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Jewish World Review Oct. 13, 2000/ 14 Tishrei, 5761


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Consumer Reports

Sighs, lies & heaves -- ON OCT. 8, Times pundit R.W. Apple Jr. wrote a piece declaring that George Bush hasn't a prayer of carrying Pennsylvania, without even mentioning the fact that Rick Santorum, the incumbent GOP senator who's more conservative than his party's presidential nominee, is now holding steady with a double-digit poll lead over challenger Ron Klink.

Apple writes: "Mr. Bush faces a steep uphill fight here. One respected poll shows him 12 percentage points behind, and another puts him 4 back. Most professionals sense that the real margin must be in between." Could be, but would it be asking too much for Apple to name that "respected" poll, so readers could judge for themselves?

Similarly, on Oct. 7 in the Times, Katharine Q. Seelye writes a misleading opener to her article "Gore Campaign Sees Florida as Ripe for the Picking." We'll leave alone the GOP's contention that Bush is almost out of the woods-finally, Brother Jeb-in that state, feeling increasingly confident they'll capture the 25 essential electoral votes.

Seelye, on cue from Gore goofballs like press secretary Chris Lehane, who said on Sunday that Bush "thus far, has not met the Quayle standard," isn't doing her homework. She writes: "The 'magic place' that Vice President Al Gore was talking about today was Walt Disney world, but in political terms, it could easily have been the state of Florida, which is becoming increasingly central to a strategy that his campaign believes could give him a landslide victory in November."

Landslide? What, is this the election of 1996? I think it's 50-50 right now between Bush and Gore, but there ain't no landslide-Electoral College or popular vote-in sight. Like Apple, Seelye cites "polls," but doesn't name which ones. For all I know, she relies on Newsweek's numbers.

I did get a kick out of a Times full-page ad for its website in the Oct. 16 New York, which featured a large three-word headline: "Mind Altering Substance." Truth, in such a precious commodity at the elite media's newspaper of record, does exist after all. And, I must admit, I found a splendid column by Clyde Haberman in the Oct. 4 Times, ridiculing the notion, still dreamily invoked by nostalgists like Jack Newfield, Jim Brady and Pete Hamill, of a "Subway Series." After pointing out that a mere 25 percent of Shea and Yankee Stadiums' patrons arrive at the parks via mass transit, Haberman comes up with the following gem, perhaps the smartest comment I've read in the Times all year.

He wrote: "Consider this example of local fandom. At Shea Stadium last week, a man was charged with throwing a bottle at John Rocker, the pitcher with the famously big mouth. Accompanying this fellow, and also charged in the incident, was a friend, Brian C. Peterson. Mr. Peterson, you will recall, is that fine young man who did prison time for manslaughter after dumping his newborn son in a trash bin. What, the comedian Chris Rock said the other night, are we supposed to think about a guy who can't forgive John Rocker for saying stupid stuff but has no problem hanging out with a baby-killer?"

Finally, a word on wildly fluctuating polls this past week. It says something that when Gore said his uncle was gassed in WWI that reporters scurried to the Internet to find out if that claim was actually true. What else accounts for the turnaround (which, admittedly, may prove fleeting)?

1. Voters realize that Gore is an untrustworthy jerk.

2. Dick Cheney clobbered yes-man Joe Lieberman in their debate last Thursday night. Cheney acted like a real partner to Bush; Lieberman was whiny and tinny, and spent most of his time thanking Gore for the opportunity to run on a national ticket.

3. The comfort level with Bush has increased.

4. The current instability of the financial markets isn't favorable to Gore.

JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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