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Simon Loyalists Say E-Mail Dirty Trick Backfired

July 14, 2003|Patt Morrison | Times Staff Writer

Nope, it wasn't us, they say.

Supporters of Bill Simon for governor -- both last year, and now as a candidate in a probable recall election -- say it wasn't their loyalists who sent out an e-mail letter signed "Team Simon" volunteers and advising Simon to sit out the election to avoid splitting the party vote and worse.

Joel Strom, the Team Simon chair, says no one from his statewide leadership group wrote such a letter, and whoever did "did not accomplish the goal he/she apparently set out to achieve and, in fact, only helped to sharpen our focus on our work as volunteers."

A letter to the "Team Simon Statewide Leadership" characterized the "PLEASE BILL, DON'T RUN" letter as a "silly prank concocted by a nervous potential opponent who fears our strong statewide organization." The effort "to distract and divide us" in fact "failed miserably," it said, because Team Simon remains "strongly intact" and "highly supportive of Bill's bright political future."

Who might be behind such a dismissive missive? Team Simon's leadership wouldn't speculate, but you know you've got an election on your hands when this sort of thing gets up and running.

Watergate scandal history is footnoted with dirty-tricks techniques, almost all directed at the opposing party, like the notorious "Canuck letter," a letter to a New Hampshire newspaper falsely quoting 1972 Democratic presidential candidate Ed Muskie as having made an insulting reference to French Canadians as "Canucks."

Tricksters were also fond of frat-boy stunts like ordering hundreds of dollars' worth of pizza delivered to Democratic rallies and sticking the Democrats with the tab. Just before the 1992 election, someone in Orange County did the same thing, sending a flier to a homeless soup kitchen announcing free pizza at the nearby Democratic headquarters. When homeless men showed up, the flummoxed Dems obligingly sent out for pizza and doughnuts.

But Simon and anyone else contemplating a run for the recall governorship may have bigger problems than political pranks:

Angelyne, the billboard babe who ran for a spot on the unrealized city of Hollywood council, will be writing her $3,500 check to get her name on the recall ballot. For what party, you ask? Independent, of course. This is a woman who auctioned off her underwear to finance her council campaign.

Clinton's Still a Talker as an Action Figure

The First Fellow, take two. With its Talking George Bush figure selling above 100,000, the Irvine-based Talking Presidents firm is releasing the second in its series of presidential action figures, Bill Clinton. (No, not that kind of action -- shame on you.)

Like the Bush figure, which utters tough sound bites in GWB's actual voice -- "Terrorism against our nation will not stand" -- and malapropisms -- "We're working hard to put food on your family" -- the Clinton figure speaks 18 "historical and hysterical" phrases.

Among them are his line-in-the-sand line on changing welfare to be "a second chance, not a way of life," and the memorable quotations from l'affaire Lewinsky, including "It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

Rush Seems to Have No Equal on the Left

Folks of Democratic and leftward bent have been casting about for a Rush Limbaugh balancing act, a national liberal radio talk-show host who can generate both heat and humor -- with little luck to date.

Christopher Flannery, associate editor of the Claremont Review of Books, published by the Claremont Institute, diagnoses the problem in his essay "No Limbaughs on the Left." He observes that "compared with the real El Rushbo ... the lefty pretenders appeared, to friend and foe alike, anemic, wan, somehow depressing. In a word, grim; even the professional comedians. The Left is not a barrel of laughs...." Flannery cites a few left-on-the-dial programs, but concludes, "The lefter you go, the grimmer it gets."

Parks' Punchlines Win a Friars Club Callback

Among the luminaries arrayed for Sunday's Friars Club roast of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt: Larry King, Dennis Hopper, Jerry Buss -- and L.A. City Councilman and former LAPD Chief Bernard C. Parks.

Evidently Parks -- laconic, terse Parks -- was such a comedy hit at last year's roast of Magic Johnson that he got a callback. His son and spokesman, Bernard Jr., says, "People didn't think he was going to be funny for some reason, but he was hilarious, and they invited [him] back." Even on behalf of Larry Flynt, pornographer?

"There are going to be people who have issues with it," said Parks Jr., "but [Flynt] represents some 1st Amendment issues, and he is a businessman in the city of Los Angeles."

Besides, he said, Parks Sr. gets a special kick out of the Friars Club events "because he used to park cars there when he was a teen."

Points Taken

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