The Redundant-Component Campaign

Vote for Gore, vote for Bush -- what's the difference?

As for Clay, let's thank the gods that that race is over. What a mess, on both sides: Clay won the election, with 61 percent of the vote to Charlie Dooley's 27 percent. The race featured all manner of vitriol, with former state Rep. Fran Brady taking -- and passing, for what it's worth -- a polygraph test in an effort to verify the assertion that Clay cussed him out in Jefferson City when Brady said he was backing Dooley. The words uttered, Brady maintains, were something like "motherfuck this" and "motherfuck that." Sounds like a campaign slogan: "If elected, I'll ..."

Then Clay's camp sued Dooley, alleging the illegal formation of a soft-money slush fund. Clay backers moaned about the white folks behind Dooley, specifically mentioning campaign manager Lee Brotherton. Did anyone check out the pigmentation on Clay's "media contact," Steve Engelhardt? The best commercial, from a perverse perspective, was the Clay ad aired during Lizz Brown's show on WGNU-AM. It featured the one, the only, the Rev. Cleo Willis speaking in support of Clay, and the ad was paid for by Laidlaw Transportation, the school-bus company. Clay made much of his role in the school-desegregation settlement, often known less charitably as "busing."

ONLY 201 DAYS UNTIL THE MAYORAL PRIMARY:The Post-Dispatch traveled all the way to Pasadena, Calif., to learn that former Mayor Vince Schoemehl has decided against running for mayor in the March 2001 primary. Seems he wants to devote his time to the passage of the Missouri public-campaign-finance proposal. The former mayor admits that some cogs in the old Schoemehl money machine are already spitting out cash to other candidates. Meanwhile, on the editorial page of the P-D, an odd piece titled "Portrait of a Successful Mayor" appeared, begging for a mayor who is a "tireless, energetic and dynamic leader." Stating that leadership is part "salesmanship and cheerleading," the editorial says the next mayor needs "to be the visible master of ceremonies at the area's festivities and feel-good celebrations." Who the hell is this talking about? Was it a love letter to Schoemehl? Does the P-Dwant Freeman Bosley Jr. back? Do they want current Room 200 occupant Clarence Harmon to work longer hours and appear more peppy? Or do they want a different 'tude from the challenger, Aldermanic President Francis Slay, who, admittedly, is a hard worker and thorough but doesn't exactly light up a room?

FLOTSAM AND JETSAM:Apparently Rush Limbaugh can make time stand still. Gentry Trotter, who admits to always having been a Republican, was helping out Lacy Clay on primary night, pro bono, but he couldn't tell what time it was. Trotter says that during Limbaugh's recent charity appearance at the Ritz-Carlton, he shook hands with Limbaugh, and that at that moment, Trotter's English-made Simon Carter watch ceased to work. Trotter tried replacing the battery of the $550 watch, purchased from Bergdorf-Goodman in New York City, but that wasn't the problem. Trotter says that during his brief moment of face time with Rush, he tried to convince him to show respect for the office of the president by using terms like "Mr. President" and "President Clinton." Oh, that'll work.... A taped interview with Mayor Harmon is scheduled to air at 7 p.m. Friday on KDHX (88.1 FM). The show, called The Wire, is hosted by Thomas Crone and produced by Steve Smith. Aldermanic President Slay appeared previously on the program. Can't wait to hear Bill Haas.... Thanks to the attentive reader of "Short Cuts" who called in with this: Whoever thought up that billboard on I-44, the one about getting rid of your lemon in the Post classifieds, didn't think the concept all the way through. Is the daily paper of record soliciting ads from people selling defective equipment? So much for truth in advertising.

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