'The Next Bruce Babbit'


NATURAL history tells the story of a rare insect that lays eggs in a single cocoon; the young, emerging from their shells, eat one another until, like a Democratic presidential candidate emerging after the primaries, only one of the murderous brood is left to see the light of day.

This story seemed to give little pleasure to Senator Joseph Dontknow when I related it to him over the phone last night. Senator Dontknow, a little-noticed runner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, was forced to end his campaign recently due to rumors of scandal.

Since Joe and I go way back--we ran a mail-fraud scheme together in high school--I took an opportunity to conduct a exclusive personal interview with the man one astute observer described as "the next Bruce Babbit."

ME: Senator, what went wrong?

Him: Hello?

Me: Senator, this is your old pal, Rutger Fury. I want to talk to you about your recent withdrawal from the presidential race.

Him: Fury? You weasal, if you don't cough up that $2000...

Me: Senator, I'm riding real close to deadline so I'm going to have to print everything you say verbatim.

Him: I see. Well, a number of factors contributed to my decision. One of them was the question of my crying in public.

Me: I see. Because you showed too much emotion in public, the public took you for a woosie?

Him: I am not a woosie. I have actually beaten up Abu Nidal several times, and once called Ollie North a "faggot" to his face.

Me: Were people concerned, then, that you didn't cry enough?

Him: I guess a lot of us candidates felt outclassed when Pat Schroeder came out and cried for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I think a lot of us realized that the ante had been upped. But when a reporter caught me slicing onions backstage, everyone took it wrong. Honestly, I was just going to make a hamburger.

Me: That's all well and fine, Senator, but isn't it true that the next day the Miami Herald uncovered a document which effectively denied the truth of your claim?

Him: I assume you are referring to the fingerpainting I did in Mrs. Fogbottom's fourth-grade class denouncing hamburgers.