Political Books: Booked for the Campaign Trail
Judith Rosen -- 2/7/00
Publishers are targeting a wide variety of titles for the '00 presidential election
This election year there may not be a chicken in every pot, but readers can expect plenty of food for thought, especially as the seemingly endless campaign for president swings into high gear. With the approach of Super Tuesday next month, some publishers are rushing to get new books about the personalities behind the election into print, while others are waiting for the primaries and caucuses to pass so that voters can concentrate on ideas.
Vice President Al Gore's ruminations on the environment, Houghton Mifflin's 1992 bestseller Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, will get a facelift for Earth Day, in April. After a long paperback run, Houghton will reissue the title in hardcover with a new introduction. (The Plume paperback will continue in print.) Houghton also has high hopes for Bill Turque's critical portrait of the man who would be president, Inventing Al Gore (Mar.). Turque got unusual access to those near and dear to the vice president, including his parents. The book has already been excerpted in Newsweek.
|The election year -- and the 200th anniversary of the White House -- offers a good vantage point not only on the American political system in general, but on presidents past. Although some editors privately acknowledge that they are readying books about former President Ronald Reagan because of reports of his ill health, others make no secret about upcoming titles on the First Family (see sidebar).|
While campaign biographies have long been a staple of election-year lists, some publishers consider projections of their sales to be as accurate as a straw poll. Instead, they prefer to concentrate on topical issues of interest in even years and odd. As Harcourt publisher Dan Farley points out, "More and more campaign biographies are agenda-filled. Folks feel they can get that on Sunday morning. I'm hoping that certain books on issues will be championed in the debate."
That's part of the reason behind Farley's choice of April as pub month for Democracy Derailed: The Initiative Movement and the Power of Money, by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David S. Broder. "It didn't need to be published during a presidential election year," acknowledges Farley. "We signed the book two years ago, and we're publishing, as it happens, consistent with when David delivered the book."
Presses with long peer-review acceptance processes also shun election-year "instant" books. "We tend to look more for social issues and the kinds of political issues that are insistent," comments Ken Wissoker, editor-in-chief of Duke University Press. "We hope against hope that they are election themes." Primary campaigning has already added life to Stanford University law professor Janet Halley's Don't: A Reader's Guide to the Military's Anti-Gay Policy (May, 1999) -- part of Duke's Public Planet Books series, which combines reportage and critical thinking on current events.
Let It All Hang Out: Campaign Biographies
Still, Hyperion executive editor Leigh Haber continues to believe in the viability of the campaign biography in getting the reader -- and the vote -- out. "To my mind," she observes, "they've been experiencing a real resurgence. Not necessarily books about the campaigns, but books that give readers a window into who the candidate is. People trust books even if they don't trust all the media. Books seem like a more authoritative source."
She's excited about former Spin magazine editor Elizabeth Mitchell's W: Revenge of the Bush Dynasty (Jan.), which shows how the Texas governor's career has been carefully orchestrated to avenge his father's 1992 defeat. Just out in hardcover, W will be reissued in paperback this fall, and Mitchell will add new material as developments unfold.
No such rewrites are in the works for other books that follow the campaign trail, like Bill Minutaglio's First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty (Times Books, Oct. 1999) or Robert Timberg's John McCain: An American Odyssey (Touchstone, Sept. 1999), which itself contains a good deal of material used previously in The Nightingale's Song, his 1995 look at several Naval Academy graduates who served in Vietnam.
Presidential elections also provide an opportunity to get out the backlist. Last summer, for example, FSG reissued John McPhee's 1965 classic, A Sense of Where You Are: Bill Bradley at Princeton, written when both the New Yorker staff writer and the Democratic candidate were just beginning their careers. "Bradley running for president has given it another life," remarks senior publicist Pete Miller. "McPhee's books have never gone out of print. We rejacketed it and resold it, and he added an update."
Broadway Books has also re-released Bradley's Values of the Game (Jan.) in paper. When this title first came out in hardcover in 1998, some reviewers critiqued it as a loosely veiled campaign book despite its ostensible basketball theme. Now, in the absence of a true biography, voters are turning to the book.
|Bill and Hillary -- The Lowdown|
The Clintons have done more for literacy than any other First Family -- just witness the growing number of books inspired by this ever-newsworthy pair.
