Climbing to power on black trench

Buchanan, Quayle and other presidential candidates weigh in on Littleton; it's gotta be babies, not bunnies, for Hugh and Hurley.

Published April 30, 1999 7:00AM (EDT)

One person's tragedy is another's photo-op, at least when that second person is a presidential candidate. Over the past week we've heard all sorts of political prattle spun from the horrific high-school murders in Littleton. Is it a lesson in gun control, safer schools or a return to family values and more parental responsibility? Take your pick, Oval Office aspirants -- and make it part of your platform.

Our suddenly vigorous veep zipped down to the stricken Colorado suburb on Sunday and invoked the fervid religious tone he usually saves for addressing African-American groups. "Parents, we can stop the violence and the hate," Al Gore said, wooden fist assuredly raised in the air. "In a culture rife with violence ... we can rise up and say, 'No more.'"

Re-running conservative columnist Pat Buchanan, who issued a press release calling the president's move to tighten gun control "delusional and demagogic," came out with guns blazing on Monday on CNN. "Something is wrong in society when 17-year-olds think it's a neat thing to massacre classmates," he said. "No gun control is going to deal with that. We've got to rebuild the conscience-forming institutions in society." Like the NRA, for instance?

Republican party animal George W. Bush attributed the killings to soggy morals, saying, "We must redouble our efforts to teach our children right from wrong." (Should we teach them not to get knee-walkin' drunk and dance nekkid on bars, too, Georgie?) Y2K-preoccupied Sen. John McCain and his wife, Cindy, offered their prayers. Potentially potent Elizabeth Dole said schools should provide "safety, not violence." Christian conservative Gary Bauer blamed TV. And Lamar Alexander offered a fluffy-as-flannel assessment of the situation, calling the teens' violent outburst "another wake-up call to all Americans" without specifying just what we all ought to be waking up to.

But Alexander's comments were bested in the "huh?" category by Mr. Family Values himself, Dan Quayle. "You wonder what possesses young people to do something like this," the former vice POTUS, who for once was not alone in finding something "hard to fathom," whiffed on CNBC. Then, later in the week, quixotic Quayle thought maybe it all came back to that family thing after all. "The parents need to get in the children's face when they raise them," he said on "Crossfire." "You're not there to be just the child's best friend, you're there as a parent ... And if you see a sawed-off shotgun or whatever else laying around the house, take it away." OK, that oughta solve it.

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Time to give Divine Brown another call

"I must have children ... It's getting ridiculous. I must get down to it. Everyone has them but me. I think I would be a delightful father ... Elizabeth said she wants babies but I'm a bit worried about her. She told me once she wanted a rabbit so I bought her one once but after about an hour, she got fed up with it."

-- Actor Hugh Grant on breeding with his shagedelic model/actress girlfriend, Elizabeth Hurley. (London Daily Telegraph)

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Hand over those smelling salts, Ingrid. The CEO of Ebay just fainted

The Ebay faithful must be all aflutter. First, a few weeks ago, domain-name peddler Tefabob Global Enterprises auctioned off the "Star Wars"-inspired URL on the online auction site and was shocked to discover, when Ebay tried to collect its $133,000 commission, that the winning $10 million bid was a fake. Ebay officials quickly declared the auction void, and with the pesky prankster still at large, Tefabob had to start the bidding over again.

And now, out of Philly, comes the Ebay-shattering tale of Andrew Tyler, a crafty 13-year-old kid who, in recent weeks, has placed around $3.1 million in bids on Ebay merchandise, although that's far more than his weekly allowance can support. "It's sort of weird that it's so open to everyone," the eighth-grader, who bid on a red Corvette convertible, a van Gogh painting, a real Swedish Viking ship, a medical office in Florida and an antique bed said to have belonged to Canada's first prime minister, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "They don't ask you for your credit card or any proof that you're over 18."

When the owner of the antique bed called to discuss Andrew's winning $900,000 bid, the quick-thinking kid reportedly told him, "Andrew Tyler is not home." Eventually, however, Andrew's mom, Ingrid, was contacted. Informed of her son's purchase, she said, "I'm hyperventilating. I think I'm going to faint."

All has been sorted out now. Ingrid has recovered, the duped auction house proprietors say they're not angry at Andrew (whose account has been closed and who has -- alas -- lost his Internet privileges), and the Swedish Viking ship is back on the market. Let the bidding begin ... Do I hear $10 million? (Would make a sensational playhouse, Hugh.)

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Stalking the stalker ...

"I feel I'm using Michael in a similar way to how he used Roger Smith. It was essentially a career move, mostly about promoting Michael Moore."

-- Filmmaker Alan Edelstein on his motives for relentlessly videotaping and thoroughly annoying his former employer, professional filmmaker/harasser Michael Moore. (The Washington Post)

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Airborne with a silver foot in his mouth?

Plenty of people have longed to tell former President George Bush to go take a flying leap. Now, on the occasion of his 75th birthday, the maturing man may do just that, performing (as he first did three years ago) a feat even more awe-inspiring than living in about 700 states at once. In June, he will again step out into the great blue sky, along with two instructors, for a parachute-controlled accelerated free fall. Rumors that he'll be using Barbara's girdle as a chute are unconfirmed ... and just plain rude. | April 30, 1999

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By Amy Reiter

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