Gary Bauer, Call Your Webmaster

Gary Bauer will announce his withdrawal from the presidential race at a Feb. 4 press conference, according to an AP report. Bauer finished fourth in the Iowa caucuses (after Bush, Forbes, and Keyes) and a humiliatingly distant fifth in this week’s New Hampshire primary (after McCain, Bush, Forbes, and Keyes). Then why does Bauer’s Web site have a flashing “Good News” link? Because when you click that link you’re informed of a poll that says Bauer has now moved into third place in Iowa and New Hampshire. Poor bastard, thought Chatterbox–as soon as the official voting is over, Iowans and New Hampshirites decide they like Bauer after all. What a cruel fate for such a mensch-y candidate! (Except for that weird attack on Alan Keyes for jumping into a mosh pit, Bauer ran a pretty classy campaign.)

But then Chatterbox noticed that the press release was dated “January 2000.” And then Chatterbox noticed a link on the press release that said: “Bauer Unveils New Iowa Television Ad Today in Des Moines.” The press release (and, presumably, the hot link on Bauer’s home page) predated the Iowa caucuses! That made it even more poignant. Chatterbox recalls that in the 1979 political thriller Winter Kills, a telephone-answering-machine recording of the voice of Jeff Bridges’ dead girlfriend (played, interestingly enough, by one Belinda Bauer) was used to evoke, through its ghostly presence, Bridges’ continuing sense of loss. In those days, answering machines were still a technologic novelty. Today, there may be no more eloquent technologic sign of an imploding campaign than an orphan Web site. Rest in peace,