Did Lightning Strike Twice?
by some Texas person
With all the talk about the mysterious mailing to the Al Gore campaign of a video
showing Texas Gov. George W. Bush rehearsing for their upcoming debates,
Democrats in Texas are recalling another bizarre episode from the 1980s.
It came in the heat of the 1986 gubernatorial campaign and both Karl Rove,
now Bush's chief political strategist, and Mark McKinnon, now his media consultant,
played prominent roles, on opposite sides of the fence.
Hours before a scheduled debate, Rove, who was working for former Gov. Bill Clements,
the Republican candidate, announced discovery of a tiny listening device in his Austin office.
It was hidden near Rove's desk in a needlepoint wall hanging depicting a Republican elephant.
Clements aides said they had ordered a sweep of the premises because of unauthorized leaks.
Rove stopped short of direct accusations but said "our political opposition would benefit"
from hearing his phone calls.
McKinnon, then chief spokesman for incumbent Gov. Mark White (D), responded hotly,
even suggesting that Clements staffers had planted the bug themselves as a diversionary tactic
to draw attention away from the debate. "This thing stinks," McKinnon said at the time.
"I think they were very nervous about the debate."
The FBI launched an investigation but it sputtered to a halt a few weeks later when the head
of the security firm that found the bug declined to take a polygraph test.
In the current controversy, some Republicans have voiced suspicions that the video
mailed to the Gore camp along with related briefing papers had been obtained from offices
of McKinnon, who is viewed as having worked for too many Democrats.
Texas Democratic chairwoman Molly Beth Malcolm took a different view.
"This is history repeating itself," she said yesterday.
"It has Karl Rove's fingerprints all over it."