"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 5 November 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CLIV



There were so many reasons to be

happy about Tuesday's election

results - the approval of

medical marijuana ballot

measures by three new states,

the prospect of never again

seeing Al D'Amato's face or

hearing Lauch Faircloth's

unwieldy name, the fact that

both D'Amato and Faircloth were

picked to win in ABC's

now-infamous election

soothsaying - that we almost

missed the day's most enjoyable

spectacle: seeing CNN

correspondent Jeanne Meserve

wrinkle her nose while trying to

explain Jesse "The Body"

Ventura's surprise pile-driving

victory in the Minnesota

governor's race. The Gopher

State's own WWF legend and

former Navy SEAL benefited,

Meserve explained, from support

by "male, younger ... less

educated voters." Of course,

regular readers of Hit and Run

weren't surprised. Indeed, while

our projection of a Ventura

victory back in September

probably won't earn us those

talking-head jobs we've been

coveting these many years, we'd

like the record to show that

Suck's election predictions

appear to be more accurate than

Peter Jennings'.



There's nothing like a proposed

ban on cockfighting to bring out

the senile loon in all of us.

However, our favorite ballot

initiative of the week was

neither Arizona's nor Missouri's

rooster protection act but

California's Proposition 6,

which sought to outlaw the

possession, transfer, or receipt

of horses for slaughter for

human consumption. (Squeezing

Trigger for dog food is still

OK.) The initiative enjoyed

support from The Horse

Whisperer himself, and if Robert

Redford's involvement in the

campaign surprised his fellow

humans, it was long expected by

the horses, who, it turns out,

were the only viewers of

Redford's last movie. Against

that kind of star power, the

anti-6 campaign, launched by an

organization called Just Say

NEIGH, never really stood a

chance. California horses can

now lead full and productive

lives, free from the fear of

being eaten by vengeful

Christopher Reeve types.

California stars have similar

leeway, as Rob "Meathead" Reiner

showed by throwing his weight

behind a statewide cigarette-tax

proposal. We're reaching a

crisis point in the West.

California's abundance of

confusing ballot initiatives

combined with its surfeit of

washed-up, underemployed stars

is creating a brutal,

Morton's-centered rule by fiat.

Even the Golden State is only

big enough for one horse

whisperer - and apparently too

small for any horse eaters.



The New York Times fussbudget

William Safire has declared this

week's Thomas Jefferson

bombshell a Cochran-esque DNA

conspiracy designed to

sexonerate Bill Clinton.

Intentional or not, the news

does recall a sly dig President

Reagan made against candidate

Clinton before shuffling off to

his earthly shadow world.

"You're no Thomas Jefferson,"

the Gipper declared in 1992.

That line now has some

unintentional resonance. After

all, which would be more

defensible on Judgment Day:

spouting crabby racist theorems

while making slaves of your own

children or fumbling toward an

absurd orgasm while holding a

boring national conversation on

race? Sure, Clinton's straining

efforts to transfer a measly

13.1 percent of the West Bank

suggest that the Louisiana

Purchase would have been beyond

his powers, but at least he

hasn't bored the nation with

ingeniously pointless household

inventions. And in the field of

movie legacies, the one issue

that really matters, the two

presidents are neck and neck.

While Clinton endured the

ignominy of being portrayed by

John Travolta in the civic bore

Primary Colors, Jefferson's

reputation was sullied by

toadlike lummox Nick Nolte in

the endless Jefferson in Paris.

But the Founding Father has one

last card up his ruffled sleeve.

In the original play and movie

versions of 1776, Jefferson was

played by Ken Howard, the

lovable hothead who went on to

help pay off America's poisonous

racial debt by setting inner-

city kids straight on

television's The White Shadow.

At the moment, it seems that

Jefferson still has the edge.

But if Clinton puts in any more

great performances on Black

Entertainment TV, we may need a

new face for Mount Rushmore.



Let's face it: Suck has always

been the online equivalent of

The New Yorker: erudite,

self-regarding, compulsively

star-humping, appealing to just

about anybody except that

legendary cadre of little old

ladies in Dubuque. Yet somehow,

while the besieged behemoth of

43rd Street continues to

generate buzz and career-making

book deals, we remain typecast

as the Tim Kazurinskys of the

Web, preening to be noticed by a

publishing elite that considers

us about as noteworthy as

Zwieback. If Tuesday's Suck

daily had some of the

delightfully droll qualities of

a Shouts and Murmurs piece from

The New Yorker, that's because

it spent a few days in the

legendary magazine's editorial

loop before we hijacked it for

our own modest purposes. The

deep-cover Suckster who penned

the piece has produced volumes

of Tilly-worthy prose over the

years but had never collected

anything from The New Yorker

except Xerox-generated rejection

letters. That is until last

week, when our anonymous scribe

crashed the glass ceiling by

submitting an article under the

alias of one of the magazine's

superstar writers. Sure enough,

we can now close the book on

everyone's worst suspicion about

the New York publishing scene:

It's the byline, stupid. When

the piece was sent to The New

Yorker's clunky new email system

under the alias

bruce_mccall@cheerful.com, it

received not the usual terse and

tardy thanks-but-no-thanks but a

speedy, gushing acceptance from

Shouts and Murmurs editor Susan

Morrison. (An invitation to

lunch with Steve Martin only

served to gild the lily.) We

were tempted to shepherd this

prank through to publication, if

only to observe whether the real

Bruce McCall would notice the

unfamiliar article or merely

accept the extra paycheck as a

bonus for years of yeoman

service. But with the hoax

complete, and The New Yorker's

legal department on alert, the

writer cut bait and made for a

safe harbor. After all, such

hi-jinks deserve neither to go

unpublished nor unpunished. Of

course, we're happy to have such

stellar writing in our own

pages, but we can't help feeling

a little depressed at the degree

to which a famous byline rates

higher than the spew of words

attached to it. It's just not

fair that dustpans like Jon

Stewart dine out at Cafe des

Artistes on Si's dime, while

Suck's eager-but-obscure

commentary brigade appears doomed

to a life of covering school

board meetings for the local

Green Leaf. But if stealing the

identities of famous writers

hasn't helped us sneak into The

New Yorker's Augean stable of

literary stallions, we remain

hopeful that it might add some

brio to our own humble rag.

courtesy of Not David Remnick

[Purchase the Suck Book here]