For those who believe that there exists A Vast Conspiracy (Random House) against the First Couple, New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin offers a thoughtful look at "the real story of the sex scandal that nearly brought down a president." Toobin's book, which quickly raced up bestseller charts following its release last month (today marks its fourth week on our list), has benefited greatly from Web marketing, says publicity manager Liz Fogarty. "Getting to a lot of people on the Web was key. We know that political junkies are online, and the Net is becoming important for excerpts and chats, especially if you can link them to bookselling sites." In the first two weeks following the launch of the book's Web site (www.vastconspiracy.com), Fogarty notes, it had 200,000 visits.
In The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton (St. Martin's, Mar.), New York Observer columnist J Conason and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Gene Lyons trace the roots of the conspiracy even farther, to the days of the Bush administration. "This is not an election-year book," says publisher Thomas Dunne. "It g s back 11 years, and it also shows how the media has been used." As for how important political books in general are to his imprint, Dunne remarks, "I've done a few political books, but I don't just pop them out every four years. It's just as things come my way."
Michael Isikoff's definitive account of how the Clinton scandal unfolded, Uncovering Clinton: A Reporter's Story, which was published last spring by Crown, will be reissued as a Three Rivers Press trade paperback in time for the elections. To "celebrate" the one-year anniversary of the impeachment hearings, Washington Post reporter Susan Schmidt teamed with former Post colleague (now Time reporter) Michael Weisskopf to examine the Starr investigation in Truth at Any Cost: Ken Starr and the Unmaking of Bill Clinton (HarperCollins, Jan.).
For the skinny on what it was like to be an insider during the Clinton years, Little, Brown will start with a 100,000-copy paperback reprint of George Stephanopoulos's memoir, All Too Human: A Political Education (Mar.). While it may not be clear how much appeal either Clinton has for today's pre-Baby Boomers, the success of Stephanopoulos's book is undoubtedly due at least in part to his popularity among 20- and 30-something women, who came out in droves for his hardcover tour. Two were even overheard at one event talking about how they had bought new dresses just for the signing.
Mrs. Clinton has not always had an easy time of it, as several books make clear. Gail Sheehy's Hillary's Choice (Random House, Dec. 1999) continues to sell well, according to assistant publicity director Sally Marvin. "It hit the New York Times bestseller list when it first came out," and is now hovering just out of the top 15. "The publicity is ongoing," she adds. "When Hillary announces in February, it will get a boost." Published in November by Regnery was Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton; author Barbara Olson served as the Republican chief counsel for the congressional committee investigating the Clintons' involvement in "Travelgate" and "Filegate."
Former presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonan takes a tough look at the First Lady in The Case Against Hillary Clinton (ReganBooks, Mar.), while Joyce Milton's The First Partner: Hillary Rodham Clinton (HarperPerennial, June), offers a more gossipy account. NBC news and MSNBC commentator Laura Ingraham questions the First Lady as a positive role model in he Hillary Trap: Looking for Power in All the Wrong Places (Hyperion, June).
Due in June from HarperCollins is a title that marketing director Craig Herman predicts "could eventually affect the outcome of Hillary's run for New York Senate." The embarg d State of a Union: Inside the Complex Marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton is by Jerry Oppenheimer, biographer of Martha Stewart and Rock Hudson, and promises to really "deliver the goods," says Herman.
Can the myriad facts and gossip about our First Lady really be summed up in 96 pages? Publisher Jameson Books seems to think so, as it releases this month Hillary Rodham Clinton: What Every American Should Know by Christian Josi, executive director of the American Conservative Union. At $4.95, the book seems clearly priced to reach potential voters in New York State.
No doubt, now that Hillary has tossed her hat in the ring, more books -- and more literacy -- are in store.
