Democratic National Convention 2000 – Political satirist, James Campion exposes populist bullshit.

Aquarian Weekly 8/30/00 REALITY CHECK

Democratic National Convention 2000TINSLETOWN LOONEY TOONS

The call of equal opportunity, two-party system insurrection rears its putrid head. So, we plow ahead and dip below the machinations of the Democratic Party’s showcase for renewed morality and heralded economic prosperity with one who makes this dreary mess his home, my number one Dem insider, Dibbs.

jc: It doesn’t bode well for the party when there are highly publicized riots in the streets during a Democratic convention. Last time that happened was in ’68, and an eight year Democratic run ended.

DB: And we were stuck with Nixon.

jc: Whose bright idea was it to have Rage Against the Machine play in the parking lot, and then have the always dumbfounded LAPD shut down the lights and tell the crazies to go home?

DB: Maybe it has something to do with the mayor of Los Angeles being a Republican.

jc: Vast right wing conspiracy?

DB: Hilarious. Where were the reports decrying that fiction the Republicans were peddling in their ridiculous television promo of a convention. All that crap about “inclusion” and medicare, healthcare and social security revisions that we’ve been trying to pass through that damn GOP-ruled congress for the past six years. Are they kidding with that junk? Bush has the nerve to drone on for over an hour about how the Clinton administration has dropped the ball on these issues. And then these goons on the FOX channel and Robert Novak tell us that the only reason the economy has been roaring for the entire stretch of Clinton’s term is because of the Contract of America? What the hell is that if not blatant hypocrisy and taking credit away from those who are due it?

There is still a solid contigent here who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about Gore or any of those people wanting to hang onto the White House at any cost.

jc: Granted, Clinton’s speech was on the level of “old soldier’s never die”, but between that film of him doing everything but pulling a baby from a burning wreck, his pro wrestling entrance, and 50 minutes into the thing without ever mentioning the vice president, how does that exactly help Gore.

DB: He is quite simply the best public orator this country has produced in over a century. Setting the record straight is more important to Gore than reinventing himself.

jc: Was there much flack from the White House on the “first-night-and-out” demands from the Gore camp?

DB: At first I think the president was looking at this from the standpoint of paybacks. In the end Gore implored him to go out his way, but do it fast and early.

jc: Regarding Lieberman’s speech, how do you think morality boy sleeps when he u-turns on school vouchers, eliminating affirmative action, privatizing social security and glossing over attacking pop culture to appease the convention’s liberal wing?

DB: You can’t bash Lieberman.

jc: Too late.

DB: It was a gutsy pick. Before this convention there was defenitely a sense that the liberal wing of the party had been luke warm on Gore, especially with how he went after Bradley in the primaries and choosing Lieberman to balance the ticket, but they pulled up the reigns and came full force by Tuesday night. I was with Ted Kennedy and a bunch of his Massachusetts people before he came out to speak, and all of Caroline’s “new frontier” references had him stoked. No one I talked to had seen him that pumped in some time. I was frankly surpised. That night, with Bradley et al, it became the liberal contingent’s attempt at equal time.

jc: But doesn’t Lieberman’s subjigation make your skin crawl?

DB: There was never any love-loss between Clinton’s centrist ’92 run and the party big boys, but who cares? Bush’s move to the center alienated all those conservatives who couldn’t get to speak while Colin Powell and John McCain were gumming up the works in Philly. There is still a solid contigent here who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about Gore or any of those people wanting to hang onto the White House at any cost. There were times this past week when I felt like this was Reagan’s last stand back in ’88 when half the GOP wanted to string George Bush up, but couldn’t stomach the thought of giving up the strings. Things were alot more divided around here until the GOP convention started looking like new democrats revisited.

jc: You were talking tough back in March.

DB: It looked like McCain wasn’t backing down. Christ, I thought the man was going to demand recounts. We had him pegged as some crazed Perot guy who would jetison all the independents who hated the Gingrich dupes to Gore. Never happened.

jc: Gore is down 42% with independents.

