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Off the Trail

The George and Al Show: Must See TV?

September 10, 2000|ROY RIVENBURG and MARTIN MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

After initial feuding over George W. Bush's proposal to hold the presidential debates "in a wide range of locations and formats" including "Larry King Live," handlers for Al Gore and Bush have now agreed to a variety of television confrontations. Here's a look at the fall lineup:

'This Week'

The candidates threaten to walk out until moderator Sam Donaldson is replaced by Leonardo DiCaprio. In the opening round, Gore reminds all seven of the show's viewers that he's "not Bill Clinton. Seriously." Meanwhile, in one of his best attempts at a complete sentence, Bush promises "to restore honor and character, and character and honor and other things to the Lincoln bedroom like my dad did. Except better."

'The McLaughlin Group'

Now, the duo gets to mix it up. At stake is the elusive and prized "rage-aholic" demographic. "ISSUE ONE!" declares host John McLaughlin, "CAPITAL PUNISHMENT!" Gore and Bush immediately spring to their feet and start screaming in capital letters. At one point, Bush refers to Gore with a term usually reserved for a New York Times reporter. Fortunately for Bush, the shouting makes it impossible to understand anyone. Later, the vice president's team claims victory, arguing that Gore's screaming looked more presidential.

'The Charlie Rose Show'

Cooling down from the McLaughlin conflagration, the candidates agree to a civil discussion on the late-night PBS talk show. Tension fills the studio as Rose calmly welcomes each candidate. Both men respond that they are "glad to be here." After that, they don't get a word in edgewise as Rose rambles on about a boyhood summer vacation in Texas. The segment ends abruptly when Quentin Tarantino arrives.

'ER'

NBC's blockbuster drama affords the candidates their first foray into a scripted format (not counting their parties' conventions). The Bush camp proposes a storyline in which Gore is shot repeatedly by a gay pro-choice welfare mother and then is saved from going to hell--for now--by Bush's faith-healing prayer (as Dr. Benton breaks down and says "Praise the Lord!"). The Gore staff counters with a plot in which Bush goes berserk, grabs the defibrillator and chases after a defenseless Medicare patient, shouting "Clear! Clear!" In an alternative plot, the Gore camp has "Dr." Bush trying to inject a wounded cop-killer with a hypodermic cocktail prepared by the Texas Department of Corrections. The show's producers reject both proposals and use the candidates as extras in a hospital cafeteria scene.

'Monday Night Football'

Bush and Gore fill in as guest commentators in a matchup between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys. During the play-by-play, Bush decries Washington's "bloated coaching staff" and "weak defense"; Gore asserts Dallas' injury-plagued roster would fare better under his prescription-drug plan.

'The Man Show'

Subbing for the regular hosts, Al and George unleash their machismo by burping their campaign slogans, beating up congressmen and challenging a pair of "juggy" babes to a game of "strip international diplomacy." In the show's finale, ex-frat boy Bush drinks Gore under the podium.

'This Old House'

In the most heated debate yet, Gore and Bush blast each other's color scheme choice for the restoration of a Victorian townhome near Alexandria, Va. After hours of bickering with Bush over curtain treatments, Gore storms off the stage muttering, "Am I the only one with taste around here?"

'Antiques Roadshow'

The two candidates submit their budget proposals to the show's team of world-renowned appraisers. After a brief examination, the experts pronounce both plans "totally worthless."

'Jeopardy!'

Gore takes an early lead with a clean sweep of the categories "Famous Jewish Vice Presidents" and "Buddhist Theology." But Bush battles back by running the category "What the definition of 'is' is." After the show, the third contestant, Ralph Nader, complains that he couldn't get on the board because his buzzer was defective and should have been recalled.

'Friends'

Chandler discovers that "the naked guy" in the apartment across the street is actually Bush. Meanwhile, Rachel goes on a date with Gore, who seduces her with his seven-second "convention special" and promises that she can safely let him sleep over because he'll appoint Supreme Court justices who support Roe v. Wade.

'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'

While listening to the candidates blather about Social Security and education, Buffy becomes convinced they are members of the undead and drives stakes through their hearts.

'Soul Train'

In an attempt to court black voters, George and Al get funky. Before boogieing down the Soul Train dance line, Bush makes numerous references to his "homeys, Colin Powell, J.C. Watts and Gary Coleman." Meanwhile, Gore puts to rest his stiff image by actually swiveling his hips a millimeter while singing a new rendition of the theme from "Shaft": "Who's the honorary black private veep that's the sex machine to all the chicks? Gore!"

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E-mail Roy Rivenburg and Martin Miller at socalliving@latimes.com.

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