For candidates on the stump, writing a memoir is almost as important as kissing babies. Starting with wrestler-turned-governor Jesse Ventura's I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom Up (Villard, June 1999), most candidates have weighed in with new books. Among the most recent are: John McCain's Faith of My Fathers, written with Mark Salter (Random House, Sept. 1999), George W. Bush's A Charge to Keep, written with Karen Hughes (Morrow, Nov. 1999), Patrick J. Buchanan's A Republic, Not an Empire: Reclaiming America's Destiny (Regnery, Sept. 1999) and Donald Trump's The America We Deserve, written with Dave Shiflett (Renaissance Books, Jan.). The only one, however, that's selling well at both the chains and the independents is the McCain book, which is also high on Amazon.com's list (#76 as we go to press). Speaking of McCain, the now un-anonymous author of Primary Colors, J Klein, fictionalizes McCain's life in his latest political roman aclef, The Running Mate, coming from Dial in April.
Concerned about sluggish sales of personality titles, some publishers are waiting until closer to the conventions. Reform candidate Alan Keyes's While I Was Waiting at Gate 18 (Word), for example, won't be out until April at the earliest, and San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra J. Saunders's assessment of Al Gore, The World According to Gore (Encounter Books), isn't due until March. (The vice-president has written, with Joseph Kaufman, a similarly titled tome -- The World According to Al Gore: An A to Z Compilation of His Opinions, Positions, and Public Statements was published last month by Renaissance Books.) George Bush also takes some heat in Molly Ivins's first book that's not a collection of previously published columns. In Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush (Random House, Feb.)., Ivins (with Lou Dubose) offer their own unique read of George W. Softskull Press's edition of J.H. Hatfield's controversial book on George W. Bush, Fortunate Son, which it picked up after the book was dropped by St. Martin's in October (News, Oct. 25, Nov. 1), was released at the beginning of this month. In a new introduction, investigative reporter Toby Rogers and Nick Mamatas cite Michael Dannenhauer, ex-President Bush's chief of staff, who confirms Hatfield's assertion that George W. did in fact use cocaine during "lost weekends" in Mexico.
Asked what's selling best, John Heitzman, the new owner of Des Moines, Iowa's 30-year-old Book Store, replies without missing a beat: All the Best, George Bush (Scribner, Oct. 1999), George senior's collection of letters and diary entries. As for Bill Bradley, who lost in Iowa, "I did order one of those," Heitz remarks, "but I haven't sold any." Paul Ingram, buyer at Iowa City's Prairie Lights, reports a similar ennui when it comes to reading about the election. "If TV is covering it, we don't sell much of it," explains Ingram. "People in Iowa City keep their TV watching and their reading separate."
Barbara Meade, co-owner of the 15-year-old Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., adds, "Eight years ago we had a lot of political biographies of contenders and they sold. I just saw one of Bob Zelnick's [Gore : A Political Life, NBN, Apr. 1999)] sitting on the returns table. It's sad that you just don't have the interest in politics." A more optimistic Debra Williams, corporate communications at Barnes & Noble, predicts, "Once the field is solidified, we'll see more books and more interest."
What Every Voter Needs to Know
If many voters seem downright indifferent to the upcoming election, that's because they are. According to the League of Women Voters's Choosing the President; A Citizen's Guide to the 2000 Election (Lyons Press, Jan.), the U.S. has the lowest voter turnout of any democracy in the world, with the 1996 presidential election dipping to an all-time low of 49%. Even so, Lyons has not had to cast its marketing net far for the book, which represents one of the house's first forays outside of fly fishing. "We're actively trying to branch out, and we think this is a really good book and a really good time for it," says publicist Don Myers, adding that it has almost sold out its 50,000-copy first printing. "The book is one of our top sellers in Borders and Barnes & Noble."
Solid information on how the electoral process works is also available in The American Campaign: U.S. Presidential Campaigns and the National Vote, by James E. Campbell (Texas A&M, Apr.), The Road to the White House, 2000: The Politics of Presidential Elections, by Stephen J. Wayne (St. Martin's, Jan.), and Lawrence D. Longley and Neal R. Peirce's The Electoral College Primer 2000 (Yale, Oct. 1999).
Ignorance is no excuse when it comes to voting, says Meredith Bagby in We've Got Issues: The Get Real, No B.S., Guilt-Free Guide to What Really Matters (Public Affairs, June). A law student at Columbia University, Bagby gained national attention in 1995 when Ross Perot singled out her first book, which she wrote and published as a Harvard undergraduate, The First Annual Report of the United States of America. Associate editor Kate Darnton acknowledges that, given the nature of the book, "We're in a quandary here. We've been trying to market a book to people who aren't interested."
