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January 08, 1991|MIKE SPENCER

Grand Entrance: Minnesota's new Democratic senator, Paul Wellstone, 46, has boldly signaled rejection of the traditional role of a quiet freshman. For starters, Wellstone violated receiving-line protocol during swearing-in festivities last week by presenting Vice President Dan Quayle with a tape of Minnesotans voicing concerns about Iraq. Then he snubbed his state's senior senator, Republican David Durenberger, by having former Vice President Walter Mondale escort him to the swearing-in ceremony.

He's Available: Another son of Minnesota has moved back into the news. Harold Stassen, the one-time "boy wonder" of Republican politics and perennial candidate for President, has offered to negotiate a settlement of the Persian Gulf crisis and has asked the Iraq Embassy in Washington for a visa. "My goal is to prevent a war," said Stassen, 83. As to his qualifications, he points out that he is the only surviving member of the U.S. team that negotiated the U.N. charter.

Not Given the Gate: Retired General Motors Chairman Roger Smith has found his clout on the wane--at least in the posh Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., where he lives. Smith wanted city officials to help pay for an elaborate, $31,000 electronic gate to keep wayfaring motorists off his property, but he put the brakes on the plan after it met with much resistance.

Sock It to Me: After being choked, kicked, beaten and robbed 256 times during a 10-year period, Bill Langlois, 56, is looking forward to a new job in academia. He's retiring as one of San Francisco's most-decorated police officers and plans to teach history at a community college. For a decade of his 28 years on the force, Langlois was a decoy, specializing in capturing muggers who preyed on the elderly. While the job earned him a number of severe beatings, he found the work "fascinating."

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