A look at the left

John McCaslin
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Posted: Jan 27, 2004 12:00 AM

Former comedian and soon-to-be-launched liberal talk show host Al Franken, author of "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" (The Penguin Group, 2003) reportedly broke his own eyeglasses when tossing a Howard Dean heckler to the ground at a political event in Manchester, N.H.

A witness tells this column that the heckler, a supporter of Lyndon LaRouche, "would neither shut up or leave" the Palace Theater. So Franken, who admits in his book that he needs to lose "40 pounds" from his buttocks, morphed into a bouncer and "knocked the guy to the ground, breaking his glasses."

HOW RUDE

No sooner did President Bush detail his vision for space travel, including a manned Mars mission, and the GOP Shoppe produced a button with a picture of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and the words: "Why Can't We Send a Woman to Mars!"

KANGAROO LEGEND

Reader Lee Allen, of Provo, Utah, writes: "It seems that lost in all the obituaries on Bob Keeshan, also known as 'Captain Kangaroo,' is his war record. I recall reading ... that Keeshan was awarded the Navy Cross for valor on Iwo Jima. Lee Marvin, who was also a recipient, said that Keeshan was the bravest man he ever knew."

Intriguing, Lee, but the story you read is "almost complete fabrication," say fact-finders at TruthOrFiction.com. The story is told that "Marvin appeared on the 'Tonight Show' in the '70s when host Johnny Carson brought up Marvin's record in the Marines. Carson said people may not have known that Marvin fought in Iwo Jima, one of the best-known battles of World War II, and was awarded the Navy Cross.

"Marvin then tells a story of heroism in battle about the bravest man he ever knew who was also awarded the Navy Cross - Bob Keeshan, who later became best-known as Captain Kangaroo."

Marvin and Keeshan did both serve in the Marines. However, Keeshan - who joined up at age 17 - said two years ago that he never served at Iwo Jima, was not awarded the Navy Cross, and never saw combat.

Marvin, in fact, was wounded in the Pacific and awarded the Purple Heart, but he never fought at Iwo Jima. He's buried with a simple grave marker in Arlington National Cemetery.

ONE LAST ROSE

Michael K. Deaver, author of "A Different Drummer: My Thirty Years with Ronald Reagan," (HarperCollins, 2001) will soon have a new book out titled, "Nancy: A Portrait of My Years with Nancy Reagan" (HarperCollins, Feb. 2004).

"Alzheimer's has given Nancy the last - and painfully long - good-bye," observes the former longtime Reagan aide, writing that Mrs. Reagan wanted him to include as much about the disease in the book as he could so people understand the struggles of Alzheimer's families.

Unlike other books written about the Reagans' twilight years, Deaver becomes the first to disclose how Mrs. Reagan, accompanied by then-Reagan aide Fred Ryan, confronted the former president about the illness they suspected was slowly engulfing him.

Mrs. Reagan, he writes, was - and perhaps continues to be - the source of her husband's happiness, "the one who made him such a perfectly contented man."

"For all any of us can really know, she might still be."

Recently, Deaver and Mrs. Reagan held one of their regular lunches, during which she told a story passed along to her only a year ago by an agent on Mr. Reagan's Secret Service detail. The year was 1999, and the Secret Service agent had asked Reagan if he would like to take a walk.

"As they walked alone down Beverly Boulevard in Beverly Hills, Reagan seemed quieter than usual," he writes. "Before long, he stopped in front of a quaint blue house surrounded by a white picket fence. Beyond it, a rose garden graced the facade of the little bungalow.

"Reagan paused, then reached over the small gate, trying to lift the latch to gain entry. As he did so, the agent gently touched him on the hand with a warm admonishment. 'We can't go in there, Mr. President; it isn't our house.'

"Reagan paused for a second before pulling his hand back from the latch. 'I know,' he said quietly, 'but I just wanted to pick a rose for my love.'

"Nancy's eyes welled up telling me the story. So did mine."

TWO-FOOT GIPPER

Viewers of the Fox News Channel did a double take when Tom Adkins, publisher of CommonConservative.com, revealed a spectacular 24-inch-long ankle tattoo of Ronald Reagan, superimposed on an American Flag.

Shocked, Gary B. Smith, with whom Adkins was engaged in vigorous political debate, stated: "I like Ronald Reagan too, but I'm not sure I'd get his tattoo on my body."

Adkins replied: "Hey, do I look like the kind of guy who would get a butterfly tattooed on my butt?"

It wasn't a butterfly, but former Secretary of State George P. Shultz's rather unique tattoo was the subject of much gossip when he was the chief globetrotting statesman under President Reagan.

His spokeswoman at the time, Phyllis Oakley, declined comment on her boss' body art, purportedly a Princeton University tiger tattooed upon which Shultz sits. However, when asked one day whether there was such an animal, Oakley is credited with one of the most memorable lines ever uttered by a government flack:

"I am not in a position to know," she replied, her comment making front-page news from Washington to Wenzhou.