Al Gore's Dilemma
Odd Men In
Watch Your Step
'W' and the New World Order
Hillary Loves You
Post-Littleton Panic
Capitol Hill Buttheads

Al Gore's Dilemma
Caught Between the Clintons

No wonder Al Gore is beside himself. He's going down. The ego-driven first couple is going to make sure of that. Try as he might, Gore can't lose the Clintons. Even as his handlers try to separate the snoozy veep, the administration strikes back, as in the story leaked to The New York Times over the weekend about how furious the president was over the ingrate Gore's statements about him. Bill and Hillary just won't go.

After doing his Napoleon IV bit in the Balkans, Clinton taunted Gore with another of his suicide plans to "fix Medicare." Then he floated the idea that after leaving the White House he might run for the Senate from Arkansas. Then he called the story crazy. Every time Clinton opens his mouth, Gore loses votes.

On Monday, the president also announced plans to tap into the tantalizing budget surplus and add $700 billion over 15 years boosting Medicare while covering prescription drugs. In putting forward this plan, Clinton pulled the rug from under Gore on any plan he might propose. Like it or not, Gore— whose own record blocking affordable AIDS drugs for South Africa is disgusting and now hounds him with screaming protesters at practically every stop (see Mondo Washington, June 8)— now has to run on Clinton's plan.

Nor can Gore shed Hillary, who last week kept a high profile in the tabs, hiring Nita Lowey's aide as a campaign adviser and being featured in a battle between Tina Brown and Rudy Giuliani over a Brooklyn Navy Yard bash for Brown's new mag, Talk, which plans to picture her on its first cover. Now, thanks to Webb Hubbell's plea deal with Ken Starr, Hillary's New York run, though apparently free of the threat that she will be subpoenaed to testify, will be accompanied by never- ending speculation on her role in the Hubbell affair.

Foot Note: At the G8 summit, "Imelda" Clinton bought 18 pairs of shoes from Bruno Magli for $5000. Said a Magli rep: "They are classic mid-heel pumps, in black, bone, navy, brown. It's not normal, though, to buy this many shoes at once."

Odd Men In
Russians Creep Toward Kosovo

It turns out that it will take the Russian army 40 days to transport 3600 peacekeeper troops to Kosovo (what are they riding, mules?), underlining once again the lessons learned in this war. The first is that Russia is a dirt poor country with declining sway in European affairs. America's propping up of Yeltsin has staved off anarchy and the rise of the ultra-right, which is just around the corner.

The second lesson lies in the rise of China. Milosevic has stashed millions in China, which over the weekend offered the Serbian strongman asylum. Ironically, it was the Balkans war that propelled China onto center stage. Meanwhile, in this country, the right's new "yellow peril" scare continued unabated, with China reported at the start of this week to be making final preparations to test fire a mobile ICBM incorporating stolen secrets and capable of hitting targets in the western U.S.

Watch Your Step
Slick Willie's Land Mine Lies

"I don't want anyone else to lose an arm or a leg or a child because of a land mine," declared President Clinton in his best touchy-feely style last week on a visit to a refugee camp in Macedonia. Hugging Kosovars in the camp, Clinton implored, "Please be patient with us. Give us a couple more weeks to take the land mines up. You are going to be able to go back in safety and security. I want to make it a happy return."

In fact, one reason the Kosovars will have to tread warily upon returning home is that the U.S., under Clinton, has been the leading world power refusing to sign the Ottawa Treaty banning the use of land mines— which more than 100 nations have signed— thereby clearing the way for their continued use.

Bobby Muller, the Vietnam vet who heads the campaign against land mines in the U.S., says Clinton told him, "I can't afford a breach with the Joint Chiefs of Staff." Muller adds that on one occasion Clinton ridiculed his efforts, asking, "When you're done with this land-mine stuff, why don't you go after rubber bullets?"

Clinton's position is that he'll sign the Ottawa Treaty only if the Pentagon has an alternative weapon— and the president's refusal to set a date for coming up with an alternative leaves U.S. policy on the use of land mines essentially unaltered.

'W' & the New Word Order
Holy Moses

"I have no problem with the Ten Commandments being posted on the walls of every public place," Republican front-runner George W. Bush told reporters last week. But which version? Protestant? Catholic? Jewish? Muslim? "The standard version," replied Bush. "Surely we can agree, as a society, on a version."

Thus did candidate Bush place foot in mouth in what could become a semantic religious quarrel, the implications of which House Republicans totally missed in their rush to twist the debate on gun control by capitalizing on the symbolism of the Ten Commandments. It turns out, of course, that different faiths view the Commandments from varying perspectives, and thus word them, and order them, differently. In addition, some translations are quite wordy and unsuitable to be used as catchy slogans on schoolhouse walls. In short, the whole thing could turn out to be a religious nightmare for the Republicans.

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