Are There Some Holes in This Pants Story?

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Is that a debate tape in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?

The latest chapter in the Debategate saga centers on a pair of khakis.

The FBI is investigating whether an aide to Mark McKinnon, a media consultant for George W. Bush, may have been involved in sending a purloined videotape of the Texas governor's debate preparation to an associate of Al Gore. The aide, Yvette Lozano, was photographed by a security camera at a nearby post office mailing a package; the FBI thinks that may have been the videotape.

Interviewed by the FBI, Lozano insisted that the package was merely a pair of her boss's khaki pants that she was returning to The Gap. She went public on Tuesday with her denials. "[The FBI] kept saying, 'Those weren't pants in that package,'" she told The Dallas Morning News. And, indeed, McKinnon has a receipt for a pair of replacement pants. Cost? $19.99.

Airtight story?, with the aide of a high-speed Internet connection, has a few questions. First, as any online Gap shopper should know, you can return merchandise either by mail or to the nearest store for a refund or exchange. The Gap makes this point prominently on its web site. According to, an online mapping service, there's a Gap just 1.1 miles from McKinnon's Austin, Tex., office. According to the Postal Service's web site, the nearest post office is 1.3 miles away. Why take the longer drive to the Post Office, where service is famously slow?

"I was returning pants that I bought online," explains McKinnon, who adds that his size, 29" x 31", is so unusual that he often can't find them in the store. Had he tried to exchange them locally, "I would have ended up going to a bunch of stores that don't have my size."

OK, but why would McKinnon, in the throes of a historically close presidential race, be bothered to dispatch an aide to exchange a pair of heavily discounted pants in the first place? "Hey, it was a deal!" he says. "Besides, I'd been in the office for a year and a half and the pants I had were in pretty bad shape." Sounds plausible enough. But one thing's for certain: He definitely would have saved himself a headache by going to The Gap.