Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on FNC's 'Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

Schieffer Presses Dean on Tenet Resignation, How a Hike is a Cut --9/29/2003


1. Schieffer Presses Dean on Tenet Resignation, How a Hike is a Cut
Interviewing Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean on Sunday's Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer began by pressing Dean to call for the resignation of another Bush official and Schieffer adopted liberal Democratic mathematics as he described a seven percent spending increase as a "cut." Schieffer wanted to know: "Do you now think that George Tenet, the CIA Director, ought to resign?" Later, Schieffer relayed Dick Gephardt's incongruous historic tale about 1995 when "Democrats were fighting to keep Newt Gingrich from shutting down the government," a time when Dean "supported slowing the growth of Medicare to seven percent, which would have cut $270 billion from the program."

2. Nets Showcase How Poverty Hike Victims Forced Into Soup Lines
ABC, CBS and NBC on Friday night all showcased victims to maximize the impact of how the Census Bureau reported that poverty increased in 2002. CBS and NBC at least made passing mention of the revelation on the same day that the GDP grew by a healthy 3.3 percent in the third quarter, but not ABC where reporter Betsy Stark declared: "Today, in the richest nation on Earth, one in eight Americans lives in poverty. Angela Martinez is one of them. Jobless since July with a young daughter to support, she is always struggling." Over on CBS, David Axelrod saw more soup lines ahead: "Clyde Kuemmerle runs the soup kitchen. He looks at the Census Bureau numbers that 34.6 million Americans lived in poverty in 2002 -- 1.7 million more than did the year before -- and sees a job-shedding economy continuing to deposit people on soup lines with no jobs or minimum wages."

3. FNC and MSNBC Pick Up on CyberAlert Item on Dan Rather's Caveat
You read it here first. FNC's Fox Newswatch over the weekend and MSNBC's Scarborough Country last Tuesday both picked up on a CyberAlert item about how CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather followed up a September 19 story on "crime, banditry and thuggery from carjacking and robbery to kidnapping and murder" in Iraq by offering this caveat: "A reminder that television sometimes has trouble with perspective, so you may want to note that in some areas of Iraq, things are peaceful."

4. Actor Tony Randall on Bush and Cheney: "I Hated Them!"
Actor Tony Randall, "Felix Unger" on the Odd Couple TV show, last week oddly proclaimed that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft would not be welcome at his funeral. At a press conference marking National Funeral Service Education Week, Randall, a new spokesman for the National Funeral Directors Association, imagined what might occur at his funeral: "George Bush and Richard Cheney come -- but they're not allowed in because everyone knew how much I hated them!"

5. NBC Drama Focuses on Hypocritical "Ultra-Conservative" Senator
The hypocritical behavior of an "ultra-conservative and moral Senator" will be one of the plot lines Monday night on NBC's new drama, Las Vegas, which revolves around actor James Caan as the security chief at a Las Vegas area resort/casino.


Schieffer Presses Dean on Tenet Resignation,
How a Hike is a Cut

Bob Schieffer Interviewing Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean on Sunday's Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer began by pressing Dean to call for the resignation of another Bush administration official and Schieffer adopted liberal Democratic mathematics as he described a seven percent spending increase as a "cut."

Noting how the House Intelligence Committee complained that the CIA uses old information on assessing Iraq before the war, Schieffer's first question to Dean: "Now you called this week for the resignations of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz. In light of this, do you now think that George Tenet, the CIA Director, ought to resign?"

Later, Schieffer relayed Dick Gephardt's incongruous historic tale about 1995 when "Democrats were fighting to keep Newt Gingrich from shutting down the government" and a huge spending increase was a cut: "Dick Gephardt said that when he and the Democrats were fighting to keep Newt Gingrich from shutting down the government, that you had sided with Newt Gingrich, who wanted to cut Medicare $270 billion. You said that is flat out not true. Well, Governor, I have to tell you, I've been doing some checking, and it appears that that is not false. On May 17th, 1995, several newspapers, including the newspapers in your home state of Vermont, said that you supported slowing the growth of Medicare to seven percent, which would have cut $270 billion from the program."

