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Bill Orton
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The wife he left: John McCain married Carol when she was a swimwear model. After a auto accident and surgery left her disabled, McCain divorced her to wed beer heiress Cindy Hensley, 18 years his junior.

POTUS Knows Best
by Bill Orton
PRINTABLE VERSION


It is the last weekend of January 2009. It's cold in Washington, but nothing like it gets is Alaska. And as the rest of the White House dozes, someone is busy at work in the Oval Office....

INT -- OVAL OFFICE: President McCains's desk. Pictures of Nixon with McCain, Mac and Cindy, a highly inappropriate shot of Palin, next to a pair of bifocals, ancient multiline dial phone and an obviously improvised large red button on a wire.

SOUND OF FEMALE VOICE GRUNTING UP POPS VP SARAH PALIN, IN A COVERALL HOLDING A WRENCH.


PALIN: "That ought'a do it, doggone it!"

(SOUND OF LOUD ENGINE REVVING AND THEN A CRASH. TODD PALIN STUMBLES INTO OVAL OFFICE)

TODD: "That baby don't perform nearly as well on grass as snow....

PALIN: "Do ya have the trap door springs? Who knows when I'd get to do this when it's ME in that chair."

(FIDGETS WITH LARGE RED BUTTON ON PRESIDENT'S DESK. APPROACHING VOICES. PRESIDENT McCAIN AND AIDE ENTER.)

AIDE: "Mr. President, a lot happens on the weekends..."

PALIN: (surprised and hiding the wrench) "Oh, uh, Mr. President... (handing wrench to Todd)

MAC: "Why if it isn't the most magnificent Vice President in the history of the nation.... I didn't know you worked on Sundays? Oh... and Todd."

AIDE: "... about the Russians, sir..."

MAC: (Turning sternly to aide) "Now listen, my friend, there's time for all of that on Monday. Cindy sent me down for my bifocals." (Back to Palin, flirtatiously.) "It's still the weekend."

PALIN: "God DID make the weekends."

MAC: (eyeing Palin) "God made some wonderful creations. "



TODD: "Well, I gotta go..." (handing wrench to aide). (QUICKLY EXITS AND SOUND OF SNOWMOBILE REVS AWAY.)

AIDE: (Confused about wrench.) "Mr. President, can I get a decision about the Russians..."

MAC: (Angrily) "You know, my friend..."

PALIN: "Oh, wait, say... I have an idea."

MAC PERKS UP AS PALIN PUTS HIS HANDS ON PRESIDENT'S SHOULDERS AND GUIDES HIM TO THE DESK.

MAC: "Oh yeh... careful on the arms, broken you know... Vietnam... I was tied up..."

PALIN: "You just sit there, Mr. President." (MOVES AIDE TO SPOT IN FRONT OF DESK. TAKES WRENCH.) "I'll take that. You stand here." (PALIN MOVES TO JOIN MAC BEHIND DESK.) "Now you just go ahead about those darn Russians."

AIDE: "Sir, tanks and troops are crossing into Kazhak territory..."

PALIN PUSHES THE RED BUTTON, OPENING A TRAP DOOR UNDERNEATH THE AIDE WHO DISAPPEARS WITH A SCREAM.

MAC: "Say..."

PALIN: "That's how we take care of problem cases in Wasilla."

MAC: "You don't suppose...?"

PALIN: (Brushing the air) "Oh, no... It just goes to Todd's repair shop... but in Juneau, we had a polar bear when they got to the end."

MAC: "Oh, Sarah.... I just... I love..."

PALIN: "Just being a maverick... But Mr. President, we can't have him coming back up here to see how it works... He can n-e-v-e-r return... That's the secret to trap door management."

MAC: "Well, anything for the nation's greatest expert on energy. I'm sure he will just find another job since the fundamentals of this economy are so strong."

PALIN: "It's very useful, this little button... Takes care of so many problems."

MAC: "I'm so glad I came down on the weekend. Wait until I tell Cindy..."

PALIN: "On no, Mr. President..." (panicked, then tracing her finger across his jaw) No, you can't tell anyone, or then it's not our secret..."

MAC: (Hypnotised) "... O-U-R secret..."

PALIN: "Oh yes, Mr. President, when you push that button, you're thinking about our secret ."

MAC: "Oh I have to try it n-o-w-!!" (PRESIDENT FUMBLES WITH DESKPHONE.) "These newfangled..." (PALIN PUSHES BUTTON.)

VOICE ON PHONE: (SURPRISED) "Mr. President?"

MAC: "That's right, and on a Sunday! Can you send in, um..."

PALIN WHISPERS INTO PRESIDENT'S EAR.

MAC: "Deputy Assistant Undersecretary Romney."

VOICE ON PHONE: "Yes, sir."