DB: The debates will change that.

jc: How do you define these entertainment geeks like Cher, Ron Howard, Sean Penn and the Balwins coming out full force for a ticket with two humps who’ve painted Hollywood as jesters for Caligula?

DB: The alternative is damaging tax cuts and a stranglehold on women’s rights.

jc: The rich love tax cuts.

DB: All the more reason why those people should be commended for backing the right horse.

jc: Who was more stiff at the podium, Hillary or Karenna Gore Schiff?

DB: We all felt bad for that poor girl.

jc: Her daddy makes toast.

DB: No comment. I thought Hillary was fair.

jc: About Gore’s acceptance speech…

DB: Saved the day.

jc: A grade-A populace speech in the grand tradition of Harry Truman. The man promised everything but a cure for cancer and free beer.

DB: Gore is a policy wonk. He knows it and so does Bush. That is why the Republicans are jamming everything but ideas and policy down our throats. Gore spread a system of government out that was real and sober.

jc: That’s funny. I used the words, “phony” and “surreal”.

DB: It signified the strength of this ticket; working America against corporate interest.

jc: A man who stands before me on the strength of tobacco money crying about special interests and large corporations is unconscionable.

DB: We expect to cut halfway into this paper lead and take that empty-headed goon, Bush apart in the debates.

jc: If you’re not within 10 points by Labor Day you’re going to need a Bush screw-up.

DB: We’ve already factored that in.

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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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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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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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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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Fidel Castro’s baseball career – Political satirist and author, James Campion puts Cuba into perspective.

Aquarian Weekly 4/26/00 REALITY CHECK

CASTRO, BASEBALL, AND THE GREAT DIVIDE

Opening day at Yankee Stadium and the press room is jammed with the ego elite and media geeks grubbing buttered rolls because they’re too cheap to afford George Steinbrenner’s seven-dollar buffet. The deadline monsters are breathing hard on the swinging doors and the smell of stale wool jackets is already prevalent.

Pushing my way into a table while smiling at my friend, Brain Cashman who happens to be the general manager of the team of the century and four years younger than me. I fail to call him “bastard” on this visit, which he agrees is my right since no one younger than me can be allowed to do anything considered important.

There’s an air of good feeling, for the ides of March has given way to breezy April afternoons in the shadow of this shrine. I promised a broadcasting friend earlier this year that since I sauntered out of the old girl last October, with the Yankees sipping nonalcoholic champagne and Roger Clemens high-fiving truck drivers and construction workers on the roof of the Yankee dugout, that since I saw the last game played in the 20th century here, why not hit the field for the first one of the 21st.

The Pirates never did have the patience to develop short Cuban kids with little pop on the cheese, so a dejected Fidel attended law school, went to prison, and disappeared into the Cuban socialist underground.

Something about new beginnings that bring the leeches from the dusty corners and send the rabid fungus of the sports world clamoring. The Yankees are a hot ticket. They win. Americans–New Yorkers first and foremost–love winners. Losers draw flies and boos and calls for painful death. One minute on the pro sport circuit and a concept like politics becomes child’s play.

Inevitably that kind of talk around those who moonlight at the Stadium want to know what the hell is going on with the Cuban kid. A few tables over Elian Gonzalez comes up in light conversation, along with how horrible it was that the world champs wasted their celebration with nonalcoholic champagne when AA veteran Darryl Strawberry was weeks away from getting back on the crank.

But it was the boxing curmudgeon known as Bert Sugar who started a near melee after a rant on his new magazine and the future of Cuban middleweights when things became heated. “I just wanted to double the average age of the press corps,” he laughed and exited stage left, leaving a hardy debate on all things Elian Gonzalez.

