Nader rakes in the green

Rich rewards for crusading candidate. Gore plans for retirement as Bush goes high-tech.

By Alicia Montgomery

Published June 19, 2000 4:09PM (EDT)

Ralph Nader proves that crusading for justice pays better than it used to. The Baltimore Sun reports that the Green Party presidential candidate has close to $4 million in the bank, thanks to hefty speaking fees and high-tech investments. Still Nader claims that his causes come first, well ahead of profit. "Money doesn't mean anything to me, except to fund projects. I don't have real estate. I don't have cars. I don't have yachts," he says. Until now, Nader had been fiercely committed to withholding information about his finances, citing privacy concerns.

Stock in Cisco Systems, the Internet networking company, could be a political soft spot in Nader's portfolio. The company stands to make huge gains through globalization, particularly China trade, and many of his supporters are global trade skeptics. Nader's shares of Cisco stock are worth more than $1 million.

Gore plans for retirement
Not everyone's nest egg can grow as big as Nader's, but Al Gore wants government to help citizens save for their golden years, according to the Washington Post. As part of his "progress and prosperity" tour, the vice president will unveil "Retirement Savings Plus," a plan to offer federal matching dollars for workers who build up retirement funds through investment accounts. Gore aims the plan at low- and moderate-income Americans, with a reduced benefit for those at higher incomes. The financial viability of the $200 billion proposal depends on the government surplus surpassing expectations.

The proposal bears a resemblance to an earlier proposal by George W. Bush, but Michael Tanner, director of the Cato Institute's Social Security project, says the plans don't add up. "Both of them are being less than honest about the hard choices," said Tanner, a fan of the Bush approach. "There is no doubt that Bush has not been forthcoming on how he would pay for that [shortfall]. Al Gore has not spelled out how he is going to pay for the current system."

High-tech lessons from Bush
The trusty chalkboard should make way for a computer screen in schools if Bush has his way. Reuters reports that Bush's latest education push would devote $400 million to making more classrooms cyberspace-ready. But the Texas governor reiterated his theme of accountability for teachers, and was careful to distinguish his plan from Gore's crusade to close the digital divide. "The real divide is in educational achievement, not just digital access," Bush's campaign literature declared. "Technology is a tool, and the goal must be improved student performance."

Bush babe watch
One low-tech strategy that seems to work for the Republican's presidential race is putting your best face forward. In Bush's case, that face belongs to his nephew George P., star of recent campaign ads for his uncle. Calling the 24-year-old "a major hottie," USA Today reports that George P. is the political world's flavor of the month, and is especially turning heads in the Hispanic community. "He just popped out of nowhere, and now it's like, 'Ooh, la-la!'" said Angelo Figueroa, managing editor of People en Español, the popular magazine's Spanish-language offshoot. "He's hunky. There's definitely a buzz."

In addition to being a pretty face, George P. is a veteran campaigner, making his debut appearance on the trail 20 years ago for his grandfather's first presidential race.

Politics not ready for prime time
Don't worry about missing the latest "Survivor" episode because of political coverage this summer. The Los Angeles Times reports that the major television networks will be tuning out much of this year's party conventions. The three big networks will carry the nominees' acceptance speeches, but plan to cover little else, leaving PBS and cable stations to step into the void.

Television executives blame the "no news is good news" attitude among the parties for the decreasing drama and public interest in the conventions, and say that the dismal ratings for the conventions justify minimized coverage. "It simply no longer makes sense for a commercial broadcaster to preempt its prime-time programming," said Marc Burstein, executive producer of special events for ABC News. "It's not what we do in the year 2000 for a non-news event." ABC plans to squeeze some convention coverage in during halftime of preseason football games.

Poll positions
Presidential race:

  • Bush 50 to Gore 40 (Los Angeles Times June 8-13).
  • Bush 47 to Gore 39 (Zogby June 9-12).
  • Bush 49 to Gore 45 (ABC News/Washington Post June 8-11).
  • Bush 48 to Gore 44 (CNN/USA Today/Gallup June 6-7).

    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
  • Fred Thompson, 6 percent
  • Christine Todd Whitman, 5 percent
  • John Kasich, 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.

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  • Alicia Montgomery

    Alicia Montgomery is an associate editor in Salon's Washington bureau.

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