PALIN CLAPS. ROMNEY ENTERS WEARING A GREEN VISOR, SURPRISED. HE HAS A HUGE DUSTY BOUND ACCOUNTING LEDGER UNDER ONE ARM.

PALIN: "Gee, Mitt, guess they're working ya kind'a hard with this whole economy thing, huh?"

ROMNEY: (DISMISSIVE OF PALIN) "Mr. President, I didn't expect you to look at the books until tomorrow."

MAC: (Chuckling) "Oh, yes, there's a whole lot of surprises you bookkeepers never can anticipate from a couple of mavericks..."

PALIN: "Say there, Mitt, why don't you show us what you've got."

ROMNEY STANDS OVER TRAP DOOR AND SETS LEDGER DOWN ON THE PRESIDENT'S DESK.

ROMNEY: "Sir, it isn't good. Debt swap collaterals continue to freeze up the commercial paper market, meaning..."

MAC PUSHES RED BUTTON. ROMNEY DISAPPEARS. SOUND OF A REVVING SNOWMOBILE IS HEARD AMIDST YELLING. THEN SILENCE.

MAC: "Say, you don't..."

PALIN: "Mormons aren't even Christians, Mr. President."

MAC: "No more bad news on THAT economy." (SPOTTING BIFOCALS.) Oh, there's my bifocals... Say, I sure did underestimate you and your husband. I never would have thought you were on the ticket for brains."

PALIN: "Oh, Mr. President."

MAC: "Well, gotta get back upstairs. Cindy wants to show me what she just got on the American Express account."

MAC EXITS. PALIN BRINGS BUTTON TO THE EDGE OF THE DESK AND STANDS ON TRAP DOOR. SHE PUSHES BUTTON AND YOU HEAR HER YELL AND THEN THE SOUND OF TODD CATCHING HER.

PALIN: (VOICEOVER) "Hello there, Alaska Man. Have you shot any caribou lately?" (SOUND OF SNOWMOBILE REVVING.)

McCain meets her once. Hires her for the campaign.

It's good to be the king nominee.


REPRINTED FROM

RNC shells out $150K for Palin fashion

By JEANNE CUMMINGS | October 22, 2008 12:35 AM EST

The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.

According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.

The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.

The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.

The cash expenditures immediately raised questions among campaign finance experts about their legality under the Federal Election Commission's long-standing advisory opinions on using campaign cash to purchase items for personal use.

Politico asked the McCain campaign for comment, explicitly noting the $150,000 in expenses for department store shopping and makeup consultation that were incurred immediately after Palin’s announcement. Pre-September reports do not include similar costs.

Spokeswoman Maria Comella declined to answer specific questions about the expenditures, including whether it was necessary to spend that much and whether it amounted to one early investment in Palin or if shopping for the vice presidential nominee was ongoing.

“The campaign does not comment on strategic decisions regarding how financial resources available to the campaign are spent," she said.

But hours after the story was posted on Politico's website and legal issues were raised, the campaign issued a new statement:

"With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it’s remarkable that we’re spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses. It was always the intent that the clothing go to a charitable purpose after the campaign," said McCain-Palin spokesperson Tracey Schmitt

The business of primping and dressing on the campaign trail has become fraught with political risk in recent years as voters increasingly see an elite Washington out of touch with their values and lifestyles.

In 2000, Democrat Al Gore took heat for changing his clothing hues. And in 2006, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was ribbed for two hair styling sessions that cost about $3,000.

Then, there was Democrat John Edwards’ $400 hair cuts in 2007 and Republican McCain’s $520 black leather Ferragamo shoes this year.

A review of similar records for the campaign of Democrat Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee turned up no similar spending.

But all the spending by other candidates pales in comparison to the GOP outlay for the Alaska governor whose expensive, designer outfits have been the topic of fashion pages and magazines.

What hasn’t been apparent is where the clothes came from – her closet back in Wasilla or from the campaign coffers in Washington.

The answer can be found inside the RNC’s September monthly financial disclosure report under “itemized coordinated expenditures.”

It’s a report that typically records expenses for direct mail, telephone calls and advertising. Those expenses do show up, but the report also has a new category of spending: “campaign accessories.”

September payments were also made to Barney’s New York ($789.72) and Bloomingdale’s New York ($5,102.71).

Macy’s in Minneapolis, another store fortunate enough to be situated in the Twin Cities that hosted last summer’s Republican National Convention, received three separate payments totaling $9,447.71.

The entries also show a few purchases at Pacifier, a top notch baby store, and Steiniauf & Stroller Inc., suggesting $295 was spent to accommodate the littlest Palin to join the campaign trail.

An additional $4,902.45 was spent in early September at Atelier, a high-class shopping destination for men.

© 2008 Capitol News Company, LLC


Bill Orton is a writer and historian living in Long Beach, California.