David Duke has so many skeletons in his closet he can't keep the door shut. The former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, now a Republican candidate for the Senate in Louisiana, has done everything to make himself look better to the voters, including some plastic surgery. But a new face doesn't mask the old Duke.
He claims to have severed his ties with the KKK years ago, and Louisiana voters either believed him or didn't care, because they elected him to the state legislature in 1989. But now that Duke is challenging Sen. J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.), the rattling noise in Duke's closet is getting louder.
Our associates Melinda Maas and Scott Sleek found the latest bones. Three years ago, Duke wrote a letter to then-Surgeon General C. Everett Koop suggesting that blood supplies be segregated by race. The letter is on the stationery of the National Association for the Advancement of White People, an organization Duke still leads.
Duke criticized Koop for his AIDS policy, which he called "mushy liberalism." He wrote that "black blood is at least 10 times more likely to be contaminated as white blood." He also called for mandatory AIDS testing for government workers, students, health workers and food handlers and for anyone who seeks a marriage license.
As the election draws near, Duke is having a hard time keeping that and other bizarre stories out of the press. He says he ended his involvement in the KKK a decade ago. But we obtained one telephone directory from 1988 that listed the Klan's telephone number at Duke's address. The number is now disconnected.
Vietnam veterans are outraged over Duke's claim that he went to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War to fight communism. In reality, he got a student deferment from the draft. Duke justifies his claim of wartime service by saying that he taught English to Laotian military officers and volunteered to go behind enemy lines. Even Dan Quayle had a better excuse than that.
Add to Duke's resume a literary career under various pen names. In the early 1970s, using the pseudonym "Mohammed X," Duke wrote a manual on street fighting for black militants, instructing them how to beat up whites. He has since explained that the book was a spoof of racism by blacks.
Then there was the instruction manual on sexual techniques for women. The book, "Finderskeepers," lists as its authors James Konrad and Dorothy Vanderbilt. Duke now admits he was Konrad.
The book contained instructions on oral sex, foreplay and vaginal exercises. It also encouraged women to have sex with married men because they make better lovers. Duke has said he only checked for grammatical errors in the sexual content of the book, but did not write those chapters.
Under the heading of garden-variety skeletons, reports surfaced that Duke had not filed state income tax returns for several years. He claimed his income was below the amount that required filing.
Louisiana voters may have thought it was worth the risk to let Duke dabble in their local politics, but the stakes are higher now and they should tell him his career in public service has run its course.