Democrats Field Gelding in Presidential Horse Race

In which our man Will Durst determines that in politics, there is such thing as too much good advice.

| Fri Oct. 13, 2000 2:00 AM EDT

See, here's the whole problem with advice. Some people never pay attention to anybody else's opinion, no matter how desperate they are for help.

Those people would be named Bill Clinton.

Other people wind up taking every stinking little shred of advice to heart, even if they're ahead in the polls and kicking major swing-state butt. And those people would be named Al Gore.

It's safe to say Gore got more advice after the first debate than NBC's programming chief got after the initial ratings for the Olympics started trickling in. Memos must have been blowing around Nashville like a dump-truck load of loose-leaf notebook paper in a squall.

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So being the good little daddy's boy he's always been, eager-to-please Prince Albert tried to accommodate each and every suggestion thrown at him in his second debate outing. And he came off like Tipper had refused to open the genital lockbox and allow him to accompany his own balls to the debate.

  • His advisors told him to quit making suffocating turtle dove noises and rolling his eyes like he was communicating with space aliens. And he did.

  • They mentioned he needed to have his make up applied by someone with experience working on the living. That was arranged.

  • Somebody said he needed to cover his bald spot. So he showed up sporting a new Rappin' Ronny 'do.

  • They cautioned him not mention any specifics he wasn't absolutely sure of, so as not to bellows the charge that he's a "master embellisher." So he became as indistinct as a foggy night at a drive-in movie theater showing a double feature "Fargo" and "Never Cry Wolf."

  • They warned him not to be too aggressive. So he curled up and rolled over on his back waiting for a nationwide belly scratch that never materialized.

But no matter how much he tried to girdle his personality in order to morph into the kinder-and-gentler Al Gore, he still couldn't keep from occasionally peering over at Bush with an electric distaste like he just couldn't believe he was losing the debate to this poisonous weasel toad.

And he lost the pundits and the polls.

So now he has to do exactly the last thing he and his campaign wanted to do: make himself over again for the third debate. Not too hot. Not too cold. This time just right.

Maybe more tan shirts.