Yes, "slowing the growth of Medicare to seven percent" would "have cut $270 billion from the program."

Of course, Gingrich shutting down the government is how Clinton, Gephardt and the media saw it at the time, but Clinton refused to sign continuing resolutions.

Schieffer opened the September 28 Face the Nation: "I want to begin by asking you about a report that's in the Washington Post this morning. It says that the Republican chairman of the Senate [actually House] Intelligence Committee, Porter Goss, and the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Jane Harmon, have written a letter to CIA Director George Tenet. They've criticized him for using what they call 'outdated and circumstantial and fragmentary evidence.' They say there are too many uncertainties in the evidence that he presented to the White House about whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to conclude that Iraq did, in fact, have such weapons. Now you called this week for the resignations of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz. In light of this, do you now think that George Tenet, the CIA Director, ought to resign?"
Dean: "Well, I had thought that some time ago, not because of this, but because George Tenet took the heat for something that we knew very well what was going, that went on in the White House, that is, these intelligence reports now appear to have been exaggerated. George Tenet knew that and took the blame for it even though he knew that someone in the White, that he had told the White House that, and someone in the White House had made this error....
Schieffer: "So just to make this clear, you're now calling for George Tenet to resign as well as Secretary Rumsfeld?"
Dean: "I had Bob, I had done that about two or three months ago. I thought after the, after the allegations and the revelations about the false information in the President's State of the Union address that George Tenet should step aside simply because he took the fall for something he knew was not his problem. And I don't, I think loyalty can be rewarded but not obfuscation of the truth."

A bit later, Schieffer entered a parallel universe where a spending increase greater than inflation is a cut: "Let's turn to the Democratic debate this week where things also got kind of personal. There was quite a to-do in that debate when Dick Gephardt said that when he and the Democrats were fighting to keep Newt Gingrich from shutting down the government, that you had sided with Newt Gingrich, who wanted to cut Medicare $270 billion. You said that is flat out not true. Well, Governor, I have to tell you, I've been doing some checking, and it appears that that is not false. On May 17th, 1995, several newspapers, including the newspapers in your home state of Vermont, said that you supported slowing the growth of Medicare to seven percent, which would have cut $270 billion from the program. So why would you say that's not true when, in fact, it appears it was true?"
Dean: "Well, it wasn't true. What I supported was what Bill Clinton signed, which saved $200 billion out of Medicare and saved it. I'm running against the people like Dick Gephardt who I worked for in '88 when he ran for President. And I'm running against a group of people from Washington who have done the same thing for as long as they've been there, years and years and years. A third of the seniors in my state have prescription benefits. What has Dick Gephardt or John Kerry or Joe Lieberman or John Edwards done in their careers in the Senate to do that? I am not going to be compared to Newt Gingrich by my rivals. They can say anything they want about me. I did support slowing the growth of Medicare. And I think that was a good thing. It worked out well. Bill Clinton signed the bill and Medicare is still solvent because of that. And the folks in Washington didn't do one thing about it."

Nets Showcase How Poverty Hike Victims
Forced Into Soup Lines

ABC, CBS and NBC on Friday night all showcased victims to maximize the impact of how the Census Bureau reported that poverty increased in 2002. (CNN and FNC on their Friday night newscasts offered only brief headline-like items on the poverty rate.) CBS and NBC, which both led with the poverty numbers, at least made passing mention of the revelation on the same day that the GDP grew by a healthy 3.3 percent in the third quarter, but not ABC where reporter Betsy Stark declared on World News Tonight: "The ranks of the poor grew by nearly two million last year. Today, in the richest nation on Earth, one in eight Americans lives in poverty. Angela Martinez is one of them. Jobless since July with a young daughter to support, she is always struggling."

