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The Daily Muse
If you dare
You Colin Powell in shades will
volunteer, soldier

     If the concept of the (Past and Future) Presidents' Voluntary Commitment Summit makes you a little nauseous, we'd be glad to pass you the communal barf bag...

     First of all, it's hard to get into the spirit of the thing with Ex-Gen./future Commander-in-Chief Colin Powell head-butting Al Gore backstage at the Volunteer-or-get-your-ass-whupped rally in Philly. (And of course, there was the stair-tumbling competition between Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford...)
     Don't get us wrong: It's not that we don't believe in the concept of volunteerism. We like to see folks--mostly other folks--help out the people in their communities who need help (and don't we all need it from time to time?).
     But it's another thing to force, cajole or bribe the masses into getting off their behinds and giving their precious time for the common good. Kind of runs counter to the meaning of the word volunteer, if our tattered Webster's is correct...
     If you're going to get a tax break or some other remuneration, then call it what it is: working for money. But don't call it optional.
     But then again, maybe under this new reality, President Bill can say he was only volunteering when he helped raise all that cash in the Lincoln Bedroom...

As if life weren't boring enough...

     You know the election of 1996 is finally over when they start talking about the next one... Jack Kemp in crewcut
     And so it was recently when Jack ("helmet hair") Kemp got on TV and admitted under torture of klieg lights that his "appetite is whetted" about running in 2000.
     Just what we need, a candidate who wants to eat his way to the White House. Come to think of, it isn't that what Bill ("I'll have the extra-large fries with that...") Clinton did in '92? Now he's cut back to just having coffee, and lots of it.
     But the reason we bring up the Kemp thing is that if he does run--and you know he will--against Al Bore, we'll have to set our alarm clocks to stun mode just to make it through the endless debates.
     That, or maybe we'll survive on good old-fashioned java...

What a Rep. Dick Armey Dick

When U.S. House Republican leader Richard ("I don't mind if you call me Dick--really") Armey was asked how Congress would offset an election-year cut in the federal gasoline tax, the first thing that came to his worried mind was slashing education funding. You could just hear the Democrats firing up their fax machines in glee.
Well it only took a couple of days, but even the Texas flat-taxer was just about ready to admit it was less than a wise idea. Still, the closest thing he could come to conceding a bout of foot-in-mouth disease was to say he had been "baited" into the remark.
Too bad they threw him back in the water to bite another day.

The shadow doesn't know

Who do you trust? An overfed woodchuck (AKA groundhog) named
Punxsutawney Phil, who says we in North America are in for another six
months of winter? Or the Muse Mascot, a lean, mean Scotsman pretending
to be a dog, who saw nothing at 7:30 a.m. Friday because he was still
sleeping off the party from the night before?
  Muse Mascot:
  "Look paw, 
   no shadow!"

$ $ $ Welfare, we hardly knew ye $ $ $

With the passage of welfare reform (President Clinton: "I am not a Republican--really") and a whopping 90-cent hike in the hourly U.S. minimum wage (Yipee, Martha. We're rich!), Congress and the Bubster can pat each other on the back so hard they start to bleed.
Think about it. As ever, Uncle Sam giveth with one hand and swipeth with the other. And the folks that made it happen can live with themselves and call it a moral wash.
(It would be most appropriate for the stubs on those bigger paychecks to contain the following message: Don't spend it all in one place...)

Tough on terror

The FAA has done its part--switching airport X-ray machines to their highest setting: STERILIZE.
Now, Congress, faced with the twin shocks of the TWA crash and the Olympics bombing, has bravely passed an anti-terrorism bill in world record time.
Lawmakers insisted that the legislation was tough--not watered down as critics have charged.
Doubts persist, though. Its centerpiece would require all terrorists to register with the government 5 days prior to their attacks...

Let's call the whole thing off

Herewith, presenting something you won't find in the 1996 U.S. presidential campaign: an original idea (No peeking at the punchline!).

Bob Dole gets on Larry King Live (Mandatory first question: "So, do you think O.J. did it?") and says he likes Bill Clinton even though they don't always agree. Bill Clinton gets on MSNBC (Where he tells Tom Brokaw: "Are we really online or can I tell a joke about Hillary and Eleanor?") and says Bob Dole is just swell because Dole loves America.

Every day Bob Dole takes a breath he's a day older and an issue closer to Bill Clinton. (Dole tells campaign aides: "To hell with the Christian Right. We need some moderate votes. Let's get a woman who's pro-choice to keynote the convention.")

Every other day Bill Clinton gets a special prosecutor to open a new file on him, yet he gets more popular in the polls. (Go figure.) Still, the character issue continues to haunt him.

Bill Clinton could talk his way out of a firing squad. Bob Dole majored in speech pathology.

