"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 17 September 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CXLIX



As predicted in this column last

week, rumors of the White

House's secret-spilling

"scorched-earth" campaign have

touched off a blaze of

preemptive confessions involving

some of the most powerful

figures in Washington. As

Senator John Kerry scrambles to

explain a recent visit to his

home by a 22-year-old "job

applicant," our sources inside

the Beltway say more scandals

may be revealed in the weeks to

come. House Speaker Newt

Gingrich is said to be

struggling to explain a tryst he

arranged in which the

Constitution was sodomized by no

fewer than five prominent

lobbyists in a Washington hotel

room. Sources say leading

Republican party and Christian

Coaliton figures are preparing a

statement detailing a

ménage à trois

with an unnamed 209-year-old

document, which will include a

memorable double-penetration by

church and state. And Senator

Jesse Helms, with the verbal

encouragment of former

Congressional Black Caucus

leader Kweisi Mfume, is reported

to have had "rough sex" with

Brown v. Board of Education of

Topeka (no statement is

expected, as the patient is

still recovering). Reports of

Kenneth Starr's 12-inch

subpoenas, however, now appear

to lack supporting evidence.



We understand that "<COMPANY NAME TK>'s Site

Hacked!" still makes a

dependable slow-news-day

headline, but isn't it time

these code-breaking miscreants

performed some actual mayhem

when they turn the Man's

technology against him? Hackers

in the movies manage to download

"nuclear secrets" and steal the

NOK list. Why can't the ones in

real life do anything more

impressive than tagging digital

billboards and leaving 1N4NE

MESS4G3S? This week's New York

Times online break-in is a case

in point. Sure, the H4CK1NG 4

G1RL13Z announcement was about

as informative as your average

Sulzberger front page. But while

the HFGs were wreaking havoc on

43rd Street, couldn't they

have done something useful, like

demolishing the Times' abysmal

archiving system or tricking

the HR mainframe into sending

Abe Rosenthal his

decades-overdue pink slip?



Although we hadn't given him the

boot in two years or so, we

really missed having Jon Katz to

kick around and hoped his

disappearance from the HotWired

masthead wouldn't be permanent.

We just weren't prepared to have

him back so soon. Already on his

second column for Al Neuharth's

Freedom Forum, Katz hasn't lost

a step during his weeks in the

Web wilderness. But we were a

little concerned about the

Forum press release announcing

that the Original Netizen "will

write columns about media and

technology twice a week for

free!" Even with his diminished

Q rating, we figured Katz should

at least be writing for food.

The prolific Payne in the Net

assures us, however, that he

hasn't stooped to giving it away

in exchange for a place to flop;

"free!" is the name of the

publication, and the new gig

will help keep him in his

accustomed style (basement choo-

choo set, kids' college, crack

rock the size of the Hope

Diamond, etc.). This may in fact

be the beginning of a new dawn

for Katz's celebrities status. The

cancellation of his HotWired

column drew an unexpected

outpouring of emotion, and the

title of his new book, Rise of

the Geeks, has a nicely

Promethean chutzpah. Sales of

the Katz oeuvre in the secondary

market are inconclusive - a used

copy of his suburban mystery

Death by Station Wagon fetches

up to US$37.50 at Bibliofind,

while his famously remaindered

Sign Off can be had for as

little as $2.95. No matter: We

know Katz is a bargain at any




It's pretty rare that a TV

commercial really gets us going,

but when we saw NBC's first

house ad for its online

searchcommerceportal on Tuesday,

we sat right down to type


into that little browser

thingee. When that didn't work

we tried "snap.com-from-nbc" and

then "snap.com.from.n.b.c."

before we finally gave up. Just

like the 99 percent of Net users

who were unable to name NBC and

CNET's nonstart page in a

first-quarter survey. We can

appreciate NBC's desire to build

the site's traffic, though. With

ABC and Fox, not to mention WBN,

all making e-commerce

throat-clearing noises, the

House Jerry Built is going to

have to march double-time to get

a critical mass of desktop

buyers. Once they've got the

eyeballs, the Peacock Network

might consider a smart first

move into the digital barter

fray: finding somebody to buy

its 19 percent stake in

"Snap.com from NBC."



"We are all reporters now," the

revived Katz writes, describing

Friday's six-million-strong

cigar klatsch. Inspired by these

words, we popped right over to

Usenet for a little of the

unvarnished truth that top-down

media has been keeping from us.

All we'll say at this time is

that it's a sordid tale of

corruption at the lowest levels:




Election season is upon us. And

although there are plenty of

folks who'd love to see a

national referendum on cigars or

a popular vote on the Gap, most

of us will have to settle for

the dog race of a gubernatorial

campaign. In Minnesota,

Tuesday's primaries pitted a

raft of famous favorite sons

against each other, including

Hubert H. Humphrey III and

Walter Mondale's son Ted. As if

seeing sons of vice presidents

throwing their receding

hairlines into the ring weren't

evidence enough that Devo really

did know something about natural

selection, former Minnesota

governor Orville Freeman's kid

Mike turned up for a trouncing,

and any of these heartland

Romanovs who harbor national

ambitions will probably end up

running against George Bush Jr.

But what could have been a blood

bath for the Democrat-Farm-Labor

party turned out to be more of a

classic Nordic snoozer. It

hardly mattered which namesake

won, since he'd only bite the

big burrito at showtime anyway -

just like dear old dad. Indeed,

considering the fact that

Humphrey (the landslide winner)

will now face the Reform party's

Jesse "The Body" Ventura in the

general election, DFLers, like

Democrats everywhere, aren't

overly excited about what awaits

them in November: a quick trip

to the turnbuckle, followed by a

double axe-handle and a

chokeslam. Humphrey may be a

household name, not to mention

an airport terminal and a domed stadium.

But he's never been in the ring

with Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate

Warrior, Andre the Giant, or

even The Genius. If he's as

smart as they say he is, Hubert

the Third will be casting his

vote by absentee ballot.

courtesy of the Sucksters