The GOP's phantom menace

Sen. Bob Smith: The man who makes Jesse Helms look granola; "Star Wars" deprivation in Menomonie, Wis.; for the record: George W. Bush may have done drugs.

By Amy Reiter

Published May 26, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

What's a GOP presidential candidate to do when his poll numbers are in the depths of the terlet and his own party wouldn't be too sorry to see someone hit "flush"?

If you're |ber-conservative U.S. Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., the answer just might be ditch the increasingly moderate party, make new friends and see if you can't get a little attention that way. (Yup, it has all the big-earmarks of Ross Perot in 1992.)

On his Web site and in the conservative press, Smith (so right-wing, he makes Sen. Jesse "Death to the NEA" Helms look like super-crunchy Sen. Paul Wellstone) has been hinting that he's considering skipping out on his meager bid for the Republican nomination to run as a third party candidate, with the conservative U.S. Taxpayers Party.

Fed up with "all the Republican pollsters" who advise candidates "to stay away from abortion, don't talk about controversial issues," he says he's
"worried for the sake of my party," and recently offered these wise thoughts via the Washington Times: "If you take the pro-life, pro-gun and Christian conservative people out of the Republican Party, well, you don't have a Republican Party."

OK, Mr. Gore and Mr. Bradley, you can stop drooling in anticipation any time now ...

- - - - - - - - - - - -

May the Force catch up with you

A victimless crime? Tell that to "Star Wars" fans in Menomonie, Wis.

The phantom menaces who swiped a 60-pound spooled "Episode I" film from Menomonie's State Theater better hope the Force is with them. The FBI is hot on the trail of the wily thieves, who struck early Saturday morning. And the "Star Wars" fans who were deprived of weekend showings aren't so happy either.

"It's disheartening because we had advance tickets sold," said theater owner Nick LeGros, adding that this is the first act of celluloid snatching he's experienced in his 23 years in the biz. "In fact, one party that had purchased tickets were on vacation from Chicago. It's too bad that a few people can spoil evenings of fun for many." Police hope the pranksters will cop a plea and return the film some Jedi night soon.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Move over, prof. Oprah. Tabitha's got a syllabus, too

"The aim of this class is to teach students how to prepare, conduct and edit interviews for print, radio and television. Students will learn how to interview all sorts of people: shy people, mean people, long-winded people, celebrities, obscurities, etc."

-- An excerpt from the description of "The Art of Interviewing," a course that former MTV News reporter Tabitha Soren will teach at UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism this fall.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Who said George W. Bush denied having dabbled in drugs?

I did in yesterday's column -- incorrectly, it seems. While the Bush camp has generally labeled statements in Zack Exley and RTMark's satiric Web site "false," it has not, to my knowledge, specifically denied that the Republican presidential hopeful ever used drugs. My deepest apologies to the Bush campaign for implying that the governor was clean. After all, what else but a nice noseful would explain the alleged bar-top do-si-do of yore?

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Yachts of luck!

"I'm OK. Life raft very comfortable."

-- 71-year-old British boater Patricia Landamore in a message to her son after being rescued from her sinking yacht in the South Pacific by a British family in another luxury yacht.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Hey, Jude, don't be so rude ...

Julian Lennon doesn't have anything nice to say about his late famous father, so for a long time he hasn't said much at all.

But having given peace a chance, he's now making a strong public statement by dedicating his first album in seven years, "Photograph Smile," not to his biological dad, John Lennon, but to his late stepfather, Roberto Bassanini, who, he says in an upcoming USA Weekend magazine, "was the one who took me to school every day. He was the guy."

Of his Beatle dad, who ditched Julian's mom, Cynthia, when Julian was only 5 and showed up only about a dozen times thereafter, he had these bitter words: "The only thing he taught me was how not to be a father ... He walked out the bloody door and was never around. I'd admire him on TV -- listen to his words and opinions. But for someone who was praised for peace and love and wasn't able to keep that at home, that's hypocrisy."

But peace-promoting pops gets off easy compared to Julian's stepmom, Yoko Ono. "In Yoko's mind, the only important Lennon family is Yoko and [Julian's half-brother] Sean [Lennon] ... But he and I are blood, and the only thing Yoko will never have is the Lennon blood and talent. She has everything else."

Can't fault the guy for being angry, but perhaps a more accurate name for the new album would be "Photograph Grimace."

Amy Reiter

MORE FROM Amy Reiter

Related Topics ------------------------------------------