Over on the CBS Evening News, David Axelrod saw more soup lines ahead: "Clyde Kuemmerle runs the soup kitchen. He looks at the Census Bureau numbers that 34.6 million Americans lived in poverty in 2002 -- 1.7 million more than did the year before -- and sees a job-shedding economy continuing to deposit people on soup lines with no jobs or minimum wages."

NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw announced at the top of his broadcast: "Poverty is up, and income is down. That is the short and discouraging report from the federal Census Bureau tonight. The longer story is that it's the second consecutive year for rising poverty rates and falling income after years of going the other way."

Unlike NBC, ABC and CBS at least offered a brief mention of a less dire perspective, but quickly dismissed it. ABC's Stark noted how "others point out the poverty rate is still low by historical standards." But Stark undermined that thought with more inauspicious news: "There's another ominous number in today's report, and that's the 12 million Americans defined as the near poor, those living just barely above the poverty line. Altogether, that is 47 million Americans living in poverty or close to it. Pretty astonishing numbers."

CBS's Axelrod pointed out how the Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector "says the two-year poverty hike comes after a decade of decline and still leaves poverty levels at near 40-year lows." Rector proposed: "I think poverty is, although lamentable and we want to reduce poverty, poverty isn't as severe as the word suggests." Axelrod countered: "But tell that to Inola Tucker. She's 45 with four kids and works 32 hours a week as a cashier making seven bucks an hour..."

(See below for more on Rector's assessment of how well off, historically-speaking, those now in poverty live.)

And while the networks are usually quick to pounce on any sign of increasing income disparity between the rich and poor, a dynamic that animated network coverage of the Bush tax cuts, none made any reference to how the Census Bureau also revealed a reduction in the income gap as the rich lost more money than the poor. Reporter Jonathan Weisman related in his September 27 Washington Post story: "The Census reports also showed that the income gap between rich and poor declined. Median household cash income for the bottom 20 percent of Americans dropped 3 percent in 2002 from 2001, while it slid 5.1 percent for households in the top 5 percent." That article is online at: www.washingtonpost.com

Now, a full rundown of the September 26 ABC, CBS and NBC stories:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings set up ABC's story: "Another big story today on the state of the country. We learned today that the number of Americans living below the poverty line as defined by the government increased for the second year in a row: 1.7 million more people became impoverished last year, bringing the total to more than 34 million people. The increase affected blacks and whites and Latinos and all parts of the country. It is partly a result of the struggling economy. It is certainly fuel for political debate. Here's ABC's Betsy Stark."

Stark began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The ranks of the poor grew by nearly two million last year. Today, in the richest nation on Earth, one in eight Americans lives in poverty. Angela Martinez is one of them. Jobless since July with a young daughter to support, she is always struggling."
Angela Martinez: "It's really hard to find a place, and you can't get a job and get on your own life if you can't find a place to live, if you're sleeping in the streets."
Stark: "The Census Bureau defines poverty as a single person making less than $8,860, a family of four earning under $18,100. The rise in poverty comes at a time of declining government services to the poor, especially at the state level where lawmakers are struggling to close big budget gaps. Seventy-year-old Mary Davis, who lives off $7,000 a year in Social Security, relies on private charity for heat and food."
Mary Davis: "I have to go to church and get food, and thank God for that, or I wouldn't be eating."
Stark: "The report also reveals the rising toll on children: 12.1 million, or almost 17 percent of the nation's young, now live below the poverty line, 400,000 more than last year. Democrats seized on today's report as proof the Bush economic plan has failed and that his spending priorities are wrong."
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY): "We have millions of people in America that are poor, that are sick, that are not getting a decent education, that can't afford affordable housing. There's something wrong with that story."
Stark: "But others point out the poverty rate is still low by historical standards."
Jason Turner, Heritage Foundation Welfare Reform Advocate: "What we're experiencing is a temporary increase in poverty, which we always do during a recession."
Stark ominously concluded: "There's another ominous number in today's report, and that's the 12 million Americans defined as the near poor, those living just barely above the poverty line. Altogether, that is 47 million Americans living in poverty or close to it. Pretty astonishing numbers, Peter."

