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Notebook

Numbers
1 in 200 Chance of an individual tax return being audited by the IRS last year

1 in 60 Chance of being audited in 1996

$6 million-12 million Amount George W. Bush's heirs could gain if he succeeds in repealing the estate tax

$10 million-45 million Amount Dick Cheney's heirs could gain

2 Percentage of estates in the U.S. large enough to qualify for the estate tax

25,500 Number of genes that make up a mustard plant

30,000 Number of genes that make up a human being

70,000 Number of questions asked in January about Britney Spears on the website Ask Jeeves

97 Percentage of people who asked to see pictures of Spears

3 Percentage of people who asked to see song lyrics

Sources: IRS; Wall Street Journal; Science News; Ask Jeeves

Ask Dr. Notebook
Q: I've heard that someone claims to own the asteroid on which NASA's spacecraft NEAR Shoemaker landed last week. Is that possible?

A: Although a 1967 U.N. treaty prohibits claims of sovereignty in space by countries, it may not apply to individuals. "That's my asteroid," insists space-development consultant Gregory Nemitz of the potato-shaped rock, Eros. In a filing last March, Nemitz claimed the asteroid and 31 miles of space around it. For now Nemitz welcomes NEAR, free of charge, but he's hoping that someday, the rock 196 million miles from Earth will prove a gold mine. He'd like to develop Eros for mining and tourism. Short of that, he says, he may auction it on eBay.

Eight Years Ago in TIME
Is character a constant? We put Bill Clinton on our cover as "The Incredible Shrinking President" in 1993; a hint of things to come:

"While the staff can be blamed for some of the confusion, even his closest advisers insist that Clinton is a big part of the problem. 'A lot of it can't be laid at anyone's doorstep but his own,' said one last week. Democratic Party elders admit to being stunned by Clinton's judgment lately. Having his $200 haircut and allowing a Hollywood producer to work out of a White House office and then intervene on behalf of friends to win White House air-charter business have done serious damage to his public standing. 'The best politician the Democratic Party has turned up in a long time turns out to have a tin ear,' said a longtime friend. 'He has squandered his moral authority with a lot of this stuff. It leads people to say, "This man isn't really a populist; he is a phony, a fraud." And though this perception is completely wrong in substance, it is enormously damaging and has to be dealt with. He has to regain the moral authority to call people to sacrifice.'... If he fails to adjust quickly, he will confirm the widespread belief that the biggest problem with the Clinton presidency is Clinton himself."

Elbow Rubbing
THE CLUBHOUSE Whether you call it a revolving door, musical chairs or politics as usual, the comings and goings of the board of directors at Electronic Data Systems Corp. proves partisanship runs only so deep.

--Ross Perot founds EDS in 1962, sells it to GM in 1984, resigns from its board in 1986

--Perot announces run for presidency (February 1992), taking on Bill Clinton and President George H.W. Bush, whose Secretary of Defense is Richard Cheney and whose Secretary of State is James Baker III

--Due in part to votes won by Perot, Bush loses to Clinton/Gore (November 1992)

--Baker and Cheney join EDS board (June 1996)

--Clinton names William Daley Secretary of Commerce (December 1996)

--Daley tapped to chair Gore campaign (July 2000)

--George W. Bush names Dick Cheney his V.P. candidate (August 2000)

--Cheney resigns his seat on the EDS board of directors (August 2000)

--Baker heads Bush legal team during contentious Florida recount (November 2000)

--Bush becomes President, Cheney V.P. (January 2001)

--Daley takes the EDS board seat that had been vacated by Cheney (February 2001). He will serve alongside James Baker

Television
Everyone Is Going on Strike... Except You Guys
When the WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE writers (yes, there are writers) joined the Writers Guild of America in December, they got something in the bargain besides slightly higher wages, increased medical benefits and the possibility of meeting Bruce Vilanch at union meetings. They also got a very special exemption. If the guild does indeed go on strike May 1, as most people expect, the Millionaire scribes can keep pumping out the trivia anyway. That's because the WGA is betting that by allowing the ABC powerhouse to dominate three (or more) nights a week while the other writer-depleted networks air repeats and increasingly lame reality shows, CBS, NBC and Fox will be forced to negotiate. "It's a favored-nation clause," explains Cheryl Rhoden, assistant executive director of Writers Guild West. "And it may get the attention of other companies." While unions don't normally favor one of its members over others, or allow some to go on working during a strike, they aren't likely to get many complaints from the ranks. After all, it's not like Seinfeld co-creator Larry David is threatened by guys writing trivia questions. Unless, of course, the question is "What 1998 movie did Larry David direct?"

Then & Now
THEN
1992 Elton John duets with infamously homophobic Axl Rose in a tribute to Freddie Mercury

NOW
2001 Elton John set to duet with infamously homophobic Eminem for a performance at the Grammys

Toy, Dog and Tony Shows
Fall 2001 Fashion Week, The American International Toy Fair and the 125th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show descended on New York City last week. Though their participants probably never crossed paths, Notebook observes that playthings, pleats and pooches do have a lot in common.

Primping
FASHION WEEK Maquillage for mannequins
DOG SHOW A bitch needs brushing
TOY FAIR Diva doll Alexa offers girls style commentary, such as, "Your hair is wow-a-licious!"

Celebrity Sightings
FASHION WEEK Monica Lewinsky, handbag designer
DOG SHOW Amy Tan showed one of her Yorkshire terriers
TOY FAIR Richard Simmons' "One Pound at a Time" doll

Equestrian Highlights
TOY FAIR The always-in-style rocking horse
DOG SHOW Tallyho! American foxhound chases and nabs Best of Breed
FASHION WEEK Ralph Lauren's cavalry jacket goes straight from city street to stable

Fuel
FASHION WEEK Evian and cigarettes
TOY FAIR Batteries
DOG SHOW Sausages, liver, even Oreo kibbles 'n' bits

Trends in Fur
DOG SHOW Best in Show proves it never went out of style
FASHION WEEK Sean John causes a furor over fur--a lynx tail wrap with lamb suede sweats
TOY FAIR My Pet Monster wears it well

Inherent Irony
FASHION WEEK Average model, size 4; American woman, size 12-plus
DOG SHOW Dogs much better groomed than their groomers
TOY FAIR No one under 18 allowed




February 26, 2001 Vol. 157 No. 8




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