Right down the middle among the sporting press: Elian stays, or hops the first freight with his father back to the land of cigars and sugar cane. “What do you think would be the furor if the Gonzalez kid were a fat, greasy Cuban with a gruff beard and a stogie hanging from his face?” someone asked. “Probably would have pushed him back on that raft with his mother’s corpse,” I answered causing an aggravated woman to ask for another show of hands.

There is a well-known baseball trivia question that makes its way around most press boxes involving Fidel Castro as a 21 year-old pitching prospect for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Seems two corpulent scouts, hired by the parent club, went to Havana to watch the diminutive lefty break nasty curves and dip sinkers in and around the aggressive Latin competition, but were somewhat lukewarm about his speed. “The kid Castro has some command of breaking pitches (stop),” the report told the front office the next morning via Western Union. “Has nothing on the fast ball (stop) Double AA talent at best (stop).”

The Pirates never did have the patience to develop short Cuban kids with little pop on the cheese, so a dejected Fidel attended law school, went to prison, and disappeared into the Cuban socialist underground. Those were the days when his family and friends were subsisting on a steady diet of dung beetles and palm leaves chased by rotten disease-ridden water, while the mob ran numbers for a dictatorship backed by the muscle of Harry Truman’s United States.

It was a short walk from the entrance of Forbes Field to the den of hate. And hate turned into revolution on New Year’s Eve 1959, when the failed pitcher became champion of the weak and an American thorn; followed closely by the CIA’s spring invasion gone terribly wrong two years later. And when the Bay of Pigs sent the slugs from Florida’s underbelly to the right people, Jack Kennedy paid with his life in Dallas two years after that.

Books by James Campion are available on this web site or at Amazon & Barnes & Nobleclick to order

Thirty-three years later Elian Gonzalez was born to Cuban natives, Juan Miguel and his wife Elisabeth. The couple divorced and the mother fled the country with Elian in toe. When fishermen rescued the boy in an inner tube on Thanksgiving Day he could only mention his father’s name. His father wants to take him back to a country where Elian has less than eight months to drink milk without serious rations and is merely a public relations faux paus from prison. Floridian Cuban refugees from the gun runners and coke fiends to the hardworking parents and relatives of those suffering tyrannical madness mere miles of water south want the boy to stay. Sticking it to the failed pitcher has a purpose.

But the boy is a political football, and that is a sport rarely discussed in the cathedral of baseball. And politics takes a back seat to a child and his parent taking in the sunshine of spring. It is the third change of season that finds Elian Gonzalez without his father. Human chains keeping blood and communism away from the great bellow of freedom.

Governments raising children.

Courts playing mommy.

Play ball!

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Super Tuesday Mayhem – Political satirist, James Campion comes clean on a fixed political system.

Aquarian Weekly 3/22/00 REALITY CHECK

CHEAP GARMENTS AND LESSER WORDS ON SUPER TUESDAY

“Nobody really wants to vote for these guys.” – Chief Wonka

So said the Poobah of a revolutionary underground information network called BLAZO!!, after a long day of deliberating on whether the black hole that has become the American political landscape drew deeper parallels to the misty days of 1960. That was the year the Kennedy brothers handed the vice presidency over to a man they despised and who moments earlier painted a picture of Jack Kennedy that would’ve trounced him in a race against Caligula, much less Dick Nixon. Yet, Lyndon Johnson stood by the side of JFK as he ran the mother of all kick-ass campaigns against a political mutant that might not have survived for six minutes in Roman elections.

Chief Wonka knows a thing or two about the climate of big time politics, tapping his left leg like a fiend on crank while assaulting the Grand China Buffet with a passion rarely found in mortals. The Chief loves his politics, but his fried cream cheese even more; and when it came time to handicap the Super Tuesday ballots he leaned back in that funny way he does while peeling off a medieval grin that told me all I needed to know about the rising smog.