-- CBS Evening News. Rather led his broadcast: "Good evening. America got a new picture today of the economic health of this country and its people. The government says the economy grew in the second quarter of this year at an annual rate of 3.3 percent. That's more than twice the first quarter rate and the latest sign of possible recovery from recession. But the jobs picture remains troubling, so we also learn today that the recession, including rising unemployment, helped push 1.7 million more Americans into poverty last year for a total of 34.6 million living below the poverty line. CBS's Jim Axelrod reports on the struggle to get by."

Axelrod: "At New York's Holy Apostle Soup Kitchen, today's news is no surprise."
Axelrod to head of soup kitchen: "I tell you for the second straight year poverty numbers are up. You tell me what?"
Clyde Kuemmerle, Church of the Holy Apostles: "No surprise."
Axelrod: "Clyde Kuemmerle runs the soup kitchen. He looks at the Census Bureau numbers that 34.6 million Americans lived in poverty in 2002 -- 1.7 million more than did the year before -- and sees a job-shedding economy continuing to deposit people on soup lines with no jobs or minimum wages."
Kuemmerle: "We're seeing a lot more folks who are rent poor who are spending most of their income to pay the rent, and they don't have enough money for food and clothing."
Axelrod: "This is the common conception of poverty in America. Long lines and full tables at soup kitchens. And while the lines have been growing for the last two years, there are those studying poverty in America who say the latest Census numbers need the proper perspective."
Robert Rector, Heritage Foundation: "This is a very mild recession with very little impact on poverty."
Axelrod: "Robert Rector studies poverty at the Heritage Foundation. He says the two-year poverty hike comes after a decade of decline and still leaves poverty levels at near 40-year lows."
Rector: "I think poverty is, although lamentable and we want to reduce poverty, poverty isn't as severe as the word suggests."
Axelrod: "But tell that to Inola Tucker. She's 45 with four kids and works 32 hours a week as a cashier making seven bucks an hour."
Inola Tucker: "It's just not enough."
Axelrod: "She brings home $367 every two weeks. Her subsidized rent is $266 a month. So she hits the food pantry once a month to keep from going hungry. But she lives with a bigger fear than that."
Tucker: "I went from welfare to workfare. Yes, I have. And I don't want to go back."
Axelrod concluded: "In this economy, the choice may not be hers. Jim Axelrod, CBS News, New York."

-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw began his program: "Poverty is up, and income is down. That is the short and discouraging report from the federal Census Bureau tonight. The longer story is that it's the second consecutive year for rising poverty rates and falling income after years of going the other way. The Census Bureau said slightly more than 12 percent of the population was living in poverty last year, up from 11.7 percent.
"These are numbers for the year 2002. And they do come on a day when the economic growth numbers are in for the second quarter of this year, and they're more encouraging. The economy expanded at the rate of 3.3 percent higher than expected, fueled by consumer and defense spending. But corporate profits were off again. NBC's Ron Allen tonight on the turbulent effect of all this on many families."

