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COLORFUL METAPHORS, politics division: Of Bill Clinton's...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

COLORFUL METAPHORS, politics division: Of Bill Clinton's abrupt shift to the center on the balanced budget issue, Rutgers University political scientist Ross K. Baker said:

"The ship has just deserted the sinking rats."

And Rep. Pat Schroeder, D-Colo., said: "Does [Clinton] want to divorce us? Does he thinks he is better off in Newt's hands?"

On Sen. Bob Dole's handling of the Dr. Henry Foster nomination, Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal said: "Dole came in and cut [Sen. Phil Gramm] right off at the pass."

And Michael Barone of U.S. News & World Report said: "I think [Dole] has shown an old dog can learn new tricks."

And Democratic consultant Bob Shrum said: "It was a kind of an Aztec exercise. Gramm and Dole rushed up the pyramid together to see who could drag Foster up there fastest and pull his heart out."

Speaking of Senator Gramm's presidential campaign, the Arizona Republic reported: "Most of Arizona's top Republicans have hitched their wagons to a falling star, and if it hits the ground, it won't be pretty for those with the most to lose. All indications are that [Gramm's] well-funded campaign is losing altitude."

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ALL THAT glitters sometimes costs even more than gold. Take the troubled capitol dome in Charleston, W.Va.

With its gold-leaf finish, this imposing dome makes for an impressive sight. The trouble is the gold is proving fleeting. A long black streak is visible. An adhesive that holds the gold to the copper dome underneath never dried properly in some places. Dirt has started to stick to it instead.

The bad news is that the new golden dome was re-finished just five years ago -- for $478,000.

The good news is that the work came with a 10-year guarantee. But warranties of that sort always seem to come with enough caveats to get the contractor out of such sticky -- or non-sticky in this case -- situations. Ask any homeowner.

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WITH COMPLETION of the sale of Harrison's Pier Five, the city hopes to change the fortunes of the struggling Inner Harbor hotel and restaurant. The new owner, Pure Five Inc., hopes the opening of the nearby Columbus Center brings patrons to the facility it didn't get in the past.

The hotel, however, is hampered by its size. With 71 rooms, it's too large to be intimate but too small to draw the convention crowds.

Pure Five lead partner Otis Warren has no experience running either a hotel or restaurant, but says he's getting the best to manage both facilities. He says Pier Five, which will soon undergo a name change, will be successful because he wants to make "a lot of money."

Wasn't that what the previous bankrupt owners had in mind?

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