John McCain had a chance, I foolishly told myself. But by 10:24 PM the final curtain had come down on the Arizona Senator. “Effectively, he flat lined in New York,” they’ll write. “And California will put the dirt on him.”

Writing this gibberish is the easy part. I have spent the last four hours at a voting outlet in the sleepy nook of Putnam Valley, where less people know about me than those forced to edit this rant. Most of it with a bull horn gripped firmly in my right hand belting out the kind of propaganda needed for desperate March evenings when Fat Tuesday becomes a super bummer and the only men left with a puncher’s chance at finally putting Bill Clinton out of a job are pathetic facsimiles.

“HEAR YE, POOR MINIONS OF OUR DENTED SYSTEM,” I began. “THE LORD HAS ABANDONED US, AND ALL THAT IS LEFT IS OUR MEAGER WILL TO SURVIVE THE FINAL BLOW!”

“The final blow?” a hardy pedestrian asked. “What are you talking about?”

It was a fair question. How would Chief Wonka decipher the crux of such a cryptic statement born of frustration and defeat? He was so sure that things would right itself that afternoon at the Grand Buffet that I nearly ate the multicolored death mints on the way out. But something beyond the lobster roll gnawed at my stomach. Four men remained before Super Tuesday—when more than half the delegates it takes to become president would be up for grabs—but only two would stand.

“No one really wants to vote for these guys,” the mighty Chief said twice more before we departed. “We’re supposed to choose a royal meal from rotten dog meat?” It rang true, then hollow. Bill Bradley was a dead man hours after he left New Hampshire, but the the glassy-eyed zombies up at headquarters still kept e-mailing me his itinerary: Mr. Bradley goes here. Mr. Bradley goes there. Didn’t have much of a point after too long. So much so I turned down two personal invitations to his consession speech just to avoid gazing upon the carcass.

The Republicans would set things right, I thought. Every bubble-headed paranoid dipshit screaming about a phantom hijacking of the party and ignoring millions of independent votes would suddenly come to their senses and put the scare into the vice president. John McCain had a chance, I foolishly told myself. But by 10:24 PM the final curtain had come down on the Arizona Senator. “Effectively, he flat lined in New York,” they’ll write. “And California will put the dirt on him.” As my grandmother, Carmella Martignetti, once said so eloquently. “That man is dead, he just doesn’t know enough to lie down.”

So the hardy man at the poll asked, “What are you talking about?” And in the tradition of Chief Wonka, and all the proud warriors of dark battles, it is important to remember that in defeat can be another kind of victory. And back to the bull horn I went…“THE PHEONIX CAN RISE! THE CHRIST KNEW VICTORY AFTER DEATH! SHIRLY MCCLEAN FUCKED KUBLA KHAN! THERE IS A WAY TO BEAT SATAN AGAIN!”

“Satan?” the man asked, following along slowly.

“YOUR MAN BUSH IS A SCUMBAG, IT IS TRUE! HE PAINTED HIS OPPONENT AT A COMMIE, LAND-RAPING, WOMAN-HATING GREMLIN, BUT IT WOULD TAKE THE ARCH ANGEL OF THE LORD AND ALL HIS CHARGES TO BRING DOWN THE EVIL THAT RESTS IN THE HEART OF THE MAN WHO SLEEPS REGULARLY WITH TIPPER! KNOW NOT THE FIRES OF HELL UNTIL HATH LIE WITH THE SLITHERING SNAKE!”

Bull horns may be well and good at teamster rallies, but late at night in Putnam Valley, NY amidst the gentle voters, it is enough to bring the law. My stand was finished. Within two hours G.W. Bush would win the lion’s share of key delegates, edge New York, and by evening’s end wrap up Cali on a whim.

Al Gore swept the thing and stood at a podium in Tennessee begging the McCain independents to protect their women and children from the right-wing religious freak from the land of electric chair justice and world record pollution numbers.

