The Eyeball Network is defending itself against another black eye: Questions surrounding the validity of a "60 Minutes" report on George W. Bush's frequent absences from duty with a Crime Watch group in his Texas neighborhood years ago. The report, which aired recently on the network's newsmagazine, further purports that the President relied on political favors during that time to attain a senior position in a local volunteer fire auxiliary to avoid crime watch duty.
Former National Citizens' Crime Prevention Campaign CEO and spokesdog McGruff notes in documents obtained by CBS that Bush frequently was AWOL from crime watch duty. The pooch further states in print that influence by Texas politicos was exerted to "sugar coat" Bush's record and place him in an honorary figurehead post with a local V.F.D.
At issue are the paw prints in the memos, which the dog used in lieu of signatures. While McGruff was a bloodhound, document experts liken the prints to that of a cocker spaniel. McGruff was destroyed after contacting rabies in 1998.
Rather says his staff worked hard to verify the documents, adding staffers toiled "harder than day old bread in Siberia." He noted that dealing with the controversy has been "as frustrating as downloading a Paris Hilton video with a dial up connection."
Senator John Kerry, recently defeated by Bush in the national Presidential sweepstakes, refused to speak about the report. He did, however, furnish this publication with records that appear to show he has frequently reported for duty with a crime watch group in his Boston neighborhood. On occasions that Kerry had to be in Washington, D.C. on Senate business, he said that his wife dispatched Heinz company employees to fill in for him.
"You'd think that Dan Rather would have better things to do than pester me, like thinking up new homespun metaphors, whatever metaphors are," the President said. "Of course I refute the charges. McGruff is a friend of mine. Lookie there in this article right here on the internets. There's a picture of me and him. See? Okay then!"
Bush went on to explain that when wealthy friends purchased the Texas Rangers baseball club for him to run, he considered signing free agent first baseman Fred McGriff, nicknamed "The Crime Dog." "You think I'd do that if I wasn't serious about taking a bite out of crime'?" he noted.
Whatever the outcome, documentarian Michael Moore claims to have further proof of Bush absences, also supplied by McGruff, which he will reveal in an upcoming film, "Fahrenhound 411." CBS, meanwhile, is hoping to ride out the controversy by replacing "60 Minutes" and "60 Minutes II" on its schedule with reruns of "dr. vegas" until the pressure dies down.