Notes: Lots of political news this week as the campaign is about to slow while the Olympics take place over the next two weeks. First, the word "RATS" filled one frame of a Republican National Committee commercial for George W. Bush. Democrats claimed that it was a subliminal message attacking Al Gore. The Bush camp claims it doesn't know how it got there. Alex Costellano who produced the commercial likened the fuss over it to playing a Beatles album in reverse to get hidden messages. Note that "RATS" spelled backwards is "STAR." But, with all the vetting that the political commercials go through, someone involved with the ad knew that "RATS" was there.

Then Gore confidant Tom Downey mysteriously received a package from Austin. Downey is helping Gore prepare for the upcoming debates with Bush and was to play Bush's role in mock debates with Gore. The package contained documents and a video tape. Downey claims that once he realized that the materials had to do with Bush's debate preparation, he turned them over to his lawyer who in turn gave them to the FBI. Downey has decided not be involved further in debate preparations. As of this writing there is no word as to where the package came from.

Finally, a 1996 memo mysteriously got the sudden attention of federal campaign finance investigators. The document had been turned over to federal officials years ago. The memo, known as a call sheet, was a purported script for Democratic national chairman Donald L. Fowler to use in a phone conversation with Texas plaintiffs' lawyer Walter Umphrey years ago. The call sheet read: "Sorry you missed the vice president," and then, "I know" you "will give $100K when the president vetoes tort reform, but we really need it now. Please send ASAP if possible." The questionable part is the mention of the veto. You can't solicit contributions in return for a specific act (bribery). Fowler says he would never have used that language which was written on the call sheet by an aide. The money was not given at the time though Umphrey's firm later contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic party. As of today Republicans admit that no law was broken, but say it calls into question Gore's own ethics in money raising. This memo didn't re-surface at this time by accident.

Expect more of this as the election nears. 09.15.00


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