When McCain Coughs, There's the Stink of Ink

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As the rest of the country debates the character flaws of the remaining "Survivor" contestants, pundits (professional and otherwise) in the nation's capital have been mulling over the remaining candidates in their own endurance test: the vice-presidential selection process.

The fate of the wacky "Survivor" cast, of course, has proved to be much more interesting.

And so it was with much glee Thursday night that the press was able to glom onto reports emerging from behind the Republican firewall: that Pennsylvania governor (and Dubya pal) Tom Ridge had spoken with none other than John McCain, who issued an uncharacteristically equivocal response to the enduring question, "Would you run as a vice-presidential candidate?"

Friday morning, breathless theorizing abounded in every major newspaper, hardly dampened by denials from the McCain camp and a reportedly "cool" response from the Bush folks.

OK, so this is not exactly earth-shattering, given that the object of said speculation is essentially auditioning to become the nation's Funeral-goer-in-Chief. But this is what passes for news in the dog days of summer — and it involves the one man involved in the presidential campaign who has excited any real interest among the media. In fact, these past few moments of vice-presidential conjecture are the most fun we've had since McCain left the race in the spring.

Of course, that speculation may be just what GOP strategists are hoping for; they know full well the erstwhile candidate's effect on the press corps — many members of which are rendered goo-goo-eyed in the senator's presence. And they know that the longer the guessing game continues — and the more interesting they can make it — the less time and space they have for Al Gore.