What happens when Bush comes home a Loser?
             He's Coming Back
                 BY LOUIS DUBOSE       October 13, 2000:


             Gore Vidal doesn't think much of the Bushes, which is no surprise.
             And according to Vidal, neither did Richard Nixon, who once
             observed that Bush the Elder was the "sort of person you appoint
             to office" rather than the sort of person you could envision in the
             White House. But Nixon admired Barbara Bush -- because "she
             knows how to hate."

             In the lobby of the Canal Street Hotel where the Texas delegation
             was housed for the 1988 Republican National Convention,
             George W. was courting the Texas press corps. Easy and
             accessible, he locked on with those blue eyes, first-named
             reporters, and held forth in the hotel lobby for as long as anyone
             holding a tape recorder cared to stand and listen.

             The only time he showed any sign of anger was when he was
             asked about then-Gov. Ann Richards' comment about his father
             being "born with a silver foot in his mouth." The blue eyes
             narrowed as he responded to the reporter who asked the
             question. "It was mean and uncalled-for," he said. "It didn't bother
             my dad. He's lived with 'Doonesbury,' so he's used to that. But it
             hurt my mother." Gov. Bush talks like his father, who was as
             prone to malapropisms and non sequiturs, but he thinks like his
             mother -- which is a way of saying that he believes grudges should
             be transgenerational and involve corruption of blood and children
             avenging the wrongs visited on their parents.

             In 1988 in New Orleans, Bush wanted to get even. And that was
             just for a slight aimed at his father but felt most keenly by his
             mother. What if he loses the presidency? I think we all know
             what. If George W. Bush loses the election next month, he will
             come back to Austin looking to settle some scores -- Big Time.
             And anyone who thinks the Texas governorship is a weak office is
             going to learn a little something about the exercise of power by the
             master -- not George W. Bush, but his chief strategist Karl Rove.

             They're keeping lists. Of every insult, no matter how small. Of
             every criticism, no matter how fair. Of every news clip. Of every
             joke, no matter how innocent. This reporter speaks from some
             experience concerning Rove and lists. In April of last year I was a
             panelist in Boulder, Colorado -- at the Conference on World
             Affairs, a wonderful liberal gabfest that longtime participant Roger
             Ebert refers to as "the leisure of the theory class." Having
             co-written with Molly Ivins a book on Bush, I was called upon to
             talk about Bush's record in Texas.

             On one panel of political reporters, Fox News reporter Jonathan
             Broder talked about the role of political consultants in the electoral
             process. He referred to Mark McKinnon, who had made the
             switch from Ann Richards to George Bush without blushing.
             Broder lamented for the day when loyalty to party, candidate, and
             ideology meant something. He spoke with real insight on the role
             of politician consultants in today's elections. But in his biographical
             sketch of McKinnon, Broder got one minor detail wrong.
             After the panel discussion ended, we were approached by a small,
             utterly charming woman who pointed out Broder's error.
             "I'm Mark's mother," she said.

             McKinnon had graduated from high school in nearby Denver, so
             when it was my turn to speak on a later panel -- about Rove -- I
             recalled that he had lived in Utah, which at the moment didn't seem
             too far away. To engage the crowd, I related what had happened
             at the previous panel, introduced a gracious Mrs. McKinnon, and
             said that I was going to speak about Rove. "Before I start," I said,
             "I would like to know if Karl Rove's sister or wife is in the
             audience." It wasn't rip-roaringly funny, but it was at least amusing,
             and when the scattered laughter ended, I talked about Rove.

             A week later, in my office in Austin, I received a one-sentence
             handwritten note.


             Not a sister or a wife, but my aunt, armed with a tape recorder.

             It was from Rove.

             "Isn't that funny," I thought. "Or is it?" I reconsidered. In the
             Sicilian and Calabrese neighborhood where I grew up in South
             Philadelphia, an offending party was sent a half-dozen dead fish
             wrapped in newspaper -- a warning that, while edible, wasn't
             nearly so easy to file as a brief personal note.

             My point: They're keeping score.

             So who gets the red mullet when Bush comes home a loser?

