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It's a small world, after all


As hard as it is to believe, I occasionally get mail from the one or two readers who glance at this column on their way to the TV listings.

Given the sociopathic nature of these people, most of their letters quickly end up in the waste basket, although not before I show them around the office so everyone can have a good laugh.

These are trying times in the newspaper industry, and we take our entertainment where we can find it.

Yet a letter from a Mrs. A.N. Royce of Michigan stopped me in my tracks.

"Why," wrote Mrs. Royce, in the kind of angry scrawl I'm so used to seeing, "have you consistently ignored Ross Perot in your column?"

This was accompanied by copies of two magazine articles on Perot, along with a photograph of the man. The photo made Perot's head appear extremely pointy.

I'm sure it was the camera angle.

Anyway, my first thought was: ignored?!

I did not know that I have ignored Ross Perot, anymore than I have ignored Princess Grace of Monaco or Richard Petty or Brenda Vaccaro, three other people whom I have not written about.

I'll tell you who I have been ignoring: Regis Philbin. With good reason, too.

Not too long ago, I wrote a column about how my wife was crazy about Regis Philbin, and I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about.

OK, I might have called him a name, too. But nothing real bad. Nothing that any rational person would get all worked up about -- or so I thought.

Then some lawyer in Oregon with way too much free time on his hands clipped the column from his local newspaper and sent it to Regis.

And Regis, he . . . well, you're not going to believe what Regis did.

Regis read part of the column on the air -- on the air! national TV! -- as if he were deeply wounded.

Then he sneered and narrowed those beady little eyes of his and said something like: "How can a guy named Cowherd make fun of me!"

Well. Thank you very much, Mr. Philbin. And Merry Christmas to you, too.

Humiliated? You bet I was. I cried my little eyes out. It's hard enough walking around with a name like Cowherd. I don't need some big-shot talk show host who makes, I don't know, let's say $1.2 million a year, ripping me in front of a nationwide television audience.

At least not unless he's willing to slide a few thou my way. For the emotional distress he caused.

Until then, Regis Philbin does not make this column anymore. Right, right. I'm sure he's crushed.

Anyway, now that the matter of Ross Perot being ignored has been called to my attention, we really must do something about it.

Hmmm, where to start? OK. My impression of Ross Perot is that he's . . . well, he's a very small man.

Personally, I am not sure this country would be well-served by one so tiny in the Oval Office.

The desk, the chairs, the washroom next door -- all are designed for a man (or woman) of more substantial size.

It would simply not do to have the ambassador from, oh, Latvia ushered in for an audience with the president of the United States, and then, when the two are seated in adjoining wingback chairs, find that the president's feet are not touching the floor.

What kind of impression would that make? Not a very good one, I'm afraid.

Incidentally, Regis Philbin is a very small man, too.

A lot of people don't know that. They see him on "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee" -- I never watch it myself -- and think he's a person of normal size.

But he isn't. Take it from me. I saw him in Atlantic City a while back -- this was before we were feuding, when I thought he could take a joke -- and he's definitely on the smallish side.

In fact, if you ever watch the opening of his show, where he and Kathie Lee chat and sip whatever it is they sip out of those coffee mugs, notice how he sits.

Notice how he's all scrunched forward. Well, the truth is, he's sitting on these telephone books to make him appear taller. One is the Manhattan directory and the other, I think, is for Queens.

Did I mention I never watch "Regis and Kathie Lee?" I should mention that.

As for Ross Perot, he suffers from much the same . . . OK. I see exactly what's going to happen here.

People will accuse me of heightism.

People will say: "You're discriminating against Ross Perot just because he's short."

Which is ludicrous. I am not a big man myself, a little over 5-foot-9.

So I hardly see where . . . look, let's just forget about Ross Perot, OK?

I didn't want to write about him anyway.

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