(GK: Garrison Keillor, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith, TR: Tim Russell, RD: Rich Dworsky)

GK: The last of the three presidential debates took place this past week in St. Louis and there was one question that's been on my mind that the candidates didn't answer so we asked them to come on our show today. Vice-President Gore, welcome to St. Paul.

TR (GORE): Actually I'd prefer that you call me Al. It's what everybody calls me who knows me well and who knows how hard I'm going to work for middle-class Americans after I'm elected President, middle-class Americans like Bonnie Sue Harbinger who's sitting right there in the front row. Hi, Bonnie Sue.

GK: Okay. And welcome to you, Governor Bush.

TR (BUSH): Thanks a bunch, and I'm tickled pink to be here ---- You want me to talk about education?

GK: Pardon me?

TR (BUSH): You got an education question, I'm all ready to go on that one. Got it all right fresh in my head and she's all ready to roll. You just say the word, "education," and I'm all over it. Okay? You let me know.

GK: Actually, the question I'd like to ask is one that's been on my mind lately and maybe on the minds of other parents, and that's the question----

TR (BUSH): Education.

GK: Education?

TR (BUSH): My budget commits $14 trillion over the next 40 or 45 years to the very thing you're talking about right now and the difference is that my plan offer choices to people and you don't say this is best or that is best, like they do in Washington, D.C. I don't believe in that.

GK: Okay, but my question has to do with sleep. How do you get a small child to go to sleep? I have a daughter----

TR (BUSH): I believe that when it comes to sleep, no child should be left behind. And I believe in choices. And when it comes to children sleeping, prescription drugs offers parents a choice. But I think we must lead. And that's what I've been doing in Texas. I went to bed earlier than any governor before me and I set an example for children by being in bed by seven or eight o'clock at night. Thanks to prescription drugs.

GK: Mr. Vice-President-----

TR (GORE): Call me Al. Really. People who know me say I'm just as natural and down-to-earth as the next guy. A friend of mine came up to me the other day and he said, "Al" ---- he called me Al ----- he said, "Al, you perhaps have done more for the socially challenged than almost any individual I've known and yet there is so much yet that could be done." That was the day I started Al-Anon. For all the other Als.

GK: Mr. Vice-President, I ask this as a parent, how do you get a small child to go to sleep?

TR (GORE): Well, Tipper and I were fortunate to be blessed with four different children, one male and three female children, or girls, all of whom are here tonight, by the way, they're sitting over there right next to Ginny Mae Kemper who, under my opponent's proposal for Social Security, would be forced to live in an abandoned refrigerator and eat dog food for dinner and sell her blood down at the bloodbank just to get by -----

GK: Mr. Vice-President, the question was about bedtime-----

TR (BUSH): Let me just respond to those irresponsible charges. As Governor of Texas, I have personally hugged or participated in photo opportunities with more than fifty-thousand impoverished children, and I resent the interference that I am somehow calculused or indifferentiated toward the needs of the poor. This administration had eight years to deal with this problem and what did they do? Nothing. I'd get it done. That's the difference between me and big-spenders like Mr. Gore.

GK: But as far as getting children to go to bed and go to sleep----

TR (GORE): I have gotten things done. I have made the tough choices. Once I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. That wasn't easy, but I did it. And when I'm elected, people like Elaine Bergstrom of Gary, Indiana, know that Al Gore will work for them. Under the Governor's plan, Elaine Bergstrom would be tied naked to an anthill at high noon and be forced to drink a pitcher of warm spit. Under my plan, she'll be able to get the training she needs to support those four wonderful children of hers.

GK: Speaking of children, Mr. Vice-President, how do you get kids to go to sleep?

TR (GORE): Tipper and I were blessed with four wonderful children and when it came to bedtime, I found that by just sitting there and talking to them about sleep, they listened to what I had to say and they saw the importance of it and they went right to sleep.

GK: They went right to sleep.

TR (GORE): I found that all I had to do was explain it to them, just as in this campaign all I have to do is explain my program to folks like Booger Bowman of Butte, Montana-----

GK: Okay, okay---- thank you, Mr. Vice-President.....

TR (GORE): Call me Al. Booger Bowman calls me Al because he knows that I'll work hard every single day in the Oval Office fighting for middle-class Americans who if my opponent is elected will be unable to sleep for the next four years.

GK: Thank you. Governor Bush----

TR (BUSH): Well, to me, going back to when I was in college, sleep means education ---- for me, sleep and education go hand in hand, and I believe in a world in which nobody is left behind and where we trust the American people and we give people choices, whether to sleep or do something else, and my plan sets aside four trillion dollars and I just think it's up to each individual American, all I can do is lead, and that's what I've done as Governor of Texas.

GK: Thank you very much. (PLAY OFF)

(c) 2000 by Garrison Keillor