RABBIT DEPLOYMENT FORCE

In any presidential campaign there are events, or missteps, that become the stuff of history. Who can forget Mike Dukakis in the tank with that goofy grin and headgear? Or Ed Muskie choking up on the flatbed truck that snowy day in New Hampshire? Or Nelson Rockefeller flipping the bird to a heckler?

And now, from Minneapolis, the Gore campaign gives us a dramatic rescue that, while perhaps not quite historic, will nonetheless be a fine addition to the list of great campaign moments.

Seems Al Gore was giving a speech on July 30, one of the hottest days of the year with temperatures in the high 90s, droning on about -- sorry -- "unveiling" his middle-class tax-cut proposal.

Gore's event was being dogged as usual by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in the form of a six-foot-tall rabbit. PETA is opposed to the Clinton administration's health research program for testing the public safety of more than 2,000 widely used chemicals. Problem is, animals are used in the testing.

So the giant rabbit was outside protesting away when the heat (or maybe it was the speech) got too much and the creature went down. Gore's security detail found out and alerted local officials, who whisked the rabbit to a hospital, where it was revived.

"We've always maintained that this is a public health program designed to help people," said Gore spokesman Chris Lehane. "In this case, we were able to help both a person and a rabbit. This is the `third way.' "

RIGHT GENE, WRONG SCHOOL

This wire story came in recently from Reuters:

"CORRECTED-CORRECTED -Scientists pinpoint gene for dyslexia.

"In LONDON story headlined `Scientists pinpoint gene for dyslexia' dated September 7, please read in fifth paragraph . . . and the University of Miami in Florida . . . instead of . . . the University of Florida in Miami . . . (correcting name of university)."

We're not making this up.

BOMBS AWAY

Dr. Strangelove ("How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb") is alive and well at the National Atomic Museum at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. The museum's gift shop used to sell wonderful atomic bomb earrings -- silver replicas of the "Fat Man" and "Little Boy" bombs that were dropped on Japan. A protest by Japanese anti-nuclear activists recently forced the museum to agree to stop selling the earrings once its current stock sells out.

The earrings have already been removed from the museum's Web site, www.atomicmuseum.com. But not to worry. The online store says "we proudly offer several items that you won't find anyplace else!" And: "Any one of these items is guaranteed to start a conversation."

For example, there are several offerings, including a medallion and a plaque, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the "First Atomic Bombardment," apparently referring to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts. There are also bomb blueprints and a "gorgeous paperweight."

But our favorite is the $15 "50th Anniversary Ornament." "Be sure to hang this beautiful souvenir ornament on your Christmas tree this winter!"

That would certainly be an unusual reminder of peace and goodwill.

BE COOL, JOIN THE ARMY

No matter how far the journey, how difficult the terrain, how huge the disaster, the Army will be ready . . . with crushed ice for margaritas or a chilled brewski.

The Army reports that it recently linked with IAP Worldwide Services of Columbia, S.C., for a "firm-fixed-price requirements contract (appropriation number and dollar value will be issued with each delivery order), with a base year total of $105,728,906, and a cumulative total of $333,368,713, if all options are exercised (base year plus two option years). The contractor will provide packaged ice for delivery during disasters or other emergencies. Work will be performed at various locations inside and outside of the continental United States and is expected to be completed by July 31, 2002. There were 76 bids solicited on June 15, 1999, and three bids were received. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston, S.C., is the contracting activity (DACW60-99-D-0002)."

Now nearly $106 million a year might seem a bit much for ice, but an Army spokesman notes that this means delivery to some pretty tricky places on short notice with refrigerated planes and trucks and such.

Bottoms up!

Tips and comments for Al Kamen's column are welcomed at: In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or by e-mail at Loop@washpost.com. Please include home and work phone numbers.