At that moment, phones had to ring in the McCain hotel room somewhere in Los Angeles; and the men paid high figures for advising had to be all over them rebuilding the same bridges that had G.W. in bed with evil preachers and in the back pocket of an establishment which was one bad night in South Carolina away from funneling funds elsewhere. If McCain has a heart, and any compassion left for his party and the future of this nation, he will suck it up and join Junior on the ticket. It is the only avenue left to cease this presidency-by-default Gore has lined up.

It’s after midnight and G.W. is on CNN telling Larry King that he might not have invented the Internet, but he’s sure he could spell it. I still plan to keep writing. Most of it will not appear in this space, but there may be another book left in me. Chief Wonka may even know. I was told he knows all. I was also told crime doesn’t pay and you can’t argue with election results.

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Pat Buchanan Rages Against The Machine – Political satirist, James Campion’s interview with Uncle Pat.

Aquarian Weekly 1/26/00

RAGING AGAINST THE MACHINE:Political Pit Bull, Pat Buchanan Takes Off The Kid Gloves in His Grass Roots Run for President

Less than 24 hours after The Commission on Presidential Debate put a hard limit of at least 15% of the popular vote for a candidate harboring any chance of participating in the general election debates this fall, Patrick J. Buchanan—armed with less than 10% in the polls—tooled into New Jersey with a rather large chip on his already weighted shoulders. Just three months ago Buchanan fought off charges of anti-Semitism, isolationism, and outright insanity after the release of his latest book, “A Republic, Not an Empire” and engineered a bitter separation from his beloved Republican Party in which he served two presidents. His leap into the wild fray known as the Reform Party, although expected for more than a year, caused more than a stir in the two other major parties.

Buchanan welcomes the moniker of outsider, even radical, yet harbors a great respect for conservative values he feels have been ignored inside the GOP. He confuses many prominent members of his former party while striking fear in the main political establishment because he simply doesn’t possess the polished abilities to cower from an old-fashioned verbal brawl. Jesse Ventura, the only elected member of the Reform Party, has refused to accept him and founder, Ross Perot has all but ignored him; but despite diminishing political options, Buchanan gears up for yet another improbable run for president.

When I caught up with him at a fund raiser in New Jersey he had already made a run of radio and television shows accusing everyone but the chosen few in his ever-entertaining Buchanan Brigade of railroading him. But when he addressed the crowd none of the usual sound bite rhetoric which made him an infamous speech writer for Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan was present. Instead, he barked like a man desperately trying for one last shot at shaking the foundation of a stagnant political system.

No one in the political arena has been more vilified or romanticized than Pat Buchanan. Although many of his statements have pierced the heart of political correctness, there is something sincere about Buchanan’s honesty and anger. And although he has mastered the fine art of hyperbole, he pulls no punches when defending his causes and skewering his enemies—of which in the landscape of this the first presidential race of the 21st century, there are many.

jc: So The Commission on Presidential Debate, whatever the hell that is, is squeezing you out?

Buchanan: That we are not allowed in the debates because of some standard set up by the other two parties is an outrage. They’re afraid of us. And who runs this commission which decides this threshold? Paul Kirk, former national chairman of the Democratic Party and Frank Fahrenkopf, former chairman of the Republican Party. And you know what Fahrenkopf does for a living? He’s a million dollar lobbyist for the gambling industry! And who represents us? Nobody. I feel like a guy who comes into court and there’s two guys in the jury box deciding whether he’s going to be hung, and both get his estate if he’s hung. Now how do you think they’re gonna vote? (laughs) I told “Inside Politics” on CNN yesterday that this was a conspiracy to corner the market on the presidency of the United States, and Frank Fahrenkopf is leading that conspiracy. So, Frank was unhappy with me until he went on with my sister Bay on “Equal Time” about an hour and a half later. I think he and Bay almost got into a fist fight afterward. He does not want to mix it up with my baby sister.

