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Tony Kornheiser

Campaign Trail Is Heating Up--but It's Still Not Hot Enough

September 06, 2000|Tony Kornheiser

On his campaign plane the other day, Al "Al" Gore was poking at his rival, George W. "Last Call" Bush, hammering Bush's position on prescription drugs. Wrapping it up, in all his alpha maleness, Gore flexed his pecs and snarled, "It's time [Bush] put up or shut up."

(Moments like this, when Gore goes into testosterone overload, can be dicey, as we saw at the convention. But I'm pleased to report Gore did not grab any of the female correspondents and kiss them.)

Gore's fighting words made all the network news shows, startling millions of Americans who had no idea who Gore was--since the only men they had seen on TV this summer were Regis, Tiger Woods, Rudy and Rich.

It surely must come as a jolt to most Americans that there'll be a presidential election in just 60 days--particularly since the country has been without a president for the last two years or so.

Excuse me, Tony, Bill Clinton is the president.

Still?

Anyway, in response to Gore's "put up or shut up" attack, Bush's people were so steamed, they called Gore a "no good, tree-hugging, owl-sucking, rat weasel."

They did not, Tony, and you know it.

Um, actually, Bush's people said Gore's language was "not very statesmanlike."

Ouch! That hurts.

It reminds me of something troubling I recently read: When Gore was a football player at his all-male prep school, Bush was the head cheerleader at his. Do we really want the boy who was the head cheerleader to be our president? I mean, even if by some miracle Bush remembers the name of the foreign head of state whose country we're bombing into submission, do we want him to celebrate a victory by doing a freakin' cartwheel?

"Put up or shut up" is a nice line. But I keep waiting for the real negative campaigning to start. I'm not one of those people who likes a campaign to focus on the issues--unless I'm having trouble sleeping. My position is: Let's cut to the slime. I like it when candidate A has snapshots of candidate B biting the head off a live chicken, and candidate B has an FBI videotape of candidate A smoking crack in a downtown hotel--not that it would ever happen.

If issues are your thing, though, as I see it, the three big issues in this campaign so far are: 1) prescription drugs, 2) education and 3) campaign finance reform. (Like you, if I have enough of 1, I couldn't care less about 2 and 3.)

Here, briefly, based on exhaustive research consisting of scratching my mosquito bites, are the differences between Gore and Bush on the issues.

Gore: in favor of old people having drugs.

Bush: against too many old people having drugs, because he wants them himself.

Gore: wants campaign finance laws reformed so he can walk into any house of worship and walk out with all the cash he can stuff in his Naomi Wolf-selected Dockers.

Bush: wants to write checks to himself and sign your name, like he did with "Poppy."

Both men want everyone to have the same education they have--so they're working on creating more millionaire fathers to send kids to prep schools and Ivy League colleges.

(We interrupt this column for the kind of issue you really care about: When you heard Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres broke up, how many of you thought Heche would be the one to go nuts? Go figure.)

OK, here's one issue I think Gore and Bush should land on--before it lands on us. I read the other day about 88 orbiting communication satellites, weighing more than half a ton each, that for financial reasons are going to be "deorbited."

For those of you unfamiliar with the term "deorbiting," it means: Duck!

Yes, if a buyer isn't found to maintain these satellites in their present orbits, 53 tons of twisted steel are going to be headed our way. Flaming garbage from out of the blue. (And that's just the fall television season.)

I quote from the story: "Officials say the . . . hardware is within government guidelines for acceptable risk: a less than one in 10,000 chance of hitting a person on the ground."

That's acceptable risk--a less than one in 10,000 chance of hitting a person on the ground? Not when I'm on the ground it's not.

One in 10,000 is nothing! One in 10,000 is triplets. One in a million is Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts. And that happened.

All these scientists who say not to worry because water covers three-quarters of the earth--are they nuts? If the Baldwin brothers can get acting jobs, why can't one of these satellites hit me?

What the heck was Gore doing wasting his time inventing the Internet when he should have been inventing a net to catch this space trash? As it stands now, the next time he's issuing macho challenges on the stump, it could be: "Put up or . . . (splat!)."

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