Allen: "At a food pantry outside Chicago today, Mary Brash picks up groceries to feed her family of five. Their income was cut in half to about $20,000 per year when Mary's husband lost his job. Now they struggle to pay the bills and make ends meet."
Mary Brash: "I've got people calling every five minutes, looking for their money. And I say, 'Well, you know what? I can't do, I can't give you what I don't have.'"
Allen: "Millions of Americans were worse off last year, like the Brashes, according to today's Census Bureau report. More than 34 million Americans now live below the poverty line. That's an additional 1.7 million who saw their income drop to less than $18,392 for a family of four. And even Americans not living in poverty are earning less. Median household income dropped to around $42,000 per year, a decline of 1.1 percent. Why? Economists blame the recession that lasted through much of 2001."
Linda Barrington, Conference Board labor economist: "Whenever there's a recession, there's a natural slowdown in employment and earnings. And it's not uncommon for poverty to rise before we go into a recession and to take several years to come out."
Allen: "This is the first time in nearly a decade the number of poor Americans has increased two years in a row, a troubling statistic that raises more questions about whether the nation's economy is recovering fast enough. Poverty remains highest for African-Americans, 24.1 percent. And the only region of the country where poverty rose: the Midwest because of manufacturing industries hard hit by unemployment. Today the Bush administration insisted its economic policies will create more jobs."
Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary: "If you look at the latest indicators on GDP, which were revised today, you see that there, the economy continues to grow, and it continues to pick up."
Allen concluded: "While the economy is showing positive signs, today's report suggests millions more Americans still are wondering when they'll see any improvement in their lives. Ron Allen, NBC News, New York."

Missing from the network stories: Any sense that America's ever-increasing wealth and technological advancements are improving the lives of everyone, even those at the bottom, a theme explored in a 1998 paper by Robert Rector, the Heritage expert who got a soundbite in the CBS story.

An excerpt from Rector's "The Myth of Widespread American Poverty," published on September 18, 1998:

Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau issues an annual report on the number of Americans who are "living in poverty." But a close look at the actual material living standards of persons defined as "poor" demonstrates that the Census Bureau's official poverty report is misleading.

If poverty is defined generally as lacking adequate nutritious food for the family, clothing, and a reasonably warm and dry apartment to live in, or lacking a car to get to work when one is needed, then there are few poor persons remaining in the United States. Real material hardship does occur, but it is limited in extent and severity. The bulk of the "poor" today live in material conditions that would have been judged comfortable or well-off just a few generations ago.

The following facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau are taken from various government reports:

-- In 1995, 41 percent of "poor" households actually owned their own homes. The average home owned by a person classified as "poor" has three bedrooms, one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

-- Over three-quarters of a million "poor" persons own homes worth over $150,000; and nearly 200,000 "poor" persons own homes worth over $300,000.

-- Seventy percent of "poor" households own a car; 27 percent own two or more cars.

-- Ninety-seven percent of the "poor" have a color television. Nearly half own two or more color televisions. Nearly three-quarters have a videocassette recorder, and more than one in five has two VCRs. Sixty-four percent own microwave ovens, half have a stereo system, and over a quarter have an automatic dishwasher.

-- Two-thirds of "poor" households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning....

-- Most poor children today are in fact super-nourished, growing up to be, on average, one inch taller and ten pounds heavier that GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.

Thus, the annual Census poverty report misrepresents the living conditions of lower-income Americans and greatly exaggerates the extent of poverty in the United States. There are three sources of error in the Census Bureau's report.

First, the Census Bureau deems a family to be poor if its cash income falls below certain thresholds. (The poverty threshold for a family of four was $16,404 in 1997.) But these thresholds have been set artificially high. Although families with incomes below the thresholds will face many financial difficulties, they are not necessarily poor in the sense of lacking adequate food, shelter, and clothing.

Second, in determining whether a family is poor, the Census Bureau considers only current income and ignores all assets accumulated in prior years. Thus, a businessman who suffers temporary business losses resulting in a negative net income for the year will be labeled as "poor" even if he has a million dollars sitting in the bank.

Third (and most critically), the Census Bureau radically undercounts the true economic resources or annual income received by the American public. This may be seen by comparing Census income figures with the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA), which provide the figures measuring the gross national product. In 1996, NIPA figures showed that aggregate "personal income" of Americans was $6.8 trillion. By contrast, aggregate personal income according to the Census Bureau's official definition of income was only $4.8 trillion. Thus, the Census Bureau missed $2 trillion in annual income, or roughly $20,000 for each U.S. household....

