Until last week, the George W. Bush campaign had been nearly flawless. But then the dream campaign, credited to a triumvirate of longtime Bush advisers known as the Iron Triangle, was forced to move quickly to correct its first mistake. The quietly managed dismissal of spokesman David Beckwith demonstrated precisely how the threesome got its name.
Political adviser Karl Rove, campaign administrator Joe Allbaugh and communications director Karen Hughes have been with "W" since his first gubernatorial run in 1993. Beckwith hired on barely a month ago, moving down to Austin at the campaign's insistence. But the former journalist and onetime spokesman for Dan Quayle soon got too cozy with reporters for the control-conscious Triangle. First, Beckwith seemed to admit to The Washington Post that the campaign had "low-balled" the amount of money it had raised, to make numbers released later appear higher. Then, last week, he jokingly dismissed the importance of next month's Iowa straw poll--a contest Bush has spent heavily to win. But insiders say Beckwith's background comments had already hurt him. "We were always having to say, 'Wait a minute, that's not our position'," says a top Bush insider. Bush never spoke to Beckwith about his departure; it was Hughes, backed by Rove and Allbaugh, who arranged for him to go.CAMPAIGN 2000It Takes a Checkbook...
You can judge a man by the company he keeps, and a candidate, presumably, by the dollars he attracts. A sampling of profile-defining contributors to top White House candidates, released last week by the Federal Election Commission:
Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Kevin Costner, James Taylor, Robert De Niro, David Geffen, Terrell Davis, Steven Tisch
James Barksdale, Ernest Gallo, Hugh McColl Jr., Carl Lindner, Troy Aikman, Michael Dell, Jackson Stephens, Chuck Norris, Barbara Bush
Judy Blume, Alice Cooper, Barry Levinson, Joe Garagiola, Peter Ueberroth, Jack Nicholson, Ed Koch, Ted Leonsis
Boris Yeltsin will not be summering in the Swiss Alps this year, and the same probably goes for a host of Kremlin officials. Last week Swiss law-enforcement authorities, apparently at the behest of their counterparts in Moscow, opened an investigation into alleged money laundering, through Swiss bank accounts, by Kremlin aide Pavel Borodin, his wife and 22 other Russians, many of whom are said to be high-ranking government officials. The Russian press has speculated that the investigation may ultimately draw in Yeltsin's influential daughter Tatyana Dyachenko. But in Geneva last week a spokesman for the Swiss prosecutor said Yeltsin's family was "not yet" part of the investigation. Borodin denounced the inquiry as "politically motivated," and said that neither he nor his wife has any Swiss bank accounts.MEDIATalk Talk
How quickly does the Net move? Last Friday journalist Michael Colton posted an elaborate Web parody of the forthcoming magazine Talk, which is owned by Miramax and helmed by former New Yorker editor Tina Brown. Within hours, the site's URL had ricocheted about in countless e-mails, and the Drudge Report had excerpted the text. Miramax lawyers then demanded it be shut down for trademark infringement. But as soon as Brown and publisher Ron Galotti saw the site, they called off the lawyers. Said a Talk publicist of Colton's creation, "Tina and Ron loved it."WILDLIFEIn Vietnam, a Shot in the Dark
The Javan rhino of Vietnam has acquired the status of Bigfoot: many rumors but no recorded sightings. But after photographer Mike Baltzer set up a laser-beam triggered camera at a salt lick in southern Vietnam, he got the shot: the rhino broke the infrared beam and the shutter tripped. The result is the first-ever photo of the world's most endangered animal. Based on footprints and other evidence, World Wildlife Fund scientists estimate there are fewer than 10 Javan rhinos in Vietnam. Soon enough, the photo may be captioned, "R.I.P."DETECTIONA Parent's New Best Friend
Teens, next time mom says she's giving your room a sweep, pay attention. Next month, a Saginaw, Mich., dog-training firm will begin leasing drug-sniffing teams to parents who suspect hemp, not hormones, is making Johnny moody. Ron Michalski, owner of Elite K9 Command Dogs, got the idea when his dog Kane, set loose at a worried mom's request, found pot in a car at a family picnic. For $300, Michalski will search only houses occupied by minors or cars they drive, and only after discussing with parents if snooping is the best approach. Response has been so positive, says Michalski, that he may franchise the idea.TOTAL ECLIPSEFly Me to the Moon Shadow
The last total eclipse of the millennium on Aug. 11 gives Europeans--who'll see it best--a chance to showcase the state of sun worship at the end of the century. A Peri peek:
Druids Thousands will descend on Cornwall, the umbra's first landfall, to party, erect Stonehenge-like rocks. Among the revelers: hippie pied piper Ken Kesey aboard his revived magic bus.
'Global Woodstock' In the wildflower and hemp groves of remote Ozora, Hungary will host a weeklong pop-music festival. In case of cloud cover, a MiG-29 jet fitted with a camera will beam down TV images.
Heavenly Voice Take the Orient Express from Paris to hear soprano Jessye Norman welcome the sun's return at Rheims Cathedral
Twin Peaks In Romania, Luciano Pavarotti will sing; the best viewing and most chilling midday gloom will occur near mystical Kogaion Peak in Transylvania.
Camp Out Some U.S. museums will open all night for NASA's Web cast. San Francisco's Exploratorium, will offer live Web chat with astronomers on-scene in Amasya, Turkey.
Sunless Sea A flotilla of cruise ships will huddle on the Black Sea. From the deck of the Royal Olympic Countess, NASA scientists will send up a live Web feed (www.eclipse99.nasa.gov).