A Democratic Campaign Line Good Enough to Use Twice

Sign o' the times: Given his staffing changes of late, it's no secret that John Kerry is consulting Bill Clinton's campaign road map, but here's a story that makes you go "Hmmmmm."

Appearing Monday night on David Letterman's show, Kerry reminisced about a "quite extraordinary" scene he recently glimpsed from his campaign train: "We came through a little town . . . and these folks were out there at midnight, 12:30, with kids, thousands of them, waiting with signs and everything. . . . And I saw one sign that said, 'John, give us eight minutes, we'll give you eight years.' You never saw a train stop [so] fast."

Now, let's flip to page 114 of Hillary Clinton's bestseller, "Living History," and her recollection of riding a bus through America with her husband and Al and Tipper Gore during the 1992 campaign: "One evening in the rural Ohio River Valley, we stopped at the farm of Gene Branstool for a barbeque and a meeting with local farmers. As we were getting ready to leave, Branstool said some folks had gathered at a crossroads a few miles away and we should stop. It was a lovely summer night, and people were sitting on their tractors waving flags while children stood at the edge of fields holding signs and welcoming us. My favorite said, 'Give us eight minutes and we'll give you eight years!' "

Pure coincidence, Kerry spokesman David Wade told us yesterday. The "eight minutes" sign Kerry talked about was in Winslow, Ariz. "I'll always remember it," Wade said. "The signs have been a constant ever since, which is probably why we're usually running on Clinton time."

Felix Dennis: Wine, Women and Poems

* Filthy-rich British publishing tycoon Felix Dennis is a chain-smoking former cocaine addict who has everything a man could want: He travels on his own Gulfstream jet, keeps five residences around the world, maintains an entourage of 14 assistants, and has a very understanding French ladylove. "I have never been totally monogamous," the 57-year-old multimillionaire tells us, "but Marie-France has stuck with me for years and years. When I go see one of my old girlfriends, she just shrugs her shoulders and buys herself a watch."

But this latter-day Hugh Hefner -- he owns more than 20 magazines internationally, including the racy men's titles Maxim and Stuff -- is finding inner happiness by writing and reciting rhyming verse. "I'm a Brit poet who understands that men are emotional cripples," he says with a laugh.

Combining poetry with wine, another of his great passions, he has shelled out $600,000 of his fortune to tour 14 U.S. cities, promoting "A Glass Half Full," his book of poems. His "Did I Mention the Free Wine?" tour arrives at the Folger Theatre this evening, offering free admission and bottomless glasses of fine wines from his collection. That certainly will make his ham-handed poetry more palatable. (Consider: "Life is a terminal bungle / Whatever you do -- no-win; / We live in a zoo -- in a jungle / Where the tigers are breaking in.")

"Sure, it's a gimmick," he says of the wine, "but have you ever been to a poetry reading? This is just a way for everyone to have fun."

We asked Dennis what he thinks of Washington. "Power. The Beltway. Old guys eating too much." Hmm. Maybe he ought to try haiku.


* Bianca Jagger, a vocal crusader on human rights and environmental issues, comes to Capitol Hill today to carry a new banner: She's against toxic mold. Embroiled in litigation over mold that she says has made her $4,600-a-month Park Avenue apartment uninhabitable, Jagger has been living with friends and in hotels for more than two years, her spokesman tells us. (And she's not the only celebrity victim: Ed McMahon won a $7 million settlement in a lawsuit blaming mold for the death of his dog, Muffin.) Jagger will join Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) at a news conference.

* Finally, a poll John Kerry can groove on: MTV said yesterday that its survey of voters ages 18 to 29 shows the Democratic challenger leading President Bush 46 percent to 40 percent in that age group. And 8 out of 10 young folks polled swear they're actually going to vote.

Annals of Puffery

An Occasional Verbatim Press Release

Bipartisan Guru Provides Predictions for a Bush Win

"Siva Baba, a spiritual name given to Dr. Baskaran Pillai, Baba for short, is on a personal mission to provide teachings that will elevate consciousness to change ordinary lives into extraordinary lives. . . . In October 2000, Baba was in his ashram in India. A few American students who came to visit him asked who would be the next President of the United States. The ancient Siddha records declared that George W. Bush would be the victor. The exact reading ran as follows: 'With the blessing of Lord Siva, the son of the man who ruled the country will become the next President.' Interview Baba to discuss why the planets favor Bush to win the 2004 election."

Richard Leiby's online chat, at www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline, has moved to Thursdays at noon.

With Anne Schroeder