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Original Issue

The GOP's King Maker

That was the Democrats' convention? Pbbbbbbbt. Not impressed.
Duller than Al Gore's underwear drawer. Do you know why?

Because the Democrats lack the secret weapon of this election,
the one guy who can bring this country together again, the
surefire deal-sealer only the Republicans have.

No, not Florida governor Jeb Bush.

Don King!

King and his Viagra hair and his Eveready tongue have been going
around the country with Republican National Committee chairman Ed
Gillespie, trying to corral more African-American voters for
President Bush.

Yes, that Don King! The guy with the hair that looks as if it's
trying to flee his brain as soon as possible! The boxing boss who
once said, so movingly, "I have gone from the guttermost to the

O.K., so maybe you don't think it's so smart to have the
President officially endorsed by a man who's killed two men and
done four years in the slam. But don't forget--one of those
killings was in self-defense and the other wound up as
manslaughter. And keep in mind, that second guy owed him $600.

And maybe it makes your hair stand on end that the President has
a guy stumping for him who's been investigated by three separate
grand juries. But as King put it in 1999, "Indictment is my
middle name. This is America, man. Catching has to come before

And is he appreciative of not being hanged? Very much so! After
one jury acquitted him of insurance fraud in 1998, he took them
and their families to the Bahamas! Now that's a uniter!

And maybe if you were the President, you wouldn't be so knocked
out to get the backing of a former numbers runner who was
questioned by a Senate committee investigating a possible link to
mobster John Gotti in 1992, who was a target of an FBI sting
operation in '99 and who has been sued by a host of fighters he's
represented, including Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and, last week by
IBF heavyweight champ Chris Byrd, for $63 million.

But it's like Larry Holmes once said, "I make more money with Don
King stealing from me than [I would getting] 100 percent from
other promoters."

People, you can't buy that kind of testimonial.

So King has been stumping in places like Detroit, New York City
and Cleveland, calling Bush "the man with the plan." He is the
promoter of the black voter! He's bringing souls to the polls! He
wants truth in the booth!

King calls himself a "Republocrat." A guy who makes up his own
words? You know he's a good fit for Bush, who has
single-mouthedly added securitize, insticated and embetterment to
the language. Together, maybe they can insticate the embetterment
of this country--and that would securitize all of us.

And you know President Bush supports this because he doesn't let
just any ex-con go romping around with his party chairman. And
does it bother Bush that his own brother, Governor Jeb, had to
fire the executive secretary of Florida's state athletic
commission in 1999 because the secretary accepted a $100,000
donation from King--and then, with a push from King, tried to get
the commission to reverse its policy of excluding long-term
contracts between promoters and fighters? No, it doesn't. Am I my
brother's morals-keeper? No, I'm not.

Hey, don't judge King by what he does, judge him by what he
wears. At a speech he gave in Miami in mid-July, he wore a
red-white-and-blue tie and a jacket that had a picture of Bush
sewn onto it. On the sleeves were diamond studs that spelled out
the united states. No wonder Republican National Committee
spokeswoman Tara Wall calls King "a patriot."

That same night King got fans so stirred up they began chanting,
"Four more years!" And we're pretty sure they were talking about
four more for Bush in the White House and not four more for King
in the Big House.

Six weeks earlier in Philadelphia, King had stood with Gillespie
and asked, "Where have you seen a Republican chairman standing up
with us in the heart of the ghetto?" And nobody much quibbled
that a swanky downtown Philadelphia jazz club was maybe not quite
the heart of the ghetto. After all, King is 72 now and maybe his
eyesight isn't so good anymore, except for the fine print.

For his part Gillespie said that bringing King on the Bush
campaign trail is "98 percent upside," and many boxers will tell
you that's a perfect number to use since that is often King's
take of a fighter's purse.

Of course, if Bush loses, King will accept defeat. If he is one
thing, besides bank-breakingly rich, it's flexible. Remember the
time in 1973 when King climbed into the ring rubbing the
shoulders of Joe Frazier and then, after George Foreman laid
Frazier out like a carp, stepped over him to raise the hand of
Foreman, his new best friend?

If Bush loses, expect to see a certain Republocrat holding
Kerry's hand in the air as the new champ.

Hey, a patriot never knows when he's going to need a pardon.

If you have a comment for Rick Reilly, send it to


As he stumps for the President, Don King is the promoter of the
black voter! He's bringing souls to the polls!