Read the Manifesto (Ostrich Race, Part 1)

The Dog Days of Campaign '96 (Ostrich Race, Part 2)

by Paul Tullis     

September 3

My perverted editor Mikki wants me to interview Dick Morris' call girl.See No Evil? Excited about a trip to D.C., I agree. When Mikki informs me that she was talking about a phone interview. I am disappointed. I try calling the publisher of The Star, which broke the story, but he won't call me back. I repeatedly inform his assistant that we're prepared to pay for her time, but to no avail. Trying to be resourceful, Mikki suggests I call a phone sex operator and discuss the election with her. I find this, well, disagreeable. Mikki thinks me a prude. I remind her she's not paying me enough to do actual work for this thing. [ed. note: we could only afford one whore, Paul.]

September 5

Last night I was at a baseball game and heard someone talking about Al Gore doing the macarena. I can only hope the person was kidding.

September 7

It's basically impossible to keep abreast of news without running into election coverage. You follow the latest bombing of Iraq, you get a comment from Bob Dole (who does not hold public office right now, thank you very much.) Reading an article in today's Times about how Clinton had an ingrown zit removed from his neck, you come to a paragraph about how Dole is trying to make Clinton's acne into a campaign issue.

September 11

I'm amazed by the lack of interest in this campaign. Just about everybody I hang out with, including the media- and activist-types, really don't give a fuck. I must have picked a perfect election to ignore; the whole thing just seems really boring, even for politics. Of course, part of this general apathy has to do with the fact that I live in a place whose average citizen is to the left of either major candidate, and therefore is not represented by either of them. I don't know if Perot has entered the race yet, but I don't expect a dwarfish Texan billionaire to inspire anybody I know. Nader's campaign is considered either a joke for its lack of engagement, or a betrayal of the Green Party (which of course was founded here in California) for the same reason. I actually have to coax people into talking about this stuff. This assignment is not making me any friends.

September 19

"If he wasn't such a mean-spirited bastard, I'd feel sorry for him," my friend John said the day after Dole fell off a podium or out of bed or something. "The fragile old fuck is such a fucking liar: He says he wants the government off our backs, but he's the type of fascist who wants the government breaking down your damn door to make sure you're watching Dole-approved movies and listening to Dole-approved music. What a shithead." He also told me that Dole popped a blood vessel in his eye. "He should get a patch. A patch, and then a hook on the end of his gimpy arm. THEN I'd vote for him; he'd be like the seafaring dude on 'The Simpsons.' 'Aarrrghh. A parrot on every shoulder.'"

September 23

Went to a wedding in Bakersfield, California last weekend and reunited with some college friends. Melanie was there. She works in Web programming in Portland and is friends with the people who did Perot's election website. Her friends originally proposed to do a website for Clinton-Gore, but they were turned down. Undaunted, they replaced every "Clinton" in the proposal with "Perot" and went after job. They got it!

Josh, another friend, drove down from San Francisco on what is known here as the Grapevine —"Interstate 5 through San Joaquin Valley, the most financially lucrative farmland in the world—and reported seeing "at least 100 billboards" bearing "radical right-wing political messages" that displayed "a Minuteman-level paranoia." He said it was unclear whether they were homemade or sponsored by a party. "I can't believe people are calling Bill Clinton a left-wing liberal." He added. "The guy's totally pro-business in every way and always has been."

Rob, the groom, told me about someone in the wedding party whose parents are obsessed with the idea that Clinton has a nasty coke habit. (And he wasn't talking about the coke you get at McDonald's, ifyouknowwhatimsayin.) Earlier, he talked with them, and they asked if he noticed "anything strange about Bill Clinton's nose." Rob wondered if this theory was connected to the Republicans' clamoring for Clinton's health records. I had no idea what he was talking about, just nodded and changed the subject.

September 26

A note from my editor Mikki arrived. She's griping again.

Mr. Tullis:

1. Not many men can work both Baywatch and the khmer rouge into one article. I applaud you.

2. I dunno, maybe this is a natural outcome of the format we wedged you in, but I keep feeling like you're missing a lot of spicy hearsay and rumors. I heard that Ross Perot's veep guy BLACKMAILED him into the nomination because he was going to expose that when they cowrote that book, Ross didnt contribute at all! (go figure). And what about the alleged bongs and dildos on the White House Christmas tree? Do you not hear these things? Maybe I should introduce you to some of my friends.

— Mikki Halpin

September 30

No news this week.

None of Mikki's friends called.</end>

Next Week: Paul's story of Os—The October Ostrich report

Paul Tullis is senior editor of Might magazine. He lives in San Francisco.