Better Make It a Sharpie-or Else
A father's influence on his son can be incredible, from shaping a boy's outlook on life to the tiny, seemingly unimportant things like choosing between Bic and Sharpie. That's certainly been the case in the Bush family, where President Bush has sometimes gone Texas-big with his dad's lessons. Where the 41st president played baseball, the 43rd owned a baseball team; while Dad stopped troops short of invading Baghdad, W made it his target; and as the former prez prefers to use Sharpies, the current prez demands them-and even gives them as presents.
"He asks for them by name," says a Bush insider, "and if someone hands him something else, he barks, 'Where's the Sharpie?'" How come? "They're so easy to use," says another Bushie. "And you can see what you've written." Bush's isn't just any Sharpie. Like those famous boxes of peanut M&Ms, Bush's Sharpies carry his signature and the words The White House. He even has Camp David Sharpies. If you're an important aide, the presidential Sharpies are included with a signed golf ball, baseball, tie clip, and cuff links in the White House trinket bag each gets.
Sharpie boss Howard Heckes, president of Sanford Brands North America, says lots of celebs-like tennis star Maria Sharapova-have personalized pens, but "it's pretty cool" to supply the prez. "Sharpies are good for the president of the United States or the president of the PTA."
Can Magnum P.I. Replace Moses?
That old National Rifle Association TV ad in which Magnum P.I. actor Tom Selleck says, "I am the NRA" might be making a comeback. That's because he's being talked about as the replacement for former five-term NRA President Charlton Heston, the Moses portrayer who is afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. NRA insiders like the idea of promoting Selleck, an off-and-on NRA-er since he was a kid and now one of 76 board members, to the top job. But some suggest that while it will eventually happen, it won't happen soon. Emilie Raymond, author of the new book From My Cold, Dead Hands: Charlton Heston and American Politics, agrees. "Maybe when Selleck hits a point in his career when he's doing less leading roles and more cameo spots," she tells us, "he'll have time to devote to the NRA in a fashion similar to Heston's presidency."
He Saw 9/11, Now He Sees 'the End'
Joel Rosenberg, the New York Times bestselling author whose books have eerily predicted bad things like 9/11, has a new one coming out, and in it he takes on the superbig question: Is the end near? Seems many think so. For Epicenter, a book on the Middle East crisis, Rosenberg had the polling firm McLaughlin & Associates ask 1,000 adults if they agreed that current events were evidence of what the Bible calls the last days. In the poll, provided exclusively to Whispers, a remarkable 42 percent agreed. The breakdown is even more startling: Half of women agree, 75 percent of blacks agree, and 57 percent of those ages 18 to 25 agree.
Our and Ann Richards's Secret
She was justly celebrated for her barbed wit, and when former Texas Gov. Ann Richards died of cancer this month, it was her "Poor George" line about former President Bush in her electric keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention that won attention. "He was born with a silver foot in his mouth," she twanged. One of the secrets Richards took to her grave: She lifted the line from U.S. News Editor-in-Chief Mort Zuckerman, who used it an editorial less than a month before. When they crossed paths after she had used the line a second time, he thanked her for making it famous. Richards smiled wickedly: "I didn't give you credit then," she said, "and I'm not going to give it to you now." They both laughed.
Even Liberals Know Sex Sells
If all those bankruptcy rumors about liberal Air America Radio are true, then maybe its new morning-drive-time feature show, The Young Turks, can help in more ways than just spicing up the airways. As in sharing profits from its hugely popular $6.99 girlie calendar that features curvy young cohost Jill Pike. "We've made more money off those calendars than Cheney has from Halliburton," says Cenk Uygur, another cohost of the show that debuts on Air America September 18-and also switches from Sirius to XM on satellite radio. The third cohost,Ben Mankiewicz, adds: "Guys want Jill's calendar so much that we're thinking about giving out her phone number so they can just call her and ask her what the date is."
Clinton's New Date: Laura Bush
Another Clinton-Bush odd couple forms this week when first lady Laura Bush headlines the opening of the second annual Bill Clinton Global Initiative. That's Bubba's big effort to fix the world's problems. Rules are that every headliner must pledge action in a major problem area; the first lady will call for a special clean water program in sub-Saharan Africa. Clinton spokesman Jay Carson says Bush's participation is "a testament to her commitment to good works around the world and the nonpartisan nature of this event."
Spotlight on an Ex-House Page
At 16, she was just a "geek" from Kentucky serving as a House of Representatives page. But Courtney Fine didn't fall into the trap some others did: going wild away from home. "I was a geeky page. I got into it," she says. Fine fast worked her way up the ranks and soon became one of the few House floor cloakroom pages, where she regularly interacted with lawmakers, befriending some. And now, nine years later, they want her back. But not to deliver envelopes and phone messages. The glam Fine has been invited to perform her well-received one-person play Me2, which she says is "about a girl's worst nightmare-losing her cellphone." Adds L.A.-based Fine: "I never would have thought I'd be a page, go to Hollywood, and then come back to perform."
With Suzi Parker
This story appears in the September 25, 2006 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.