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Hair good? Brother bad? Ready to take the oath?

October 26, 2004|Tony Perry | Times Staff Writer

For months now, the nation has heard from members of the political-journalistic complex who think they can explain the whys and wherefores of the presidential election.

From experience, we know that most of what is said by the pontifical class will prove to be dead wrong. Yet they groan on, seemingly oblivious to the fact that hitching the words "political" and "science" doesn't make it so.

So why not something entirely different, something so goofy it may prove to have a dollop of wisdom?

Enter "How They Won: 7 Secrets to Winning the Presidency," an out-of-kilter look at the presidential sweepstakes by comedian-pop culture maven Mo Rocca. With smart-alecky aplomb, he ticks off the things that are truly important, including an image as a common man (regardless of the phoniness of that image), good hair, a great theme song and a talent for mudslinging. Add a black-sheep brother, a photogenic dog and lots of money, and you are virtually assured of a four-year lease on the White House, according to "7 Secrets." Rocca carries it off with sassiness and semi-bright interviews with a Republican pollster, a folk singer, two hairstylists, a historian and, naturally, Dr. Joyce Brothers and CNN analyst Jeff Greenfield.

Did you know that while 30% of American men suffer male-pattern baldness, only one true baldy -- Dwight Eisenhower -- won the presidency in the 20th century and he won only by beating another baldy -- Adlai Stevenson? "Hair is very important," stylist Beryl Wing says. "It symbolizes what's in your head."

Brothers notes that having an embarrassing sibling -- viz. Billy Carter Donald Nixon -- toughens up a candidate and wins sympathy from voters.

Greenfield, asked about presidential snack food, rules out pork loin. No smart candidate should ever come in contact with the word "loin," he says.

"7 Secrets" yearns for the days when John Quincy Adams called Andrew Jackson's mother a prostitute and Jackson responded by calling Adams a traitor and stooge. Adams also had a great song: "Little Know Ye Who's Coming." Rocca tries to keep a tally of how President Bush and Sen. John Kerry fare regarding the "7 Secrets." It's hard work, as the incumbent might say.

To wit: Kerry has a German shepherd. Is that an elitist, flip-flopper dog or what? Then again, the president owns a Scottish terrier, a breed known more for barking than thinking.


'How They Won'

Where: The History Channel

When: 9 tonight

Rating: TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children)

Mo Rocca...Host

Executive producer Bruce David Klein.

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