The Political Grapevine - August 1, 2001

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And now the most revealing two minutes in television, the latest from Special Report's "Political Grapevine."

Hats off to anyone who can use these berets

Do you remember those black berets the Pentagon ordered from factories in China only to have it be decided in the midst of an uproar over their origin that they will not be used?  The Washington Times reports that 618,000 of the things are now sitting in a warehouse in  Pennsylvania while the Pentagon tries to figure out what to do with them.  There's apparently little hope of recouping the $4 million that the berets cost.

Getting high over The American President

Aaron Sorkin, the creator of NBC's political drama series West Wing, who's facing drug charges after being nabbed at an airport in Burbank in April, says he's been using for years.  He tells TV Guide in an interview that while he was writing the screenplay for the 1995 movie The American  President, he was often high on crack cocaine.

He told the magazine he was living at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles and would write a few pages of script while sober, then put the "do-not-disturb" sign out and get high on crack.  "That's why it took me three years to write the script," he said.

Forced to choose his priorities early

William Kennedy Smith, the one-time rape defendant later acquitted who has become an anti-land mine activist of some note, has decided not to run for a House seat from Chicago after all.  The Chicago Sun-Times first reported that he was running focus groups to test the sentiment in the city's north side.

Smith told the paper Tuesday night that it had "caught me in the very preliminary stages" and forced him to make a decision, but he decided that his other duties had priority for now.

Took stock in the power business

California Governor Gray Davis is said by a spokesman to have "total confidence in press secretary Steve Maviglio," who says he's not resigning over revelations about his stock ownership.

Maviglio confirmed this week that he did buy 300 shares of stock in California power company Calpine, a firm that does business with the state and which Maviglio publicly praised after buying the stock.

Five state energy consultants were fired last week after it came out that they owned stock in Calpine and had helped the state buy electricity from the company.

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