To try to capture the attention of Bagby's GenX peers, Public Affairs is doing three things, says Darnton. "One has been to keep the price low. The second is to make the jacket hip. And the third is to have a young writer talk to young people in their own language." In addition, the press is relying heavily on Web marketing -- not only a Web site for the book, but also banner ads on Salon and on government-oriented sites -- as well as "We've Got Issues" buttons and countertop displays.
For some commentators, the system itself is to blame for voter apathy, or so Jules Witcover, a columnist for theBaltimore Sun, concludes in No Way to Pick a President (FSG, Nov. 1999). For journalist Jeffrey Scheuer, the problem is the pervasive use of sound bites, especially for liberals. In The Sound Bite Society: Television and the American Mind (Four Walls, Oct. 1999), he contends that not only d s TV distort our view of reality, but that TV sound bites tend to promote right-wing causes. Senior editor JillEllyn Riley says that Four Walls deliberately published the book before the campaigns got under way, in order to generate conversation. The timing is working, because, she says, "We have a lot of paperback interest, and they're thinking presidential election: timely, timely, timely."
When it comes to the election, money is the root of all evil, according to Charles Lewis and the Center for Public Integrity. For the third election year in a row they have created a paperback original on big money, The Buying of the President: The Authoritative Guide to the Big-Money Interests Behind This Year's Presidential Candidates (Avon, Jan.).
For stores like the politically-oriented Midnight Special in Santa Monica, Calif., this book is a strong seller. Owner Margie Ghiz says that she has trouble keeping it and other critiques of the status quo -- like Christian Parenti's Lockdown America (Verso, Sept. 1999), on the American criminal justice system, or the anti-commercialism manifesto of "the new Tom Paine," Kalle Lasn, Culture Jam: The Uncooling of America (Eagle Brook, Nov. 1999) -- in stock. "People don't think political books sell," comments Ghiz, "but once you put it out there, people will buy it. Politics isn't just what Dan Rather gets up and talks about; it's what people's lives are."
State of the Union Address
Several books are built on Americans' general wariness of government. Garry Wills probes how this has affected the nation in A Necessary Evil: A History of American Distrust of Government (Simon & Schuster, Oct. 1999), while Major Garrett and Timothy J. Penny question election-year promises such as tax cuts in The 15 Biggest Lies in Politics (Griffin, Jan.).
Election year or no, a number of writers view the state of our union as a call to arms. Among the most vociferous are Arianna Huffington, author of How to Overthrow the Government (ReganBooks, Feb.), and BET host Tavis Smiley, who recently embarked on a 25-city, three-month tour to promote his book, Doing What's Right: How to Fight for What You Believe -- And Make a Difference. Prayer is the answer for religion publisher Harrison House, which brings together a set of prayers for the economy to schools in Pray for Our Nation (Feb.).
Leadership and the shift in the balance of power over the past five decades is a cause for concern on both the left and the right. Bob Woodward's bestselling Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate, which came out last summer, is scheduled to be reissued in paper by Touchstone in June. In Presidential Ambition: Gaining Power at Any Cost (HarperPerennial, Feb.), Richard Shenkman casts a cynical eye on presidencies, from George Washington to the Nixon administration. In a complementary book, David Gergen, editor-at-large for U.S. News & World Report, tackles presidents Nixon through Clinton in Eyewitness to Power (Simon & Schuster, Sept.).
British author Harry Bennett at the University of Plymouth, England, looks at the presidential legacy since World War II in The American Presidency 1945-1999 (Sutton Publishing, Sept.). For John Whitcomb and Claire Whitcomb, the personal is political. In their illustrated book on Real Life at the White House: 200 Years of Daily Life at America's Most Famous Residence (Routledge), they offer an anecdote-filled account of our nation's leaders. There are tidbits about every president, including Benjamin Harrison, who left the lights burning all night because he was afraid of being shocked by the newly installed light switches.