END of Excerpt

For Rector's report in full: www.heritage.org

FNC and MSNBC Pick Up on CyberAlert Item
on Dan Rather's Caveat

You read it here first. FNC's Fox Newswatch over the weekend and MSNBC's Scarborough Country last Tuesday both picked up on a CyberAlert item about how CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather followed up a September 19 story on "crime, banditry and thuggery from carjacking and robbery to kidnapping and murder" in Iraq by offering this caveat: "A reminder that television sometimes has trouble with perspective, so you may want to note that in some areas of Iraq, things are peaceful."

In a September 27 Fox Newswatch segment on complaints that the media are downplaying good news, host Eric Burns observed: "I think there's a lot on angst in this business today on the part of journalists trying to figure out how to do this themselves and I think there was a remarkable example of this on the CBS Evening News the other night. Listen to this, this is what Dan Rather said introducing a piece from Iraq:"
Rather, September 19: "Ordinary Iraqis are faced with an extraordinary surge of crime, banditry, and thuggery from carjacking and robbery to kidnapping and murder."
Burns: "Alright, sounds like a negative piece is coming up. So the piece runs, it portrays these incidents, and then here's what Rather says at the very end of the piece:"
Rather: "A reminder that television sometimes has trouble with perspective, so you may want to note that in some areas of Iraq, things are peaceful."
Panelist Cal Thomas then remarked: "I loved that! That is one of the great disclaimers. That should be clipped by every network and stuck in as a bumper to every story that's covered."

Several days earlier, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough cited the MRC in picking up on the same Rather event. In the "Joe's Got Issues" segment on the September 23 Scarborough Country, Scarborough relayed:
"Speaking of the real story, the Media Research Center reports that Dan Rather, like Colin Powell and Congressman Marshall, knows that sometimes the media's focus on Iraq is just far too negative. The CBS anchor admitted that the media reports coming out of Iraq are sometimes not put in proper perspective. Rather recently introduced an Iraq segment saying, quote: 'Ordinary Iraqis are faced with an extraordinary surge of crime, banditry, and thuggery from carjacking and robbery to kidnapping and murder.'
"CBS's correspondent, Kimberly Dozier, then went on to give a gloom and doom report saying that Baghdad streets are among the, quote, 'most dangerous streets on Earth,' and that desperation drives murder and theft. The most dangerous streets on Earth? Such melodrama for a news story.
"The dire report was apparently too much even for Dan Rather to stomach, because when he came back on the air he told his viewers, quote: 'A reminder that television sometimes has trouble with perspective, so you may want to note that in some areas of Iraq, things are peaceful.' By the way, some areas of Iraq include almost 70 percent of the land occupied by the Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south."

The September 22 CyberAlert had reported: The CBS Evening News, where the stories, self-admittedly, don't match reality. On Friday night, Dan Rather introduced a dire story on how "ordinary Iraqis are faced with an extraordinary surge of crime, banditry and thuggery from carjacking and robbery to kidnaping and murder" resulting "in a population fearful, frustrated, angry and heavily armed." But never mind. After the subsequent story on mayhem in Baghdad, Rather conceded that the report he just aired had distorted the situation: "A reminder that television sometimes has trouble with perspective, so you may want to note that in some areas of Iraq, things are peaceful."

For that item in full: www.mediaresearch.org

Actor Tony Randall on Bush and Cheney:
"I Hated Them!"

Actor Tony Randall, "Felix Unger" on the Odd Couple TV show, last week oddly proclaimed that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft would not be welcome at his funeral. At a press conference marking National Funeral Service Education Week, Randall, a new spokesman for the National Funeral Directors Association, imagined what might occur at his funeral: "George Bush and Richard Cheney come -- but they're not allowed in because everyone knew how much I hated them!"

