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The Launch 

Published October 23, 1996 at 4:00 a.m. | Updated November 7, 2017 at 12:39 p.m.

“You gonna go for something more than governor someday?” asked the little old lady of Gov. Howard Dean on WKDR’s “The Mark Johnson Show” Tuesday.

“Oh, I don’t know,” replied Ho-Ho. “Not anytime soon.”

Let’s face it, folks. Ho-Ho wants to go to the top — the very top — and he’s right on schedule. His calculated public confession of a pot-smoking, beer-swilling college career registered 7.7 on the Richter scale. Big balloons for Howard B. Dean — doctor, governor and regular human being! The dude inhaled, for chrissakes. He got STONED! You can go right ahead and mark you calendars. “Howard Dean for President” has been launched. Come in, Houston. We have a lift-off!

Our Washington, D.C., sources say Ho-Ho’s straight talk on dope was heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill. His gutsy declaration reverberated through political circles with lightning speed. Howard Dean is on the radar down there as somebody to watch — very closely. Ho-Ho’s recent performances on CNN’s “Crossfire” have shown the country the guy is smart as a tack and has the mouth to match. Dean’s the only “Crossfire” guest yours truly has ever seen who cuffed and stuffed John Sununu, the bully boy of the right wing.

These days, everyone's crystalballing Ho-Ho’s future. Will he take a position in Bill Clinton’s cabinet?

Not likely. He’s a politician, not a bureaucrat. The CW is, he’ll finish out his coming two-year term as Vermont governor, then take his “Universal Health Care for America’s Children” crusade on the road until Al Gore taps him as his veep running mate in 2000. Al’s already admitted to smoking dope in Vietnam. Howard sucked on the big bong at Yale. They can swap old ’60s stories around the lava lamp. Far out.

Another quite interesting scenario involves Jim Jeffords, one of the state’s greatest political success stories, who has achieved everything he ever wanted except being governor of the state he loves. He’s got four years left on his term in the U.S. Senate. He could have stayed quiet this fall, but his aggressive public support for Susan Sweetser reflects a desire to go before the electorate now. Why now?

Well, fact is, nothing’s stopping Jeezum Jim from running for governor in two years. Without Ho-Ho seeking reelection in ’98, Jeffords would be the most experienced horse in the field. And he wouldn’t have to surrender his U.S. Senate seat to do it unless he won. Then what happens?

Just imagine. Jeffords cuts a deal with Dean and, upon taking the oath as Governor of Vermont in January 1999, Republican Jim Jeffords appoints Democrat Howard Dean to the United States Senate. Crazy?

We ran it by Sen. Jeffords Tuesday at Susie Creamcheese’s latest fundraiser. He replied with a rock-solid “no comment.”

Think about it. Jimbo would love sticking it to the Republican right-wingers who’ve always stuck it to him. It’d be a mucho satisfying payback. And secondly, Jeezum Jim and Ho-Ho are birds of a feather. They both play to the moderate mainstream middle while dissing both the far left and the far right. Republicans despise Jeffords for behaving like a Democrat, and Democrats loathe Howard when the Republican child inside him erupts on the surface.

With a deal like that, everybody wins. Jeffords gets to realize his lifelong dream to be governor of his beloved Green Mountain State, and Ho-Ho moves one giant step closer to the White House.

Hey, don’t Bogart that joint! Pass it back.

False Reporting — That’s what Governor Dean says of the coverage of his marijuana heart-to-heart by the state’s'largest out-of-state-owned newspaper. The story broke first in the Rutland Herald. The next day the Freeps ran an Associated Press take on the matter on the front page. And the day after that, the Freeps got their prize-winning Montpelier bureau chief to do another version on page one. Only Ho-Ho says it was pure B.S.

“The real story happened in Rutland,” said Dean, “and the Free Press tried to make it seem they hadn’t been scooped by juxtaposing an interview I had given to Jeff Good with an inaccurate and emotional headline implying I had had that discussion in front of my daughter’s class. That was not true. That did not happen. My wife was there. She was shocked. She works in the library. The Free Press reporter didn’t know that. She came home and she couldn’t believe the difference between what she saw and what was in the Free Press.”

How come no one’s surprised?

Gearing Up? — One little tidbit making the rounds in G.O.P. circles is that after the Bob Dole defeat, Republicans are going to have to do something about the gender gap that plagues their party. One solution being offered is to dump G.O.P Chairman Haley Barbour and replace him with a dame. And one of the locals to make the G.O.P. dame list is Sara Gear of Burlington, who was a major domo at the San Diego convention.

“No truth to it,” Gear told Inside Track the other day. All she’s got planned right now is a trip to Spain after the election.

Hot Ticket — “Bring your truck, bring rope, bring your mother-in-law ... to Green Candle Theater’s Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens at 135 Pearl. Yours truly left his socks there Friday night and woke up Saturday morning humming the tune, “Glitter Boots Saved My Life” — and that’s off the record, buster.

Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens is one hell of a show, the likes of which Burlington has never seen. Jordan Gullikson gives a tour de force performance as Saucy Jack. Chide Hughes, as Jubilee Climax, leader of the Space Vixens, has the voice of an angel (the body of one, too), and Bob Bolyard as William Von Wackoff casts a wickedly sinister spell from his stool on the corner of the bar. Set designer Karl W. Steen deserves a standing ‘O' for transforming the downstairs bar at 135 Pearl into something out of this world. Will Geisler’s costumes work magic. This show is hot! hot! hot! (Don’t say a word about it to the Progressive prudes on the City Council, or they’ll want to shut it down.) Keep your fingers crossed for an extended run, because Saucy Jack is already sold out through Saturday night. At press time seats are available for Sunday through Wednesday of next week, including a midnight show next Wednesday. Do yourself a favor: Pick up the phone right now (893-7333) and “come in, kick back, relax ... at Saucy Jack’s!”

Media Notes — The new guy sitting next to Erin Clark on the Ch. 5 News is Tom Hallock. He replaces the super-suave David Scott, who moved on to Peoria. Hallock’s been the weekend anchor in Portland, Maine, at WGME-TV. He’s also a Plattsburgh State Cardinal and a former Ch.5 intern. Small world, isn’t it?

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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.


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