Texas Gov. George W. Bush has drawn considerable criticism from his Republican rivals and others over an article in the first issue of Talk magazine this month.

The article portrayed Bush as mocking a death row inmate on the eve of her execution and as being uninformed about whether the number of abortions performed in Texas had decreased or increased during his tenure as governor.

Bush campaign officials have since said that parts of the interview, which also quoted Bush using vulgar language, were intended to be off the record and that some of Bush's comments were taken out of context.

Campaigning in Iowa on Friday night, Bush was asked whether he regretted doing the interview for the magazine. "I didn't do the interview for Talk," he replied. "It wasn't an interview."

That caught everyone by surprise. What was it, a reporter asked Bush.

"Somebody coming to get a flavor of the campaign," he said. "It wasn't a sit-down interview."

What's the difference, another reporter inquired.

Bush pondered the question without offering an answer for a moment until Karen Hughes, his press secretary, broke up the media scrum. "Governor," she said in a loud voice, "you need to get back to your guests."

Hatch Explains Statement on Gays

Even though Utah Sen. Orrin G. Hatch told fellow Republicans at their state convention that they should be proud of their party because "we don't have the gays and lesbians with us," he didn't intend to sound prejudicial.

Hatch, who is running for the GOP presidential nomination, explained to the Salt Lake Tribune in a story published Friday that he was just pointing out that "gays and lesbians, by and large, are very intelligent, highly educated, high-earning people, who support mainly Democrats."

And he said he resents any implication that he is intolerant: "You can sum it up in one sentence: that Orrin Hatch is tolerant of all people and that he doesn't try to tell people how to live unless they ask him."

At the Utah GOP convention in June, Hatch offered a David Letterman-style list of why Utah Republicans should be proud of their party, including the reference to gays and lesbians.

While Hatch told the newspaper that he is tolerant of all people, he does believe that homosexuality is contrary to the Bible. "It's a religious belief to me that homosexuality flies in the face of biblical teachings," he said. Hatch added that he cannot determine "whether it's a genetic predisposition or whether it is a choice."

Hatch said the situation of gays is different from that of blacks and other ethnic minorities. "People of color can't do anything about their color. But I do believe gay people have a choice to live within the legal rules or not," he said. "That's why we have civil rights laws to protect African Americans from discrimination."

Hatch cited his compromises with Democrats on legislation affecting AIDS and hate crimes, his fund-raising to combat pediatric AIDS and his support for the appointment of gay San Francisco philanthropist James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg as examples of his tolerance. Though, last month, Hatch introduced a measure that would not include gays as a protected group under the hate crimes law.

First Lady's Texas Fund-Raising

Bush isn't the only politician these days who plans to raise a lot of money in Texas. Hillary Rodham Clinton is heading to the state this week to raise campaign cash--a half-million dollars--for her expected Senate race in New York.

The first lady will spend part of Tuesday and Wednesday attending fund-raising receptions in Dallas, McAllen and Austin, as well as two in Houston, according to Howard Wolfson, spokesman for her Senate exploratory committee.

Clinton's fund-raising team has set a target of $25 million for the race.

Quayle's Words Haunt Gore

At first glance, it looks like a Web site featuring Rush Limbaugh has caught Vice President Gore saying some pretty dumb things:

"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future." And: "Time for the human race to enter the solar system." And: "I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."

But the conservative radio host, it turns out, has nothing to do with RushOnline.com. And Gore never said any of these things (except for his ill-advised remark about inventing the Internet). The comments actually were made by former vice president Dan Quayle.

An intensive investigation reveals that the two dozen Quayle quotes were bouncing around the Internet and some newspaper columns. An unknown perpetrator changed the attribution to Gore and e-mailed the material to Tom Carr, who runs RushOnline and other Web sites in Torrance, Calif. Carr kept the page up even after other e-mailers told him the verbal misfires came from Quayle, not Gore. "I've been contemplating revising it and nuking it," Carr said. "Perhaps it was a boo-boo."

Said Gore spokesman Chris Lehane: "This is one of the first examples of dirty politics in the e-politics age."

Staff writer Howard Kurtz contributed to this report.

CAPTION: Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) insists that he is not intolerant of gays and lesbians.