Bush on beer: "I liked the way it tasted"

Gore pulls a Bradley on Bush, whose words continue to escape him.

Published May 5, 2000 11:00AM (EDT)

George W. Bush gets a chance to score some prime-time points Friday night after a week of drubbing by Al Gore. He and his wife, Laura, sit down with Barbara Walters on "20/20," and Bush says of Gore during the interview, "I'm a little worried about a man who tends to stretch the truth in order to get ahead politically." And he's convinced Gore will say anything "in order to defame me."

But there are apparently no tears. After bringing up Bush's much-fabled past drinking, Walters asks -- zeroing in for the money shot -- why he thought he ever needed to drink in the first place. But the candidate, as usual, steers away from deep reflection, answering: "Probably because I liked the way it tasted. There's nothing better than a cold beer and Mexican food here, or a cold beer and barbecue, and, and, I, you know, maybe as an escape. Could've been, you know, I might've used it as a crutch. All I know is that it was beginning to compete with my energies and my affections and I quit."

Elsewhere, under fire

Bush continues to defend himself against a claim that he would let the National Rifle Association "work out of his office" -- an assertion made by the NRA's No. 2 and captured on videotape.

And as President Clinton stumped for Gore on the campaign trail, press secretary Joe Lockhart also took a swipe at Bush, saying, "It's not very often I get the opportunity to use these words ... which is: The NRA said something today that I agree with." In addition, the Washington Post weighs in with criticism of Bush's faith-based social service reforms in Texas.

The New York Times contends that Bush is only the most recent victim of Gore's most successful campaign strategy: a relentless, attacking style. Republicans hope that, unlike Bill Bradley, Bush will be able to counteract Gore's attacks with "his sunny persona, his humor and his ability to cloak tart retorts in genial language" -- which, says one GOP pollster, make Gore come across "as a whining, yapping little dog" by comparison. Still, the piece says, "there is a certain logic, some analysts say, to Mr. Gore's efforts at harshly undermining Mr. Bush, and doing so sooner rather than later."

Even more "English Patient" jabs

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank wonders whether the press should be treating Bush's frequent verbal stumbles with more discretion -- "Surely we wouldn't make fun of a man suffering from diabetic attacks or epileptic seizures" -- and explores what exactly might be behind Bush's slip-ups. One expert has pronounced Bush's condition "verbal goulash syndrome" and another has called him "motorically vulnerable."

More Clinton computer blues

Former White House Counsel Charles Ruff testified before a congressional panel that "never -- not once -- did anyone on my staff seek to conceal any document," as the panel continued to probe the disappearance of a large cache of White House e-mails that were not turned over to investigators when they were subpoenaed in 1998. Meanwhile, two more laptops have been discovered missing from the State Department, including one checked out to a close advisor to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The two laptops were found to be missing after an inventory search prompted by the loss of a laptop containing highly classified information.

Whom should you vote for?

Take our survey and find out. You might be surprised.

Poll positions

Presidential race: (previous)

  • Bush 46 to Gore 41 (NBC/Wall Street Journal April 29-May 1).

  • Bush 49 to Gore 44 (Gallup/CNN/USA Today April 28-30).

  • Bush 47 to Gore 38 (Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll April 26-27).

  • Bush 43 to Gore 41 (CBS News April 15-17).

  • Bush 44 to Gore 42 (Newsweek April 13-14).

    Vice presidential preferences (previous):

    Preferences for Republican vice presidential candidate among Republican voters (NBC/Wall Street Journal April 29-May 1):

  • Colin Powell, 39 percent
  • Elizabeth Dole, 19 percent
  • John McCain, 18 percent
  • Christine Todd Whitman, 5 percent
  • Fred Thompson, 6 percent
  • John Kaisch, 4 percent
  • Tom Ridge, 3 percent
  • Other, 1 percent
  • Not sure, 5 percent

    Preferences for Democratic vice presidential candidate among all voters (Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll March 22-23):

  • Bill Bradley, 27 percent
  • Dianne Feinstein, 10 percent
  • Bob Kerrey, 6 percent
  • Bob Graham, 5 percent
  • John Kerry, 4 percent
  • Bill Richardson, 4 percent
  • Evan Bayh, 3 percent
  • Other, 6 percent
  • Not sure, 35 percent

    New York Senate:

  • Clinton 46 to Giuliani 44 (Quinnipiac College April 24-30).

  • Clinton 43 to Giuliani 43 (Zogby April 28-29).

  • Clinton 52 to Giuliani 42 (New York Times/CBS News April 1-5).

  • Giuliani 46 to Clinton 43 (Marist Institute March 27-28).

    Talking heads

  • C-Span's "Washington Journal":

    7 a.m. -- Open phones.

    8:15 a.m. -- Jim Motavalli, E:The Environment Magazine.

    9 a.m. -- Open phones.

    9:15 a.m. -- Stephen Moore, Club for Growth, on candidates committed to economic growth, tax cuts and Social Security reform.

    Watch "Washington Journal" on the Web.

    Sound off

    E-mail Trail Mix with your comments, suggestions and tips at alicia@salon.com.

  • By Kerry Lauerman

    MORE FROM Kerry Lauerman

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