The Old Switcheroo 3.9

These days, with presidents selling pardons and fugitive money-launderers sitting on senators' fundraising committees, the political peccadilloes committed north of our border seem almost cute. Rahim Jaffer, an MP from Edmonton, has been demoted in the ranks of Canada's right-wing Alliance Party for his part in a hoax pulled over on Vancouver radio station CKNW. It seems that the man speaking in a phone interview with the station was not Jaffer, but his executive assistant, Matthew Johnston, impersonating his boss.

Astonishingly, at least one listener was paying attention and alerted the station to the deception. At first, reports the Globe and Mail, Jaffer maintained that he had done the interview himself. A few days later, however, under increasing pressure, he copped to covering up the imposture. Johnston resigned, explaining that he had double-booked Jaffer and didn't want to break his commitment to the radio station.


Potemkin Proles 7.5

The human-authenticity prop is one of the honored visual clichˇs of American politics. You can't sign a bill gutting welfare or ceding big chunks of the public domain to boodlers without a backdrop of inner-city cherubs, honest toilers or strong, silent cops to ratify the deed.

Sometimes, however, the deed in question is so odious that real people can't be suckered into playing along. Thus a memo circulated by the National Association of Manufacturers, and leaked to the Washington Post, in reference to a media event orchestrated by House Speaker Dennis Hastert in support of the Bush tax cut: "The theme involves working Americans. Visually, this will involve a sea of hard hats, which our construction and contractor and building groups are working very hard to provide. But the Speaker's office was very clear in saying that they do not need people in suits. If people want to participate--AND WE DO NEED BODIES--they must be DRESSED DOWN, appear to be REAL WORKER types, etc. We plan to have hard hats for people to wear."


Tory Love Affair 5.6

There is a point where political polling yields too much information. In February, the


Virgin Group conducted an Internet survey of British college students to see whom they found more sexually desirable, Prime Minister Tony Blair or Conservative Party leader William Hague. It turns out the ladies love the balding, pug-faced Tory, preferring him by a landslide 61 percent to 39 percent. More than 70 percent of the survey's heterosexual male respondents said they'd sooner knock boots with Hague's wife, Ffion, than have a go with Cherie Blair. Meanwhile, gay men preferred Blair four-to-one. And Home Secretary Mo Mowlam, who would sweat out a beauty contest with Robert Bork, was easily trounced by her Conservative shadow minister.

The results of the poll may have set off a round of high-fiving at Conservative Party headquarters, but do they mean anything? The Tories seem to think so. "This is further evidence that William Hague is truly in touch with the British people," a party spokesman told the Sunday Telegraph.

Uh-huh. The poll apparently did not query respondents as to which candidate is more likely to make them sleep on the wet spot.


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