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August 31, 2004 6:56 a.m.

Covering conventions is exciting. It's also a great way to catch up with old friends in the business. Anytime there's a big story that draws lots of media, chances are good you'll see someone you know from another market, someone you used to work with in Chicago or Spartanburg or Los Angeles.

I ran into lots of old friends at the DNC in Boston, and have seen some of the same people, and some new familiar faces, at the Garden. Reporters and photographers and engineers, guys like Tom "T-Bone" Ewing out of Chicago, Bill Martin from WJW in Cleveland, and Patrick Frasier and Kirk Wade from WSVN in Miami.  It would be tough NOT to see people I know.  There are 15,000 (!) journalists in New York covering this convention.

I also bumped into Steve Bridges in the hall outside our skybox. He's a comedian and a George Bush impersonator I did a story on last year. This guy looks nothing like the president, but can imitate his voice and mannerisms very well. To make his act a better sell, he teamed with an Academy Award-winning makeup artist, who spends two hours gluing pre-molded pieces of rubber to Steve's face, adding new eyebrows and hair, then painting on makeup. The result is so uncanny that people literally stop in their tracks. Steve told me the Secret Service, in charge of security at MSG this week, is nervous about him walking around the building in his disguise, so they may limit his movements while he's in character.

I met and interviewed Zell Miller, the Democratic Senator who's now a big supporter of the President. He's giving the keynote address Wednesday night. He told me, "We live in dangerous times. We don't need to be changing this Commander-in-Chief at this time. He's strong, he's relentless. He grabs the terrorists by the throat and won't let them go. That's what we need right now."

The Senator struck me as very bright and clear in his convictions, busy but generous with his time. I also met Alan Keyes, the former Presidential candidate now running for a Senate seat in Illinois. He was gracious and charming, but tough. He says the race is getting more heated, accusing his opponent, Democratic darling Barack Obama, of lying to win votes.

The one person I saw and DIDN'T speak to that I still hope to meet?  Bo Derek. Walked past her on the floor of the Garden, just before I did my bit on Studio B with Shep. There's still three days left...