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24 December 1999

A holiday howler: Yes, Virginia

Synopsis: Yes, Virginia, there’s something bad wrong with Al Kamen and the rest of this press corps.

Will Real Gore Backdrop Please Stand Up?
Al Kamen, The Washington Post, 12/24/99

Last year, we made the analysts work on Christmas Eve (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/24/98), and after all the grumbling and muttering of words like "Dickensian," we gave them this Christmas Eve off. But Al Kamen forced us to pen this dispatch with his bizarre work in today's Post. Yes, Virginia—there's something bad wrong with the heart and the soul of the press corps, as you'll understand when you read Kamen's item. And no, we did not make this up:

KAMEN: One of the more heartwarming traditions of Christmas is opening dozens and dozens of inspiring cards from people and institutions you don't know.

So when colleagues here received their Christmas cards from Vice President Gore, each one individually machine signed, they were delighted. But there was something odd about the picture on the front. Gore and family seemed to have been pasted on to the pasture background. Something like those presidential cardboard cutouts for tourist snapshots on Pennsylvania Avenue.

A phony Christmas card? From the candidate who's trying so hard to be real? The newsroom was stunned. So we checked with Post photo chief Joe Elbert. "It looks totally fake," he assured us after studying it closely, "but it's quite real." There was something about how outdoor lighting can create that effect.

The shot was taken by a private photographer at the farm in Carthage, Tenn., in the fall.

Alas. Even when he's real, he looks phony. Must be a campaign metaphor in there somewhere.

But seriously, folks. These exact words appear in the Post this morning.

By the way, it seems the Post's photographic crew are just as dim as the newspaper's writers. We've seen the card that has made Kamen ponder, and while we don't know the name of the photographic process involved, we've seen many photos that use the effect. So have you. We guarantee it.

We've tried to tell you, all year long, about the bizarre mental state of the celebrity press corps. We hope we don't have to say a word about today's striking example.


Coming: The exhausted analysts are home for the holidays. They've earned a week away from the likes of dim Kamen. We'll be back here on 12/31.