Inside Feature

Needless to say, nothing will come of this. Hirshon is noteworthy, however, for his role in an overlooked scandalette involving Bill Clinton. Hirshon is a bartender at Fifth Colvmn, the downtown "scene" bar and the site of a January 21 Clinton-for-President fund raiser. Clinton's Little Rock minions, tipped by a Reuters feature on Hirshon's run, apparently didn't have enough real work to do - this was before Fidelitygate became a major problem - so they thought it necessary to call Fifth Colvmn's management and have Hirshon yanked from that night's shift. Why? Hirshon says Clinton's people were miffed that his "tip money" would be used to finance his campaign. (So what if it did buy a few more vanity posters?) Perhaps they fretted that Hirshon would pull a performance-art stunt. Again, possible. One time Hirshon covered himself with fudge, whipped cream, and cherries to form "a human sundae." But he says he had already promised his boss he wouldn't do anything.

At the Fifth Colvmn fund raiser, Clinton blew a saxophone to show how cool he is. That won't cut it, "dad": Cool guys don't harass hapless bartenders. The episode, while minor, summons up worries about Clinton's control-freak personality, which in turn brings to mind our last Democratic president, the blubber-lipped micromanaging fella. If Clinton makes it over the Bimbo Bump and wins the nomination, the Bushoids should exploit this. I suggest an attack ad that, a la the Michael Jackson "Black or White" video, shows Clinton "morphing" into Jimmy Carter.

LEE, Kip. (Libertarian: Redding, California) Some of the other fringe candidates have been covered in outlets as diverse as C-SPAN and the wires. Lee, a 37-year-old community college student, has the double-edged distinction of being spotlighted recently by the Fox Network show Best of the Worst as the goofiest candidate available this year. "They are considering my candidacy offbeat," explains the kindly, soft-spoken Lee. "It is a show on unusual people."

Lee wants to introduce a barter system, worries that America is schlepping toward an Armageddon that has been coming "since the downfall of Atlantis," and believes that four live space beings are being held in an underground jail at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. This, UFO buffs will know, is a spin on the conventional anti-conventional wisdom about the famed Roswell Incident, a 1947 episode in which locals in Roswell, New Mexico, a scruffy town in the southern part of the state, reported seeing a UFO crash in the desert. The story goes that the government hauled away the debris - falsely calling it a crashed weather balloon - and now has the debris (and almond-eyed ET corpses) stored in a "Blue Room" at Wright-Patterson. Some think the aliens lived and remain in captivity. Before you chuckle at Lee, consider that, in a New Yorker interview in 1988, Barry Goldwater said he asked Gen. Curtis LeMay in the mid-Sixties if he could see what was stored at Wright-Patterson. Goldwater said LeMay gave him "holy hell" and told him never to ask again.

OK, now chuckle at Lee.
GOAL: To distribute tactile campaign items. "I have campaign cards and ink pens that people can have!" he says.

MARROU, Andre. (Libertarian: Las Vegas, Nevada) Marrou, a former Alaskan state legislator, won the nomination of the U.S. Libertarian Party at its nominating convention in Chicago over Labor Day weekend. Marrou polled well in an October 6 Manchester Union Leader/New Hampshire Sunday News tally, placing second behind Bush. The poll didn't generate widespread panic, though, thanks in part to its "earlyness" and its alarmingly high crank-response content. One respondent, echoing millions of Deadheads, college freshmen, Oprah Winfrey Show audience members, and a now-cynical class of elementary students in Rocky Mount, Virginia, voted for "None of the Above" and commented, "Their'e [sic] all shits." Marrou offers the traditional Libertarian brew: abolish the IRS, get the government out of the economy, "restore the Bill of Rights." His running mate is D.C.'s Nancy Lord, who in 1990 ran for mayor there - very unsuccessfully.

GOAL: To get a million votes, beating Libertarian candidate Ed Clark's 1980 record of 920,700.

THORNTON, Curly. (Democrat: Billings, Montana) Thornton is a former boozehead who uses his rocky life story to convince voters that he's lived the issues that concern them. "Because of his drinking," one flier cries out, "Curly understands broken on skid row....Excessive medical costs forced him into bankruptcy...Curly knows the need for affordable health care." And because he has been ignored by the Democratic Party in New Hampshire and everywhere else...Curly filed a lawsuit December 5 in U.S. District Court in New York, asking the court for relief from discriminatory practices by the National Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, the State of New Hampshire, the Democrats in Florida and Texas, as well as ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox, CNN, and C-SPAN. Carl E. Person, Curly's attorney, just filed for a preliminary injunction against states with filing fees for Democratic primaries. "The candidates in the twelve states we name have to pay $21,590 in all," he says. "That's excessive."

GOAL: Equal time.

Surveying the ballot, one is struck overwhelming surge of relief about the fact that none of these people can win. Still, it would be nice if a few got wider exposure. The great thing about protest candidates - as more mainstream alternative players like Pat Buchanan and Jerry Brown are demonstrating - is their loose-cannon role. They can make statements forbidden to candidates who actually have a chance. This, of course, is exponentially more true for the outright fringers. For all anybody cares, they could drop their pants, rant in a helium-altered voice, and waggle stars-and-stripes-painted genitals. (Note to Russ Hirshon: That's a copyrighted idea, so don't think about using it without sending a consultancy check.) Because the outcasts lack a national nominating convention, some other set-up is needed: a Koppel-esque "TV town meeting," say, or a series of C-SPAN interviews by that channel's fine, stone-faced, monotoned workhorse, Brian Lamb. ("Kip Lee, for the benefit of viewers who haven't heard it before, explain your theory that the Earth is hollow, and that inside it dwells a nightmare race of `super-cyclopses.'") This civic exercise would also serve to silence the complaining fringers who say they never get a chance to be heard. All it takes is someone with the cash to get the ball rolling. How about it, Money Men? We're looking at ten months of mundane campaigning, followed by four more years of President Library Paste. Pay for a National Fringe Forum; keep a polity from lapsing into a coma.

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