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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


Unnamed Sources

It's been a tough week for George W. "Dur-hey" Bush, governor of Texas and heirhead apparent to the White House. He's been bustling hither and yon, trying desperately to demonstrate his intellectual chops - no mean feat for a man who takes public pride in his antipathy to all that egghead stuff.

As you recall, it all began last week after Dur-hey - in one of his extremely rare non-scripted encounters with the press - blew his gubernatorial gasket when a reporter asked him if he could name the leaders of four countries recently in the news: the nuclear powers of India (the world's largest democracy) and coup-troubled Pakistan; the always-dangerous flashpoint of Taiwan; and an obscure little backwater of no importance whatsoever called Chechnya.

Apparently, Dur had never heard of Chechnya - which is of no great moment, of course, since Chechnya will have been wiped off the face of the earth by the time Dur gets to the Oval Office - although he did give some indication of having heard of the two subcontinental powers. While it's true he had no idea who the leader of India was, he did know that a military strongman had seized control of Pakistan - a development of which he heartily approved. "The new Pakistani general, he's just been elected - not elected, this guy took over the office," Dur said. "It appears this guy is going to bring stability to the country, and I think that's good news." (To his credit, Dur did happen to know that the leader of Taiwan was a guy named "Lee. Yeah, Lee.")

Dur's campaign team went into spin overdrive following the encounter - which came a day after the New Yorker published Dur's academic record at Yale: a low C average, with near-failing grades in such presidentially unimportant subjects as American politics, economics and international relations. The campaign's press director first defended Dur's dearth of knowledge by proudly proclaiming that none of his top advisers could have named the four leaders in question.

Then they said the American people didn't want a president who "memorized the names of hundreds of leaders" (or even four, apparently) ... "they want a man of vision." Dur himself went on television to decry the heinous practice of "gotcha journalism" (i.e., asking presidential contenders straightforward questions about their knowledge of foreign affairs), and to deny that he was as dumb as the proverbial post.

By week's end, he was reduced to the pitiful expedient of strolling around the press contingent with a copy of a Theodore Roosevelt biography under his arm - which was apparently the first time he'd ever been seen with a piece of reading matter in his hands, except perhaps for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. "He's really into history, reads about it all the time," his minions dutifully told the press.

And it's true, you know - in fact, the next book on Dur's prodigious reading list is yet another weighty historical tome: "Mr. Potato Head: The Life and Times of J. Danforth Quayle."

Bill of Sale

But while the American political landscape may be dominated by feckless frat boys, thank God there is at least one candidate of democratic depth and moral rectitude out there. We speak, of course, of that man of the people, champion of the little guy and all-around son of the soil, former Senator Bill Bradley.

Bradley has astonished the admittedly somewhat easily astonished punditry of the American press by mounting a "credible challenge" to Vice President Al Gore in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. The pundits are agog that Bradley - who has merely been a national celebrity for more than 30 years, from his days as a champion pro-basketball player in New York City to his long tenure in the Senate - has done well against Gore, a figure of only modest popularity in his own party, and inextricably linked to a scandal-ridden president who is intensely loathed by many of his Democratic compatriots.

Anyway, there has been much throwing about of brains on the subject of Bradley's rise (to a position far behind Gore in national polls, but still).

The mediacracy especially like the contrast of Bradley - the "maverick," the "outsider," the "reformer" - with Gore, the "dull," "stiff," "puppet of the establishment." Bradley, who left the Senate three years ago, now humbly describes himself as a "struggling small-businessman" in touch with the "concerns of working people."

But as The Boston Globe reports this week, Bradley's "struggles" may have been a tad on the metaphorical side. In fact, ole Dollar Bill "struggled" his way to some $2.7 million in speaking fees in the past two years, plus another hefty half million in "consulting fees" from major financial firms.

After leaving his Senate sinecure, Bradley has kept in touch with the concerns of working folk by giving hour-long talks - at $30,000 a pop - to such working-class organizations as Key Corp. Bank, First Union Capital Markets, HealthPartners, Barclays Global Investors and the Professional Liability Underwriting Organization. He pulled in his consulting fees from socialist rabble-rousers like J.P. Morgan Bank and Morgan Guaranty.

He has also shown a positively Bush-league propensity for fund-raising, raking in millions from those concerned working people on Wall Street. While nobly eschewing the tainted money of political-action committees, Bradley has led all candidates in gobbling up so-called "bundled contributions" - huge wads of individual gifts garnered (if not strong-armed) from within a corporation. These have included $200,000 from a single investment firm - or 40 times more than he could have legally received from that same firm's PAC.

To be sure, some of the same firms have sent bundles of joy to Dur Bush as well. (Ah, yes, the glories of a one-party state!) And even that old bore Gore has gotten a little taste. But Bradley's lapping-up of corporate largess has yet to dim his "maverick" luster.

Next: "Struggling small-business man" Boris Berezovsky launches a bid for the Russian presidency: "We must clean up insider politics!"