He may have been joking, but there seemed to be an underlying element of truth to his disgust with Bush and Cheney.

An excerpt from a September 25 Washington Post story by Libby Copeland on Randall's latest gig:

Tony Randall was in town yesterday at the National Press Club to promote fun funerals. Since this is National Funeral Service Education Week, Randall was surrounded by funeral directors, as well as a fellow from Hudson, Wis., who brought pictures of his friend, a Shriner clown, being buried in full clown regalia.

At 83, the new spokesman for the National Funeral Directors Association keeps his gray hair trimmed close to his head, and he's slim -- his shoulders seem much narrower than his suit jacket would suggest. When he takes the podium, he apologizes for a nasty cold, notes that the word "undertaker" has gone out of fashion over the years and tells a few death jokes. He says a doorman asked him recently, "Hey, Mr. Randall, you going to meet Bob Hope?" Randall beseeches the audience, "Do I look that bad?"

The small media corps -- which, incidentally, looks young enough to barely remember Randall's half of the "Odd Couple," let alone his films with Doris Day and Rock Hudson, or the '50s television show "Mr. Peepers" -- titters....

For a man of 83, Randall is in an odd place, straddling the worlds of the young and the old. In 1991 he started a nonprofit called the National Actors Theatre. His wife of 54 years died the next year, but he has since remarried, and his current wife, Heather Harlan, is 32. They live in Manhattan and have a daughter who is 6 and a son who is 5. An opera aficionado, Randall likes to take his daughter to operas (she has seen 13 of them). He sings to her, he says. Sitting in the Fourth Estate restaurant on the press club's 13th floor, he breaks into "Va, pensiero" from Verdi's "Nabucco."

He says, quite seriously, that he doesn't want to speak publicly about his funeral plans, but then -- shifting back into comedian mode -- he spins a fantastic vision of the day.

"It's a national day of mourning, and the funeral is held in some vast, impressive place and dignitaries from all over the world come and every important person in the United States comes," he says. "George Bush and Richard Cheney come -- but they're not allowed in because everyone knew how much I hated them!"

He seems delighted by this notion. We wonder if anyone else is banned.

"Rumsfeld, if he dared show his face!"

And Ashcroft?

"Ashcroft wouldn't dare come because there are going to be naked women -- breast-exposed women -- saying, 'This would've been for you, Tony!' "

He slaps his thigh about 15 times....

END of Excerpt

For the Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com

For the National Funeral Directors Association page about Randall's role: www.nfda.org

NBC Drama Focuses on Hypocritical "Ultra-Conservative" Senator

The hypocritical behavior of an "ultra-conservative and moral Senator" will be one of the plot lines Monday night on NBC's new drama, Las Vegas, which revolves around actor James Caan as the security chief at a Las Vegas area resort/casino.

The show description for the September 29 episode titled, "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas," as listed on the NBC Web site: "When the body of Danny's (Josh Duhamel) childhood friend Greg is discovered in the desert, the ex-marine decides to hunt down the killer himself setting his sights on a sleezy local loan shark. Meanwhile, the arrival of ultra-conservative and moral Senator Bill Henderson (guest star Daniel Hugh Kelly) in sin city puts Ed (James Caan) on edge as he must conceal the important guest's identity from a investigative reporter looking for a story. Elsewhere, Mary (Nikki Cox) settles in into her new position as hotel special events coordinator while attempting to control an actor taking his role as King Arthur in the dinner show to heart as he believes Ed to be Merlin reborn. Vanessa Marcil, Molly Sims and James Lesure also star."

That's online at: www.nbc.com

From a promo I saw on NBC, you can bet this "ultra-conservative" Senator will not only be a big gambler but some kind of sex fiend.

Las Vegas airs on NBC at 9pm EDT/PDT, 8pm CDT/MDT.

# Howard Dean is scheduled to appear Tuesday night on NBC's Tonight Show.

-- Brent Baker