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Candidates are trying to tailor the debates


HEADLINE: Bush, Gore Campaigns Spar Over Presidential Debate Format

To: Gore-Lieberman 2000

From: Bush-Cheney 2000

To clarify Governor Bush's position vis-a-vis the proposed debates: We are certainly not afraid of maximum exposure, as has been insinuated by the media. CNN's "Larry King Live" is a go with us. So is NBC's "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert.

Our choice for a third venue?

Right now we're leaning toward the Food Network.

As the governor noted in a recent campaign stop: "Food is of paramount importance to millions of Americans. They eat food, they care about food. Without food, they become cranky and lethargic and then, if enough time goes by, they, um, whatchamacallit ... die."

What better way for the two candidates to reach the American people than a spirited 60-minute face-off right between "Good Eats" and "The Iron Chef?"

To: Bush-Cheney 2000

From: Gore-Lieberman 2000

As the American people are well aware, Vice President Gore has always been pro-food. So has Sen. Lieberman. So have their wives, their families and each and every member of their campaign staffs.

But with all due respect - the Food Network?

What we propose instead: "An Evening of Policy Discussion and Strategic Initiatives at the Hollywood Bowl," moderated by the great Barbra Streisand.

With any luck, Ms. Streisand, winner of an Academy Award for her performance in the 1968 film "Funny Girl," will favor us with a song or two, including such classics as "The Way We Were" and "People."

To: Gore-Lieberman 2000

From: Bush-Cheney 2000

It is with growing amusement that we note that the party that so often lashes out against Big Oil and Big Tobacco should now be cozying up to Big Hollywood.

And this same party now boasts a presidential ticket that seems more comfortable hiding behind the skirts of washed-up liberal entertainers than getting its message out to the American people.(An Internet search reveals "the great" Ms. Streisand's last hit film to be, what? "Prince of Tides" in '91?)

To: Bush-Cheney 2000

From: Gore-Lieberman 2000

You want a piece of us? Huh? Do you?

Do not be misled by our compassionate nature - our embrace of environmental issues, minority causes, lower prescription costs for senior citizens, etc. - and the wonkish, puffy appearance of many of our staffers.

We can bust some heads, Jack, as you'll discover if you continue to provoke us.

If, however, Gov. Bush is still interested in a gentlemanly debate of the issues, the vice president has now authorized us to reply: "Anytime, anywhere, pal."

One small request: The vice president feels strongly that both candidates should wear jeans onstage.

As the vice president notes: His is the party of the people, not the powerful. And many of the people, he has observed from his limo, wear jeans. In fact, he himself has taken to wearing jeans on the campaign trail, despite vicious charges from the Republicans that this is simply to boost his faux-Populist image.

The vice president also has asked us to stress that, while he did not actually own a pair of jeans until 18 months ago, he has always embraced the "jeans lifestyle."

So has Sen. Lieberman. So have their wives, families, campaign staffs, etc.

To: Gore-Lieberman 2000

From: Bush-Cheney 2000

As you must know, Gov. Bush is trim and fit and would welcome any debate in which casual, form-fitting clothing were worn.

His only condition (and on this there will be no compromise): The candidates must wear regular-fit jeans, as opposed to relaxed-fit.

As the governor noted in a recent address: "Any man over 35 can wear relaxed-fit jeans and hide the ol' spare tire. And a man with a spare tire, a man who would let himself go to that degree, is probably not fit to occupy the, um, whatchadoodle . . . the White House."

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