog. Write this down. Got a pen?

jc: Speak. My cat wants out.

GT: Eventually, Hillary is going to have to go on a goddamn television show. She’s going to have to talk to a reporter. She’s going to have to stand in a room with someone who’s not afraid of her. Then we’ll see what she’s made of. Not everyone has to gain her forgiveness for screwing around with the help. Ain’t no one on this side gives a rodent’s posterior if she’s the reincarnation of Eleanor Roosevelt meets Norma Rae. When she opens that trap for real, sludge will spring forth. And when it closes, the corpse of the Marques De Sade will beat her in an open election.

jc: Got the pen. Can you repeat that?

GT: Goodnight.

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The Giuliani Dilemma – Political satirist and author, James Campion puts the dirt on Uncle Rudy’s Senate campaign..

Aquarian Weekly 5/31/00 REALITY CHECK

THE GIULIANI DILEMMA

During the second weekend in May, buried deep in a story about the Napster law suits highlighted by juicy rumors about black-suited Metallica enforcers leaning on computer geeks, the bunker phone at the Reality Check News & Information Desk bellowed.

Ordinarily two or three well-formed paragraphs usually take precedence over last-minute news bulletins. The days of “stop-the-presses” died with cable news networks and Internet freakdom. But the voice on the other end, identifying himself as J.R. from the “Giuliani for Senate Committee of New York”, uttered two intriguing words: “He’s done.”

This is important for two reasons.

The first being that no one from City Hall has spoken to me in 13 months. My inquiries have been ignored from secretaries to security guards, and when things got hairy over the winter during the Amadou Diallo murder trial, my name was left completely off the credentials’ list. I had to watch from home as the steely-eyed hombre mayor of the largest city in the world calmly painted a brutally slain unarmed man as a borderline criminal.

Interestingly, the ice thawed a few months back when my column on the Hillary Clinton announcement for Senate ran, and the damn thing went on for nearly one thousand words of swill and muck ending with a depiction of Ms. Rodham as some kind of power-mad mutation of Ziggy Stardust meets Citizen Kane.

Uncle Rudy wanted to be governor, but someone bet him at Christmas that he could make the first lady look like a crack mother by Labor Day and he took it.

But that’s all ancient history around here now, because the second reason why I trashed a nearly completed story for a cryptic message about Rudolf Giuliani is it’s blatant finality. What should have been a plethora of ugly quotes and rabid campaign treachery between two lunatics grubbing for a Senate seat now becomes a pathetic public relations mop-up for a doomed candidate and a woman who doesn’t know how the hell to take advantage of it.

No journalist worth a hoot fails to cherish the miles of coverage that kind of insanity promised.

But alas, long before Uncle Rudy announced he had prostate cancer, and revealed the woman he’d been parading around with for over a year was his lover, he was finished. His heart had never been in the thing. J.R. intimated such before hanging up, prompting me to make a few well-placed calls of my own to the right Giuliani people who were suddenly more than accommodating.

A fellow by the name of Tad put me in touch with no less than six members of Giuliani’s fractured election committee, who more or less denied knowing anything about any J.R., and stated emphatically that I should bet all my money on Rudolf Giuliani running even if he had to do it from a hospital bed sporting two wives and a Mets hat.

It’s been the challenge of this space to dissect rumor from fact and somehow jam it all together to create the kind of chaos that runs circles around anything the boys up at the NY Times would print without legal conclaves. But things were happening rapidly with no sign of clarity until someone spoke on the record, which was fast becoming a fantasy.

By the time this goes to press, this much we have ascertained: Uncle Rudy wanted to be governor, but someone bet him at Christmas that he could make the first lady look like a crack mother by Labor Day and he took it. By the time his second wife, of 16 years, Donna Hanover, was informing a mob of television cameras that the whole idea of the mayor’s marriage was “sad,” Giuliani hadn’t officially announced he was running for anything.

This was a far cry from the man who looked like a sculpture of Peter the Great on the shores of the Baltic Sea the night he sent David Dinkins packing. I remember it well. I left that celebration in Brooklyn around 2:00 am and could see the lights of Manhattan in my review mirror when they replayed the victory speech. It sends chills up my spine even now. Rudy Giuliani was a bulldog in a poodle circus and we were all much happier then.

We were also more than ecstatic that Uncle Rudy would headline the Senate fight card this fall against a woman so morally bankrupt and emotionally stunted she might be found gnawing on his ankle by the third debate. The mayor had reduced mere charlatans to the throne to jabbering apes. This would be the real deal. A war of wills and posturing the likes of which the empire state has rarely seen outside of a Donald Trump wedding. But it’s all over now.

Giuliani’s tenuous hold over upstate voters due to his refusal to endorse fellow Republican, George Pataki the first time around is shakier with infidelity added to the agenda. And because my father went through the operation for prostate cancer just two years ago, I know for certain that the recovery will take a chunk out of the five months left for him to campaign.

The GOP marshals in Westchester are through fooling around. They need answers fast. The Clinton machine, in full throttle mode at the Cardinal O’Connor funeral earlier this month, has been cranking and the rumors of Pataki slipping in before summer seems premature. Everyone in the governor’s camp has refused to acknowledge that Giulani exists. They do not plan to bail him out now.

Only Rick Lazio, the man who probably should have taken this nomination from jump street, remains plausible. But even if he agrees to pick up the pieces, will it be enough time. Even the hard-liners at Republican headquarters have noticed that Hillary closed the numbers’ gap on the vacillating Giuliani already.

Then, of course, there is the final option. Uncle Rudy takes the challenge like a wounded gladiator, limping into the bloody ring to reap the sympathy/anti-Hillary vote, and stumble to victory.

By press time only he knows, and nobody having anything to do with him is making a lick of sense.

Should have finished the damn Napster piece.

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