By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Many of the Bradley people, dressed in gray striped suits with individual name buttons attached, act like they're working for Lyndon LaRouche. As the candidate approaches, they start flopping around, running to and fro, groaning, sweating, and breathing heavily. They are into ropes in a big way, incessantly tying off spaces where the senator is scheduled to speak, knotting off holding pens for the press, and then herding reporters into the secluded areas. "You go there!" they bark in hysterical tones. At the Newport Opera House last Friday, the Bradley suits were presented with a serious challenge because, instead of ropes, they had to make do with chains for the press pen. The chains kept falling apart, leading to growing frustration and screeches of "No, No! Let me do it!" Because Bradley has a thing about cameras, his people have been known to push cameramen to keep them at a proper distance. If a soundman lowers a boom anywhere near the candidate, an aide charges through the film crews, screaming, "Booms Up!" and swatting at the poles to get them away from the sacred space around their man's head, lest they record the great one saying something profound, like, "I need your vote." At the end of a campaign stop, the suits let the spectators out first, then block the press from leaving the building until Bradley is safely into his van and sucking a Coke. "Nazoids!" yelled one photographer. "It's a cult," said another.
To make matters worse, the Bradley people clumsily, and quite openly, play favorites. Last Friday, it was Ted Koppel and his film crews who were allowed to violate the no-fly zone around the senator's head by shooting from above and behind Bradley, while other cameras were forcibly removed. Bradley proceeded to give a sullen, spoilsport talk about what a lying shit Gore has turned out to be. Hello. True to form, Ol' Squirrelhead produced a lugubrious half-hour. Koppel's big news for the evening was that Bradley had exclusively confided to him that he would stay in the race through mid-March. Duh.
Notwithstanding all the flak Gore took in 1996 as solicitor in chief for the Clinton campaign, it looks like more of the same in his presidential quest. Bush may have raised more money than Gore last year ($67 million to $28 million), but Gore has one distinct advantage. He is the sweetheart of the Washington lobbyists, whose firms gave him more than $600,000 in 1999, with their client companies donating many millions more.
Gore's lobbyist pals, in addition to the vice president's former aide and top fundraiser Peter Knight (clients: Bell Atlantic, Schering-Plough, TVA), include former Long Island congressman Tom Downey, who represents Microsoft, as well as drug and chemical companies and airlines, reports The Boston Globe. Two other examples cited by the Globe:
In 1997, Teligent Inc. won a microwave bandwidth worth up to $1 billion. The next year, the company contributed more than $200,000 to Democratic committees, and officials of the company have since given tens of thousands of dollars to Gore's campaign.
Network Solutions Inc. had exclusive government rights to award Internet domain names. When other users cried monopoly, the company hired former Gore domestic-policy adviser Greg Simon as a lobbyist. Though the domain name business has since opened up, NSI is still preeminent.
In Oakland, California, a kindergarten teacher has been placed on administrative leave after ordering Tiana Powell, a five-year-old girl, to lick the chalkboard with her hands behind her back. Powell, a former resident of a homeless shelter, was given the punishment because she disobeyed the teacher's instructions not to write on the board. "I didn't believe it," said Dorothy King, the girl's godmother. "I made her repeat it. I made her show me. It not only made my heart hurt, but it was so disgusting."