In America: Bloggers debunk Drudge's 'Groundhog Day' scoop

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The Independent Online

* The right-wing website the Drudge Report had a nice little scoop, or so it seemed, when it told the story of Phil Parlock of West Virginia, who said supporters of vice presidential candidate John Edwards set upon him and tore up the pro-Bush banner he was carrying at a recent Democratic Party rally.

* The right-wing website the Drudge Report had a nice little scoop, or so it seemed, when it told the story of Phil Parlock of West Virginia, who said supporters of vice presidential candidate John Edwards set upon him and tore up the pro-Bush banner he was carrying at a recent Democratic Party rally.

Mr Parlock's three-year-old daughter was reduced to tears. "They just pounced on us," said Mr Parlock, after the rally in the town of Huntingdon.

It seems that Mr Parlock has had terrible luck at political rallies. Indeed various bloggers have revealed the same fate apparently befell the unfortunate Mr Parlock during both the 1996 and 2000 presidential campaigns.

In August 1996, the Charleston Daily Mail reported how Mr Parlock "said he was knocked to the ground by a Clinton supporter when he tried to display a sign that read 'Remember Vince Foster', the deputy White House counsel who committed suicide".

In October 2000, the same paper reported how Mr Parlock said he was roughed up by Democrats at a rally in support of Al Gore. Is Mr Parlock just plain unlucky? Who knows. But your diarist wonders why he keeps going to Democratic rallies with a pro-Republican banner and why he is so willing to take his three-year-old daughter if he is expecting trouble?

* IT'S NOT your diarist's habit to steal wholesale from others, but a recent unsubstantiated rumour from the gossipy wonkette.com website is too delightful to let pass.

The President's twin daughters, Barbara, above left, and Jenna are apparently planning to rent an apartment in the upmarket Georgetown district with some Republican friends .

The ladies, known to enjoy a good night out, reportedly find getting a taxi back to the White House after a few drinks too much trouble.

As I said, it's just an unsubstantiated rumour. But the flat, supposedly rented until January, is reportedly near the sleazy Smith's Point bar.

* IS WASHINGTON, where 63 per cent of the population is black, one of the most divided cities on Earth?

Pandora asks after eavesdropping on a neighbouring table at a swanky Russian restaurant last week at which one of the women diners - white, aged in her 40s, perusing the selection of expensive vodkas - announced loudly that she "could not imagine" how voters in the city's ward 8 had re-elected former mayor Marion Barry as their council representative.

Had the diner bothered to visit ward 8, which encompasses the down-at-heel, crime-ridden, overwhelmingly black district of Anacostia, she might have got an answer.

"He is the man," J Shepard, a 61-year-old resident, told USA Today , after Mr Barry's victory last week. "He has always been for the struggling people."

* THE ACTOR George Clooney has learned how rough politics can be while campaigning for his dad, Nick.

Clooney was last night due to attend a fundraiser in Washington for his father, who is running as a Democratic congressional candidate for Kentucky.

Advance information on the event at Lounge 201 on Capitol Hill said entry was $100 to $2,500. But the Clooneys have taken some flak from Republican rival, Geoff Davis, whose campaign said it was hypocritical for them to travel out of town for fundraisers after scoffing at the appearance of Mr Davis at the Republican convention in New York.

Clooney Snr's spokesman, B J Neidhardt, countered: "Nick's son is helping him raise money whereas Geoff Davis is having special interests in Washington raise money for him."

* Intriguing news about New York's notoriously rude population. The New York Times decided to recreate a famous experiment first carried out 30 years ago by students of Dr Stanley Milgram.

Back then, the students were tasked with asking passengers on the city's subway to give up their seats. Some 68 per cent did so without question.

When the Times repeated the experiment, it discovered an even higher percentage of passengers - 13 out 15 - gave up their seats.

What, Pandora wonders, would be the outcome if some brave soul were to try to recreate this during the rush hour on the Northern Line? Any volunteers?

pandora@independent.co.uk

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