Day 2. A cloudy morning and afternoon showers have chased vacationers from the long, sandy beaches of Cape Cod. But few of them retreated to watch the hearings.

The television over the bar at The Governor Bradford in Provincetown was wired to a VCR playing Rodney Dangerfield's Back to School. Bartender David Nicolson said not a single patron had asked him to tune in to Washington.

"This is a resort town," he said patiently, surveying customers playing chess at tables along the windows. "People don't come here to be political . . . . The last time anyone came here to be political was when Abbie Hoffman came to arm wrestle Norman Mailer," he said, recalling the day in the late 1960s when the one-time Yippie leader had searched in vain for the famed Provincetown resident.

Outside the bar, on the narrow emporium known as Commercial Street, shops offering local crafts and fast food vied for attention from the long lines of tourists that crowded the sidewalks and kept traffic to a crawl. Competition from North was insignificant.

Canadian Gary Gibson had watched some of the morning testimony with his wife, Gail, and they found it tedious. North's assertion that he was following orders, Gibson said, made his remaining testimony anticlimactic.

"They should get on to {Rear Adm. John M.} Poindexter," he said, "and see if he passes the buck, too."