From what I understand this is a case of taxation without representation since our money goes to matching funds for all political parties. I’m paying for your right to run for office, but I won’t get to hear from you.

That’s correct. The Reform Party is recognized by the government. It gets money for its convention. It gets matching funds for the general election, just as the other parties do. Why the other two parties have a right to deny our party a right to be heard by the American people is simply ludicrous. Listen, we can’t win the election if we can’t get our message out through a hostile media in the three national debates. We are going to fight this battle.

How do you plan to do so?

We’re going to fight it in court, we’ll fight it before the FEC on legal grounds, and we’re going to fight it in the court of public opinion. I think we’re going to win in the court of public opinion because the American people are first, fair minded and they know that your opponent shouldn’t be the ones who decide how often you ought to speak to them. Secondly, I think the American people themselves are gonna want to hear our views. They’re different, they’re strongly presented, and I think they’re right for the country. The American people have their own interest at heart, so we’re going to win this battle. Rely upon it.

Since the Reform Party seems divided into three or four factions right now, do you think this issue will unite the party?

This will unite the Reform Party. Every member of the party will agree we deserve a roll in the presidential debates to decide the next election. All Reformers can agree on that one.

Have you spoken to Ross Perot?

No I haven’t talked to Ross Perot. We tried to get in touch with Jessie Ventura when I was up in Minnesota and we will again.

There’s been some animosity there. Do you foresee pulling this thing together or will it be a rumble all the way to the convention?

We should all work together and get behind me. (laughs) Look, we’re going after this nomination even if we have to go up to Minnesota and body slam the big fella. We’re gonna do it!

None of the front men for this party seemed too thrilled with your conversion.

I saw the Donald (Trump) up there the other day, and he isn’t doing very well advancing the football from the sidelines, frankly. There has to come a time when you get down on the field, and right now nobody’s down on the field with us.

The word is that Trump could buy enough ballots to win the nomination.

The Donald’s got a hundred million dollars, just like Forbes has got a hundred million, and Bush has his hundred million, so I’ve got to do the footwork and get out there and get those people onto the ballots. You know I was out at that Iowa straw poll and I ran into Forbes and his tent had French doors on it! (laughs) I’m not kidding! I told him Bush raised $36 million in his first two months, and he says, “You know Pat, don’t worry about that, I can get that out of the petty cash drawer.” (laughs) But I know even with that and only 15% of the money in the general election, I’ll go on the television shows no one will go on, and we will make our case.

You’ve made a concerted, if not predictable, effort to trash the two party system since you left.

The Democratic party and the Republican party—at the national level, at the Washington level—have become Xerox copies of each other. And neither of them stand up and do what they say they will do. Both of them have the same agenda. Let’s take that war in Kosovo. In my judgment that was an illegal and unconstitutional war launched by the President of the United States in part to get him out of his latest jam. Seventy-eight days of bombing. They said it was genocide, and they’re in there now and they haven’t found any genocide. What happened is Serbia was bombed for 78 days and we’re right now boycotting heating oil, and people who never did a thing to this country are freezing to death in the winter. Now that’s not the kind of country I grew up in, and that I revere and that I love. And I regret to say the Republican establishment were as much for it as Mr. Clinton.

But most of this country’s involvement in fracases abroad are conducted by the UN. Do you expect the most powerful nation in the world to sit idly by while ethnic and religious cleansing goes down?

Mr. Kofi Annan says only the security council can decide when force may be used in the world. He now says that the sovereignty of any country can be brushed aside if the UN determines that human rights are being violated. Let me tell you something, the last time foreign troops violated the sovereignty of this country was in the battle of New Orleans and they ran into a fellow named Andrew Jackson. We cannot surrender our right to govern ourselves to any global new world order.

Now that gets into the issue of appearing what you have been accused of, and that’s an isolationist.

