Bush's slasher-flick past

Gore bashes and woos entertainers, Letterman gets a shot at the Democratic candidate, Bush caves on debates and polls point in two directions.



Alicia Montgomery
September 15, 2000 4:00PM (UTC)

George W. Bush has portrayed himself as the candidate best able to take on the pop-culture bad guys, such as moviemakers who market violent films to children. But the Texas governor's past could put a hitch in that plan, according to the New York Post. From 1986 to 1993, Bush earned $100,000 sitting on the board of directors of the Silver Screen Management Co., which financed 1986 horror flick "The Hitcher." During Bush's tenure on the board, Silver Screen also helped bankroll kinder, gentler fare such as "Dead Poets Society" and "Pretty Woman." Bush communications chief Karen Hughes says that Bush's connection to "The Hitcher" is nothing compared with the close ties between Al Gore and Hollywood bigwigs.

Baby, hit me one more time
After a week of beating up on entertainers, Gore was reminded of one thing he really likes about Hollywood honchos: their big, fat wallets. The vice president spent Thursday night at a Radio City Music Hall fundraiser that featured stars like Bette Midler, Paul Simon, Michael Douglas and Julia Roberts. For Gore, it was the third straight night of Hollywood hobnobbing for profit -- the Democrats have pocketed $10 million from this week's star-studded events.

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Republicans, meanwhile, called Gore and his running mate, Joseph Lieberman, hypocrites. "Al Gore is faking the criticism of the Hollywood elite for producing this scurrilous stuff, for glorifying explicit sex, violence against women and degrading the minds of our children," said Republican National Committee chairman Jim Nicholson. But the vice president's campaign said that its attack-and-schmooze relationship with the industry just proves that the Democrats aren't slaves to their donors. "The Bush approach ... is to take gobs of money from the HMO industry, the prescription drug industry, from the big oil companies, and then parrot the agenda of those special interests," said Gore spokesman Chris Lehane.

The Al and Dave show
Gore took a break from bashing the entertainment industry -- and taking its money -- to step onstage himself. The Democratic presidential hopeful put in an appearance on the "Late Show With David Letterman," which aired Thursday night. While the vice president has been a frequent target of Letterman's barbs, according to Reuters, he wasn't above borrowing one for his "Top Ten" list of rejected campaign slogans. Gore's No. 9 was "Remember America. I Gave You the Internet, and I Can Take It Away. Think About It." He also answered questions about the campaign, and played another round of kiss-and-tell, explaining that his convention smooch with Tipper Gore was "just a little peck."

The vice president was apparently happy to play along with the caustic host. United Press International reports that Gore even costarred with Lieberman in a taped spoof of Bush's "asshole" gaffe. Letterman has yet to hear the final word on whether and when Bush will appear on his show.

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You don't always get what you want
Letterman had originally requested that Bush and Gore debate on his program, but the "Late Show" didn't make the Commission on Presidential Debates' top-three list of approved contests. The Los Angeles Times reports that both candidates have approved the commission's plan of three 90-minute debates along with one vice presidential contest, all scheduled for October. This agreement came in spite of Bush's diva-esque declaration two weeks ago that he would attend only one 60-minute CPD contest, and participate in other debates on "Larry King Live" and "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert. When Gore and the CPD refused to back down from the commission schedule, Bush reconsidered.

Split-poll soup
Bush's debate-resistance debacle was one in a series of stumbles that has sunk the Republican's numbers in public opinion surveys. Or has it? Two new polls paint surprisingly different pictures of the race and the trajectory of both major candidates. The latest USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll shows the vice president leading Bush 49 to 42 percent, with a four-point margin of error. In that survey, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader earned 3 percent, while Buchanan hovered at 1 percent. But a Voter.com poll shows that Bush is back ahead of Gore, with 50 percent to Gore's 44. Nader scored 4 percent, and Buchanan got 1 percent. That poll has a three-point margin of error.

Poll positions
Presidential race:

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  • Gore 49 to Bush 42 (USA Today/CNN/Gallup Sept. 11-13).
  • Bush 50 to Gore 44 (Voter.com Sept. 10-13)
  • Gore 46 to Bush 39 (Reuters/Zogby Sept. 10-12).
  • Gore 42 to Bush 39 (New York Times/CBS News Sept. 9-11).
  • Gore 45 to Bush 42 (NBC/Wall Street Journal Sept. 7-10).
  • Gore 47 to Bush 39 (Newsweek Sept. 7-8).
  • Gore 47 to Bush 47 (Washington Post/ABC News Sept. 4-6).
  • Gore 49 to Bush 39 (Newsweek Aug. 30-31).

    Third-party candidates:

  • Nader 3 to Buchanan 1 (USA Today/CNN/Gallup Sept. 11-13).
  • Nader 4 to Buchanan 1 (Voter.com Sept.10-13)
  • Nader 4 to Buchanan 1 (Reuters/Zogby Sept. 10-12).
  • Nader 4 to Buchanan 2 (New York Times/CBS News Sept. 9-11).
  • Nader 4 to Buchanan 1 (NBC/Wall Street Journal Sept. 7-10).
  • Nader 3 to Buchanan 1 (Washington Post/ABC News Sept. 4-6).
  • Nader 3 to Buchanan 1 (Newsweek Aug. 30-31).

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  • Alicia Montgomery

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

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