It's My Party
Many potentially hot-ticket election year books explore the legacies of both parties and the history of the "L" word. Journalist Nina J. Easton unburies the roots of today's conservatism in Playing to Win: How a New Generation of Conservative Leaders Reset the Political Agenda (Simon & Schuster, Aug.), a profile of '70s college students who became conservative leaders. New Criterion editors Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball pursue a somewhat different agenda, as they track The Betrayal of Liberalism: How the Disciples of Freedom and Equality Helped Foster the Illiberal Politics of C rcion and Control (Ivan R. Dee, Oct. 1999).
For journalist George Packer, liberalism is all in the family. In Blood of the Liberals (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Aug.), he traces his family's liberal heritage from the days when his grandfather was a populist congressman from Alabama through his father's tenure as dean at Stanford during the campus upheavals of the '60s.
Biographer Peter Collier, co-author with David Horowitz of books on The Roosevelts and The Kennedys, as well as co-editor of Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties, is more concerned about the underpinnings of conservatism. This year marks the debut of his San Francisco-based nonprofit press, Encounter Books. As publisher, Collier notes, "The idea here is to do the genres that I think are endangered -- public policy, social criticism, culture and history -- and biography, which is not endangered but interests me. I see this as an educational endeavor. The thing to do is to put these ideas into play and rely on the fact that ideas do percolate down into the culture."
Of course, mentions like the one George W. Bush gave Myron Magent's The Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties' Legacy to the Underclass (Jan.) didn't hurt sales. He called it the most important book he's read outside the Bible. Other books on Encounter's debut list include Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left by Ronald Radosh (Oct.) and Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preference (Mar.) by University of California Regent Ward Connerly, who ended affirmative action.
Being conservative d sn't mean being a conformist, as gay Republican leaders Rich Tafel and Peter Robinson point out. Tafel, who was executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, gained notoriety during the 1996 presidential race when Bob Dole first accepted, then rejected, the group's donation to his campaign. His Party Crasher: A Gay Republican Challenges Politics as Usual (Simon & Schuster, June 1999) discusses political strategies for gays and lesbians.
In It's My Party: A Republican's Messy Love Affair with the GOP (Warner, Apr.), Peter Robinson, the host of PBS's Uncommon Knowledge, offers an amused perspective on the questions facing his party of choice. According to publisher Jamie Raab, the reasons for doing a book like Robinson's aren't political. "We've worked with this author before [on Snapshots from Hell: The Making of an MBA], and we like his voice. We don't do a lot of political books, because they tend to be hardcovers that don't translate into soft, and we like to do both. This book is very, very entertaining, and it offers an interesting view not just of the election but of what happened after." Although Warner plans to make Robinson available for comment on the election and to advertise during the conventions, "our thrust," Raab says, "is not this election."
Getting to Yes: How to Resolve the Issues Facing the Nation
Other books that publishers hope will continue to be sought long after the last vote is counted focus on issues. Crime -- and how to stop it -- has been a campaign constant for more than a decade. In Actual Innocence (Doubleday, Feb.), civil rights attorneys Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, who founded and direct the Innocence Project, and New York Daily News columnist Jim Dwyer describe their efforts to use DNA testing to free innocent people sent to prison and death row. The book will have a 75,000-copy first printing and the authors will do a 20-city tour. In an unusual publicity coup, publication will coincide with the authors' introduction of a bill in Congress concerning DNA testing on death row.
Keith Arsenault, promotions manager of Brown University Bookstore in Providence, R.I., finds Actual Innocence to be precisely the kind of political book that the campus rallies around. "In general here," explains Arsenault, "political books don't do that well. The campus is political in terms of issues, but in terms of this presidential election, it's not."
Some booksellers, like Ned Densmore, co-owner of The Village Book Store in Littleton, N.H., take a more proactive approach to the election. "The New Hampshire landscape," he tells PW, "is colored by the surging campaigns for the candidates." The McCain autobiography and the audio of Al Gore's Earth in the Balance occupy prominent positions in Densmore's Primary (soon to be Election) Section, while what he refers to as "Washington stuff," or everything else, is shelved on the bottom. Once the actual election gets into full swing, he says, "the section will just have a change in complexion and get more to the issues."
