Sen. John Warner (R.-Va.) is said to have "chuckled"over his comic page this morning. But the way a popular cartoon feature has satirized him and his actress wife, Elizabeth Taylor, is causing something of a stir in newspaper offices around the state.
For the next six days, Warner and Taylor will be the subjects of "Doonesbury," the Pulitzer Prize-winning comic strip drawn by Garry Trudeau for some 450 newspapers around the country, including 10 in Virginia.
It is attention that the couple -- like Richard Nixon, Thomas (Tip) O'Neill and Tongsun Park before them -- could just as soon do without.
Although today's strip was mild by Trudeau's standards, "Doonesbury" surely will be poking fun at Warner's style and occasional misstatements during the fall senatorial campaign.
One of the more controversial portions of the strip suggested that Warner's offer to pay off the campaign debt of Richard Obenshain and to set up a trust fund for his family when Obenshain was killed in a plane crash was a quid pro quo to help Warner replace Obenshain as the party's nominee.
The Richmond Times Dispatch, which like other Doonesbury subscribers got the comic strips a week ago, decided to publish the cartoon but told readers in a special "explanation" that it found "some of the comments in bad taste." Editors at the Charlottesville Daily Progress and the Roanoke Times-World held meetings on the cartoon's contents but decided to publish it without comment.
"There is no basis in fact for the Obenshain stuff," said Warner's press secretary, Bill Kling, nothing that Warner was unaware of what Trudeau has in store for him the rest of the week. "That was his (Trudeau's) first salvo, huh?" Kling said.