             Elliott Naishtat, for one. The only Jewish New Yorker ever
             elected to the Texas Legislature, Naishtat was probably already
             "sleeping with the fishes" at the end of the last legislative session,
             when Bush legislative aide Terral Smith reportedly was lobbying
             Texas Monthly editor Paul Burka to include Naishtat on the
             Monthly's "Ten Worst" list. Smith desperately wanted Naishtat to
             help pass a package of draconian welfare reform provisions.
             According to Rep. Glen Maxey, D-Austin, Smith openly said that
             the governor had to have welfare reform "so that Pat Buchanan
             wouldn't be able to beat him up in the Republican primaries." (At
             the time, they didn't have a clue about John McCain.) But as chair
             of the House committee hearing Bush's 1999 welfare reform
             measures, Naishtat held the line on the governor's punitive welfare
             proposals, and the entire welfare reform package collapsed.

             One evening, while Naishtat left the Capitol in the company of
             friends from New York, Bush slipped up behind him and put him
             in a playful headlock -- as state troopers stood by and laughed
             and the New Yorkers worried that maybe this really was Texas.
             Come January, when the Legislature convenes, the headlock won't
             be playful. To make matters worse, Naishtat has been one of very
             few Democrats who has talked to the press -- including
             "major-league asshole" Adam Clymer of The New York Times.
             Next year, Naishtat, one of the most prolific bill-mills in the House,
             might need a chiropractor for his neck and a surrogate to carry his
             legislation. He also might suddenly find that he has a well-funded
             Republican opponent.

             Who else?

             When the election returns come in and Bush is making his
             concession speech, Maxey will be filing a pro se appeal for
             clemency with the Board of Pardons and Paroles. And he'll get the
             same response as every death row inmate except Roy Criner and
             Henry Lee Lucas, who at least had evidence to prove their
             innocence. Maxey has been one of Bush's more vocal critics,
             which is appropriate because he is Bush's state rep.

             Not only was Maxey dissing the governor in the public prints, he
             also busted Bush during the last session, when (with Speaker Pete
             Laney's quiet backing) he forced Bush to accept an expanded
             version of the federal/state Children's Health Insurance Program
             (CHIP). Bush wanted to offer the low-cost insurance to only
             300,000 of the state's uninsured children. Maxey refused to be
             moved off the 500,000 number. He won, and late in the session
             Bush walked out onto the floor to congratulate him.

             Then the governor tossed off what Maxey interpreted as an
             anti-gay line: "I value you as a person, and I value you as a human
             being, and I want you to know, Glen, that what I say publicly
             about gay people doesn't pertain to you." The governor's press
             office later denied that he ever said such a thing, but Maxey turned
             immediately to a group of reporters standing by and offered up the
             governor's quote -- asking them not to print it until after the veto
             deadline had passed. Bush and Smith will pay careful attention to
             the veto deadline next session -- at least as it relates to Maxey's
             bills. And if Bush has to return to Texas and live in the 51st
             District, look for Rove to do everything he can to see to it that the
             governor has straight representation.

             Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, also gets close scrutiny next
             session. Bush probably knows it was Coleman who was talking
             with the White House in 1997, when Bush was trying to cut a
             $2-3 billion deal with Lockheed Martin, EDS, or IBM to
             administer the state's welfare system. Coleman was the
             Legislature's point person at the White House, explaining to the
             Clinton administration that this was both bad public policy and bad
             politics, which would hurt the poor in Texas while allowing Bush to
             run for president saying "I privatized welfare in Texas." Despite
             talking Texas tough to Health and Human Services secretary
             Donna Shalala ("You promised an answer last Monday. In my
             state, we take people for their word"), Bush was unable to get the
             federal waiver he needed for his privatization scheme.

             Coleman has also been one of two or three House Democrats
             who have talked to the national press about Bush's shortcomings,
             both to the Times' major-league asshole and to minor-league
             assholes at The Austin Chronicle and The Houston Chronicle.
             In January, the brainy Houstonian who is a star in the House Black
             Caucus gets his -- Big Time.

             While it reads like a Don Rickles' joke -- "a Jew, a gay guy, and a
             black guy walk into the governor's office down in Texas" -- what
             happens to these Democratic state reps when Bush comes home a
             loser might make Rickles' humor seem genteel.

