Today's Papers


Every paper leads with the election. The Washington Post   and USA Today   go with generic stories on the importance of turnout–the Post brazenly concluding that “only one thing is certain: When the polls close today, someone’s best effort won’t have been enough.” Every paper calls the get-out-the-vote effort the most expensive in history. (The New York Times–which runs its turnout story inside–gives a number: It will cost the parties $100 million.) The Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and NYT lead with the candidates’ final campaign swings. The Journal notes that George W. Bush spent part of his last day in both Arkansas and Tennessee. In Arkansas, he entered to the Fleetwood Mac song “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”–the 1992 Clinton campaign theme song–which segued into The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

A Journal piece argues that with Bush’s one- to two-point lead in nearly every national poll, Al Gore’s best shot is to win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote. This, the Journal notes, is a distinct possibility if Gore can take Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, where he currently is tied or barely ahead. If, on the other hand, Bush wins the popular vote by three to five points, Gore is toast.

The NYT fronts an analysis of the new House of Representatives. The speaker–either Dennis Hastert (R) or Richard Gephardt (D)–will likely have a one- or two-seat majority. Both men say they will forge compromise, yet Gephardt admits that the two haven’t spoken since June. The Demorats promise to strengthen the role of committees if they regain the majority.

The NYT reports inside that the political science empiricists who two months ago predicted a Gore victory are now less sure. Their sophisticated models, they say, do not account for things like “Clinton fatigue” and Gore’s odd decision not to make economic prosperity the centerpiece of his campaign. (To read Slate on the phony science of predicting elections, click here.)

The LAT interviews several Friends of Bill and concludes that President Clinton will be an extremely visible ex-president. Clinton, the LAT says, envisions a post-presidential role to dwarf that of Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon. After several low-key years spent earning money on the lecture tour, friends say, Clinton will launch his presidential library and use it as his platform to re-enter the policy debate, perhaps with international conferences and the like.

The NYT and Post off-lead, and the LAT fronts, the Food and Drug Administration’s warning that PPA–an ingredient in over-the-counter cold medicines like Contac, Triaminic, AcuTrim, Dimetapp, and Dexatrim–may cause strokes in young women. The FDA will ban the substance, and in the interim many manufacturers will remove the product from shelves.

The NYT fronts, and the LAT and Post reefer, the European Commission’s civil lawsuit in the United States against cigarette makers R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris. The EC seeks compensation for the tax revenue lost by the two companies’ alleged smuggling operations in Europe, including money-laundering and wire fraud. Experts estimate that smuggled American cigarettes cost European governments $1.5 billion a year in taxes and duties.

The LAT fronts, and the NYT reefers, the death at 88 of environmentalist David Brower, who transformed the Sierra Club from a California nature group into a national lobby and who founded Friends of the Earth. Brower, who was immortalized in John McPhee’s book Encounters With The Archdruid, was kicked out of both organizations for his radicalism. After quitting the Sierra Club governing board again earlier this year, he said, “The world is burning, and all I hear from them is the music of violins.”

Note to the Motorola marketing department: The NYT reports that cell phones act as plumage for males to attract mates. Observing a bar in Liverpool, British researchers discovered that while women keep their phones in their purse and use them only as needed, men display them prominently–whether they need them or not. “Lest [their phones] be overlooked, the men fiddled with them often, picking them up, moving them here or there, checking to be sure the battery was charged,” the story says. One researcher calls mobile phones “clever positional goods”–that is, they signal your status in society. The study was inspired by newspaper accounts that when clubs confiscate cell phones at the door, many turn out to be fake.