We’ll get to those shocking presidential endorsements from Marilyn
Manson, the New Republic and National Review in a moment.

First, we should inspect a late-arriving but still noteworthy
magazine article about George W. Bush, a.k.a. the Lesser of Two Idiots.
Bush’s famous brain isn’t on trial in a critical piece in the November


Talk,
but the oily ethics of his business career in Texas sure are.

In an unfriendly, tough-but-fair and not shrill investigative piece, Bill Minutaglio and Nancy Beiles show how Bush the Younger used his family name and his big-time political and corporate connections to get rich.

As a director of an oil company, Harken Energy Corp., he apparently did some suspiciously slippery stuff. He flouted some SEC rules and had the good luck to decide to sell $850,000 of stock just before the company went into the dumper. He was never prosecuted for anything, maybe because he had friends in high SEC places.

Also, he and his fellow fat-cat owners of the Texas Rangers made a killing by using the local government to use eminent domain powers to take land from property owners so they could build their new baseball park and the lucrative real-estate development around it.

None of this information is really new, of course. And Bush did nothing uniquely foul or criminal on his way to acquiring wealth and fame in Texas. It’s how the great American bipartisan private/public land-grab works in most big-league cities — which is why Bush has received so little so criticism for it from either Democrats or Republicans.

A much more shocking bit of political information can be found in Talk at the end of “Marilyn Manson Has a Secret,” Tucker Carlson’s profile about the ghoul-rocker. Though Manson has spent his entire career thinking up successful ways to repulse and enrage adult America, it turns out that he is really a conservative, bourgeois guy with strong Republican leanings.

His complaints about America’s vulgar, mindless entertainment and people who don’t use good grammar make him sound like Bill Bennett. And, most shocking of all, Manson — who says he loathes Gore and Sen. Joseph Lieberman — tells Tucker that “If I had to pick, I’d pick Bush, and not necessarily by default.”

You’d expect Manson to be more disposed to voting for Libertarian Party guy,

Harry Browne,
the Official Presidential Candidate of this column. Or maybe Ralph Nader, the choice of the suddenly pragmatic

Nation,
which urges the progressive faithful to vote for St. Ralph only in states where the Bush-Gore race isn’t close.

But Manson backs Bush — just like the conservatives at

National
Review
do in their newest issue. Not surprisingly, the magazine that William F. Buckley Jr. started but no longer edits day-to-day would prefer a more blatantly conservative Republican. But they reject Gore as a “demagogue,” and come out for Bush — “a modest statesman” who is “aware of his own limitations and those of aggrandized government.”

In another shocker, the

New
Republic
— which is published by Al Gore’s former teacher and longtime mentor/buddy, Martin Peretz — wholeheartedly endorses Gore, whose illustrated portrait graces its Oct. 30 cover.

The “Al Gore for President” endorsement is also a desperate plea to liberals to help save what’s left of their precious welfare state from Republicans like Bush. To the magazine’s terrified editors, Bush is not a sunny moderate or a centrist but a “radical” who will carry on the evil work of Newt Gingrich.

“Al Gore may not be the most charming man in politics,” the New Republic admits, but “if he loses on Nov. 7, it will not simply set America on an ideological course that we consider perilous and unworthy of our best traditions. It will be a sign that we are not living in a serious age.”

Sorry, boys and girls. But anyone who thinks that G.W.’s token threats to shrink the nanny government a percent or two makes him a radical is already living in an unserious age.

Quick reads
Want to get away from politics for a few hours? Can’t bear the thought of looking at

The
Sciences’
comparison of 10 Bush and Gore positions on such things as global warming, missile defense and federal research investment rates? Check out the November

Vanity Fair,
which is devoted solely to music — American music mostly, which means a rock and jazz issue.

Blessedly short on rap, loaded with great old and new photos of the likes of Bobby Darin and the Beastie Boys, its many highlights include smart, deep profiles of super-stars Bobby Darin, Madonna and Charlie Parker, plus features on the infanthood of such seminal rock ‘n’ roll institutions as the Whisky a Go Go and MTV.

Elvis Costello’s alphabetized list of “500 Albums You Need” serves no real purpose, other than to prove that he is even hipper than he always appeared to be. Eclectic to a fault, it runs from Louis Armstrong to Hendrix, Ella Fitzgerald to Chrissie Hynde, Neil Young to Lester Young, with folks like Mozart, Wagner and Wonder in between.

And, as proof of how fast we can go from irrational exuberance to irrational despondency, see

Fortune’s
Oct. 30 cover story, “Lessons From the Dot-Com Crash.” Dot-coms soared, then crashed, and in their wreckage Fortune says it has discovered 12 truths about how the Net really changes business.

“The Internet isn’t as disruptive as we thought” (old-line companies like CBS didn’t go the way of the dodo bird after all.) “If it doesn’t make cents, it doesn’t make sense” (eventually making a profit is still vitally important to surviving). And “time favors incumbents” (the Internet helps existing businesses — big-time — to lower costs).

The dot-com revolution has not lived up to its hype, says writer Jerry Useem. But the Internet still changes everything — from your job to the way businesses interact with their customers. And the real wealth creation is yet to come. It’s still going to be driven by the Internet, but it’s going to take a lot more work than we thought.

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