             It's hard to find anyone in the Texas Senate with enough courage
             to incur Bush's wrath. Only Mario Gallegos, D-Galena Park, has
             dared take Bush on, by questioning the size of his projected
             surplus on the eve of the Republican convention in Philadelphia.
             As a senator who has spoken to the national press at a critical
             moment, Gallegos might have a problem. El Paso Democrat Eliot
             Shapleigh is an occasional critic, who seems to retreat and
             advance -- or, as they say on the border, un paso adelante, dos
             atras. By failing to be a persistent critic of Bush, he might have
             saved himself from the retribution that genuinely courageous
             legislators are certain to suffer. And Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, has
             been AWOL, too, though his inner-city constituents haven't
             exactly fared well under the Bush administration.

             Republicans won't be immune, either. Tom Pauken, the Dallas
             lawyer and fundamentalist Christian who led the Christian takeover
             of the party in 1994 and last year flirted with a Dan Quayle
             candidacy before refusing to endorse Gov. Bush, could be in
             trouble. "I'm supporting a true conservative," Pauken said. In the
             1997 session, as state chair of the Republican Party, he attacked
             Bush, warning Republican legislators "not to vote for the George
             Bush tax increase."

             In response, Rove seized the Republican Party's money and left
             Pauken with much less power. When Pauken filed in the 1999
             GOP primary as a candidate for attorney general, Rove recruited
             John Cornyn -- who defeated Pauken and Democrat Jim Mattox.
             Pauken has his law practice and his integrity intact, and it remains
             to be seen what Bush and Rove will go after when they come home.

             Warren Chisum is toast. The Democrat-turned-Republican from
             Pampa is the chair of the House Environmental Affairs Committee,
             where he did a fair job of advancing the governor's "voluntary
             compliance" bill, which allows grandfathered polluters to decide
             how they will clean up one-third of the state's toxic air emissions.
             But Chisum is a stand-up guy. He has said in public (in these
             pages) that "the governor was wrong" when he killed a tailpipe
             emission testing program in 1995. Chisum will keep his seat as
             long as he wants it, because he's gritty, honest, and drafts enough
             anti-gay legislation to keep his conservative Panhandle constituents
             happy. But that won't be good enough for Bush and Rove.

             Tommy Merritt, the Jack Nicholson look-alike from Longview,
             might have to keep his head down for a while. He crossed the line
             in the House Republican Caucus when he told the governor he
             ought to be supporting hate crimes legislation.

             Who else gets it?

             If Karl Rove has any stroke left (as a political consultant Rove
             once announced an indictment of Texas officials at a Washington
             press conference weeks before the indictments were unsealed),
             Democratic consultant George Shipley would be wise to retain legal
             counsel and shred his files. Rove probably knows the name of every
             reporter who ever called Shipley's office asking for the story on Bush.

             Shipley denies talking to the press, but a source close to his office
             said if the reporters all had shown up on one day, there would
             have been a "double line around the block." And who knows?
             Poor Mark McKinnon, who reportedly will soon receive a federal
             subpoena related to the mailing of Bush's debate prep materials to
             the Gore camp, might also get it in the end. The political buzz in
             Austin has had Rove asking for McKinnon's head at least once a
             month while Bush was leading. When Bush loses, who are you
             going to blame but the former Democrat who saw his future in
             GWB campaign media?

             There are others: The Chronicle's Robert Bryce broke the story
             of Bush's dirty dealing with the Texas Rangers, which was recently
             a Page One New York Times story and this week appears in
             Talk. Bryce also wrote about Bush's work on behalf of funeral
             industry giant SCI. Both stories have dogged Bush. Austin writer
             and radio talk show host Jim Hightower has been one of Bush's
             most vocal and constant critics, has been the subject of a political
             persecution in the past, and lives only three miles from the
             Governor's Mansion. There's even Will, the bartender at
             Mezzaluna, who loudly proclaimed Bush a big loser in his first
             debate with Gore. A lot of Republicans drink tempranillo.

             Watch out. This is going to get ugly.

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