(smiles) That’s one of the sweeter things they call me. I write in my book that America has never been an isolationist nation. From our first days we were one of the greatest trading nations on earth. But our foreign policy has not been isolationist, it’s been independent. What the founding fathers said was no permanent or entangling alliances. During the American Revolution George Washington welcomed the alliance with France in 1778, but after the war was over we got out because we did not want get entangled in their war. You take care of your own family, your own people, first before you go around doing good. On that issue Bush, McCain, Bradley, Gore, they all disagree. They are global free traders. They’re all pro NAFTA, pro GAT, pro WTO. We have two parties that give us the same agenda, so we want to offer the American people a choice. This country’s never been an isolationist, and I am not an isolationist.

About your book, do you think the furor over it helped you for mere publicity alone?

I told my publisher there is no way that book is getting any attention. It’s a diplomatic history book. After my first book all anyone wanted to talk about at the time was Monica Lewinski, and this time I expected everyone to focus on the third party issue, but you know something? Thanks to Chris Matthews, Alan Dershowitz, and Bill Safire screaming their heads off about that book I was on the New York Times best seller list! (laughs) First time in my life!

Can you pinpoint the very moment when you were sure you were no longer a Republican and had to leave the party?

Look, I’ve got a warm spot in my heart for the grass roots of the Republican Party. I think it’s a good party at the grass roots, a lot of conservatives. My concern is I just had no loyalty to its hierarchy anymore, and I think they’ve walked away from their own grass roots and their own people, and their own best ideas and platform. And I’m just not going along with it. It’s gone on long enough.

If Reagan were running today would he do so as a Republican or a Reform Party candidate?

Well, if Ronald Reagan ran as a Republican it would be a far different story than what they’ve got now.

George W. Bush?

Bush doesn’t know who he is or what to think other than what he’s been programmed. What I’m planning to do on the way to my podium in one of the debates is pass by W. and say, “George, who is prime minister of Estonia?” (laughs) I’ll knock him off his game before the thing even starts!

Could you have envisioned another tussle inside the GOP for a nomination?

Not my concern anymore. I think Bush is going to win this thing fairly early. I think he could have it wrapped up by February first. And I think Mr. Gore is going to win, if not by February first, then latest, March. And all you press guys pumping up McCain and building up Bradley are going to be very unhappy your heroes have lost. And your going to complain that these other guys are boring. And when the general election comes around then you’re going to look out there and see that old troll is still under the bridge. And if you think you’ve come after me before, wait ‘till you come after us this time!

How would the king of debate, Al Gore stack up against you?

I’m a little nervous going up against a guy that invented the Internet. (laughs) You know Al said he and Tipper’s romance up there in Harvard served as the inspiration for “Love Story?” It’s true! He has this Wolf lady, or whatever it is, telling him he’s got to be an alpha man. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to be anymore.

What do you think might have been accomplished during that mess of a demonstration against the WTO in Seattle?

Now you might not have seen me, but I was out there at the Battle of Seattle. I was out there all five days. The WTO didn’t see me because I was disguised as a sea turtle. (laughs) Moving around the imperial troops.

Imperial troops?

The cops.

What was the point of that mess?

There were environmentalists, Buchanan Brigaders, Ralph Nader was there, economic populists, traditionalists; and we were all saying the same thing:That this issue is not about trade, in the way they’ve framed it, but it’s about the sovereignty and the independence and the liberty of the United States of America. Who is this World Trade Organization to tell us what laws we can and can’t pass in the United States of America? What they are doing in Washington is giving away what the founding fathers of this great country fought and died for in Concord and Lexington when they stood up against the greatest empire in the world and said to the imperial troops of the British army that we will be masters of our own house. If we’ve gotta die to be it, we’re gonna die to be it. And they did it. And that is what we’re fighting for.

You’re planning on causing a ruckus, aren’t you?

I think we have pretty much astonished the establishment so far. We’ve been out there fighting battles, and the more they call me names and the more they say this and that it just tells me that we’re in this thing for the long haul.

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