A Gadfly in Glorious, Angry Exile: GORE VIDAL

Author, controversialist and now a rave-winning movie actor, Gore Vidal takes a bleak look at his country

The prayer breakfast during the Republican Convention is revving up its final hallelujahs as Mary Lou Retton burbles her introduction of President Bush. Thousands of miles away, in his aerie on the Mediterranean, an avid CNN watcher is taking in the action and talking back to his TV set. Of the ex- gymnast, he predicts, "She'll be running for office very soon." The President, as usual, quotes a letter, this one from a child named Joy Vaughn. "What if her name were Joy Previn?" asks the viewer sarcastically. One of the pols plugs voluntary prayer in schools. "Well," is the response,...

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