For booksellers who seek what Densmore refers to as "thoughtful writers," there will be many new offerings this season. Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele explain why the rich get richer in The Great American Tax Dodge (Little, Brown, Aug.), while attorney/activist Jeff Gates deems the current economic boom a mirage in Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street from Wall Street (Perseus, May).
Patrick J. Michaels and Robert C. Balling Jr. decry those who claim "the sky is falling" in The Satanic Gases: Clearing the Air About Global Warming (Cato Institute, May), while filmmaker and Rolling Stone contributor Mike Gray offers a vote of no confidence in the nation's war against drugs in Drug Crazy: How We Got into This Mess and How We Can Get Out (Routledge, Apr.). Robert Kagan and William Kristol focus on America's foreign policy in a collection of essays on Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy (Encounter, Apr.).
Not surprisingly, issue-oriented political books seem to adhere to one of the basic laws of physics: for every issue there's an equal and opposite point of view espoused in a book. But do people want to read them? Craig Herman at HarperCollins believes "There will always be a place on Harper's list for good, strong political and news-making books. If they have a media platform, then all the better."
That platform, at least for Amazon.com, is what it takes to transform instant bestsellers, or what nonfiction editor Ron Hogan refers to as "the scandal book du jour," into titles that last after the last vote is counted. "The main thing with a lot of these books is it often boils down to, Are you going to get it on CNN? For conservative books, Did Rush mention it, or Did Imus mention it? For other books it's, Was the author on NPR? It's a very circular process."
Predicting which political books will sell the best this election year is almost harder than guessing who will win the election. But one thing's for sure: as long as publishers keep issuing thoughtful titles, booksellers will keep offering them and -- hopefully -- customers will keep buying them.
Back To Features
Sock It to Me -- Political Humor
It may seem oxymoronic to pair humor and politics, but as presidential write-in candidate Pat Paulsen showed Laugh-In viewers a few decades back, the two topics do mix -- it's just that genuine comedians never get elected. Following the Paulsen tradition, TV personality Al Franken puts tongue firmly in cheek, running on a platform of free ATMs. In Why Not Me?: The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency, which has just been reissued in paperback by Delta, Franken adds a new afterword on the real presidential race.
Mondo 2000 magazine cyberwarrior R.U. Sirius, a write-in candidate, puts forth his own unusual platform in The Revolution: Quotations from Revolution Party Chairman R.U. Sirius (Feral House, Mar.), with an introduction by Andrei Codrescu. According to Feral publisher Adam Parfrey, "Sirius's candidacy is sort of like the Hillary candidacy -- declared but undeclared," and like candidates of every stripe, Sirius has his own Web site, the-revolution.org/. For Parfrey, the medium is the message, and the house has done its best to make Sirius's book stand out. "The format is a big thing," says Parfrey. "It's being printed in Hong Kong, and everything -- the PVC cover, the ribbon, the nonprinting on the cover -- will be just like Chairman Mao's Little Red Book."
Talk-show host Jim Hightower, who calls himself "an agitator -- the centerpost in a washing machine that gets the dirt out," takes a very funny look at the upcoming election in If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates: More Political Subversion from Jim Hightower (HarperCollins, Feb.). Clearly a man who puts his all into his book titles, Hightower is also the author of There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Lines and Dead Armadillos.
If campaign 2000 sometimes seems like so much sleight of hand, there's a book, or sideline, for that, too. In December, Action Publishing in Glendale, Calif., brought out a new edition of Politicards 2000; even if the politicians don't always seem to be playing with a full deck, Politicards certainly is -- 54 playing cards feature everyone's election-year favorites, from Dan Quayle (the nine of spades) to Rudy Giuliani (jack of clubs) and Mark Russell (the Joker). All the personalities on both sides of the political fence are here, including the woman in the Gap dress. Action publisher Michael Meltzer first brought out the cards in 1996 and sold 200,000 decks. The most popular regions for the cards were Sacramento, Calif., where one store sold 5,000 decks in 1996, and Washington, D.C. This time, Meltzer says, "We're looking to sell a million decks." So far, he only has another 900,000 to go, after selling out of the first printing.