Al Gore loyalists are enraged at Ralph Nader, whose third-party campaign may have denied Gore the presidency. Around 2:30 a.m. today in Bill and Hillary Clinton's hotel suite--where Miramax mogul Harvey Weinstein and Talk magazine mistress Tina Brown gathered with 50-odd beer-drinking movie folk and hangers-on (including yours truly)--it was apparent that the Clintons are no exception.
After President Clinton ticked off the states, including Florida, where Nader was hurting Gore, Brown's husband, Harry Evans, exclaimed: "I want to kill Nader!"
"That's not a bad idea!" Sen.-elect Clinton replied with a big grin--immediately followed by a collective cry of "That's off the record!"
But when life or death may hang in the balance, we don't believe there's any such thing. So should Nader beef up his security? Maybe, but there's certainly no reason to doubt that Clinton--if not Evans--was joking.
The mood among this morning's faithful--including Uma Thurman and Ben Affleck--ranged from giddy elation (over Hillary Clinton's drubbing of Rick Lazio) to basic dread (over Gore's possible loss to George W. Bush). Because of all the uncertainty, the first couple and daughter Chelsea decided not to drop by the glitzy Election Night bash at Elaine's, hosted by Weinstein, Brown and financial media baron Michael Bloomberg, but instead invited a delegation to the 34th floor of the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
"I grew up believing that Ralph Nader was a great leader, a folk hero," Weinstein told us bitterly as the Clintons worked the room and a television blared. "No more!"
On the bright side, the president told his guests how proud he was of his wife, who leaned into him, nuzzling his neck as he stroked her green-pantsuited back. Hillary Clinton, for her part, thanked Affleck for campaigning with her in the final week. "He really brought out a huge crowd at Cornell," she said.
"Too bad none of them were old enough to vote," the leading man replied.
Thurman, meanwhile, breathlessly told the president how the first televised debate between Gore and Bush "made me really miss you," which got Clinton to complaining about the campaign coverage. "The press was pro-Bush," he insisted. "They set an impossibly high standard, an absurdly high standard, for Gore," he went on. "It was disgusting," he concluded, glancing furtively in our direction.
For a while he stood around watching TV, as the networks projected the results of various statewide contests. When the late Mel Carnahan was declared the winner of the Senate race in Missouri, the president shouted "Yessss!" and pressed his palm to the screen.
A moment later, the first lady mused about her Senate plans: "We have to figure out what we do now."
"You sound like Robert Redford in 'The Candidate,' " her husband teased.
Then the president excused himself--"Gotta get back to work," he said--and departed with his wife.
"Has he really left?" Thurman asked us moodily. Yes, and he won't be back, we replied.
"Oh, shut up!" the actress admonished.
It was that kind of night.
In the next new phase of their farewell tour, the Clintons gave Vanity Fair permission to publish private family White House photos with President Clinton providing captions, including Ralph Alswang's portrait at Hillary Clinton's country-and-western-theme 48th-birthday party in October 1995. "She put on this kind of red-and-white cotton skirt and that big Dolly Parton-like wig. We had a great time," the president told the magazine.
THIS JUST IN . . .
* Streaming video at 11: About 180 subscribers to WJLA-TV's E-News Alert service, including Washingtonian Elizabeth Usher, received this electronic message yesterday: "You all suck." A miffed Usher told us: "I can only assume that I will be receiving a very sincere apology from the CEO of WJLA!" Moments later, WJLA webmaster Robert Forsyth did apologize, explaining electronically that "a person gained access to our private E-News Notification Service System" and that the station has "started an investigation to trace the origin of the e-mail."
* As if the election weren't conflicted enough, consider the plight of Billy Bush. The Dubya first cousin and Z-104 morning drive-time personality is stuck in D.C. doing his show while the rest of his relatives are joining the excitement in Austin. "I would like to be in Austin right now," Bush told us, "but a lot of my listeners voted for Al Gore, and I don't want to rub this in people's faces."
* Triangulation? Last night, when it seemed as if Vice President Gore was going to win Florida, the mood was glum at William F. and Pat Buckley's Upper East Side apartment. The Buckleys hosted a watch party for their Bush-leaning friends, including former U.S. ambassador to France Evan Galbraith, Canadian newspaper baron Conrad Black and former New York Times editor Abe Rosenthal and his romance-novelist wife, Shirley Lord. This last couple left early. "We're going to sit shiva," Rosenthal told his hostess, referring to the Jewish tradition of mourning. And just where did Abe and Shirley sit shiva? At Elaine's, where they showed up to commune with celebrity Gore-ites.