Bob Dole needs a running mate. Bill Clinton needs a clincher.

And now, for the original idea. Think of all the time, money and aggravation spared us all if they'd just called the whole election thing off. But there would still be a choice:

Clinton/Dole '96

or, (on weekends and holidays)

Dole/Clinton '96

OK. Maybe this one isn't so original. After all, there are no new ideas...

Mystery candidate on the tube Who is that guy?

OK, OK. The Bob Dole for President Campaign (Slogan: "Our candidate is older than he looks") will agree to a plan allowing the top contendas for Leader of the Free World to disrupt the viewing habits of millions of innocent Americans this fall. That's when the candidates will give "mini-speeches" during time provided free by the networks. However, Dole will appear on the tube IF and only IF Bill Clinton's face is not visible to the audience.
In a concession, the Clinton-Gore Campaign (Less-concise slogan: "One of us is unindictable...the other is prepared to assume the duties of president...should it become the course of events") agreed to the use of the ubiquitous Blue Dot, courtesy of Court TV.


Just in time for the summer movie season, Ronald Reagan's old idea of using a George Lucas-designed anti-missile defense system has returned, only to be blasted out of the sky by cool heads on Capitol Hill.
Cringing at the thought of plunking down up to $60 billion on the untested plan, Republicans decided to yank the Defend America Act, which had been backed by Bob ("I'm outahere") Dole.
Still, President Bill couldn't resist taking a swipe at the Star Wars plan, calling it "misguided" and saying it could be "obsolete tomorrow."
Instead, the commander-in-chief offered his own, more modest proposal--thousands of slingshots deployed from every rooftop in the land. Clinton said that as an added bonus his plan would "boost young Americans' self-esteem" by putting school-age technology to work.

Stunt men not needed

Remember a while back when Bob Dole (who looks just a regular guy when he keeps his tie off) chided TV and movie producers for putting out material unsuitable for viewing?
Well, he's back on that Hollywood kick again, this time comparing Billy-Bob Clinton's latest welfare policies to "tornadoes in the movie 'Twister.' It looks like a lot is happening, but in reality it's all just special effects."
Clinton aides didn't blink, likening Dole's campaign to another flick:


Speed Hump Ahead traffic sign
We're not naive.
We've heard of quick sex.
But this sign really got our attention...

It must be the thin air

Ah, Montana. Big Sky Country. Home of soaring eagles, beautiful mountains. A great place to travel. And this week, a place to wonder real hard about. First it was the FBI's standoff with the Freemen, heavily armed folks who don't like paying their taxes. Then we learn that a man suspected of being the Unabomber was taken into custody there. So, it's a good bet that come November, Ross Perot won't have to work too hard to carry this state.

It's my party

(I'll cry if I want to)
Ironies are easily stumbled upon in presidential campaigns. But Bob Dole's tearful homecoming in Russell, Kansas, just one day before former U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie passed away was a gem we couldn't overlook.
Maybe the Maine Democrat paved the way for the de facto Republican presidential nominee when he broke down on that back of a flatbed truck on a snowy day in New Hampshire back in 1972, angrily defending his wife against the raunchy accusations of a conservative newspaper editor. Dole, too, was choking back tears as he recalled his early years back in his hometown. But back then Muskie's breakdown--and the perception that he was weak--cost him the Democratic nomination.
This year, Dole's openly worn emotions are winning him admirers. Who knows, maybe Dole in his own way is clearing the path for some future candidate to be completely honest. Probably not.

In New Hampshire: It was win, place, show-and-tell

Patrick Buchanan in New Hampshire state outline Bob Dole in New Hampshire state outline Lamar Alexanderin New Hampshire state outline

N.H. leftovers (still warm, but cooling rapidly)

Dick Lugar, perhaps the only Republican candidate with less charisma than Steve Forbes, wasn't giving up, despite his 7th-place finish in the Iowa presidential caucuses. At a New Hamphsire campaign stop, the Indiana senator said was convinced he would be "discovered. If not here, I hope in some other state along the trail."
Sen. Richard Lugar
Or in an alternative universe where highly intelligent, extremely boring people are held in great esteem.

Rough and ruddy Bob Dornan, who placed dead last in Old Hampshire--even behind the no-longer-running Phil Gramm--demanded a recount.

How do you say 'disgruntled' in Chinese?

Mr. Zip In the name of first-class customer service, U.S. postal
clerks, a much-maligned, must-misunderstood
sector of our society, have been armed with a new weapon against miscommunication. A new pamphlet
called "Point Talk (Don't Shoot)" will give them tips on conversing in nine languages (besides English).

So now they'll be able to bark, "Next!" in Cambodian,
Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian,
Spanish and Vietnamese.

U.S. Postal Service logo
[Don't call it snail mail]

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