Pair of trousers reduces US campaign to farce

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The Independent US

Is the American presidential campaign turning into a spoof? Suddenly the candidates seem to be consumed with an alleged affair of political espionage featuring moles, a bootleg videotape and a pair of trousers.

Is the American presidential campaign turning into a spoof? Suddenly the candidates seem to be consumed with an alleged affair of political espionage featuring moles, a bootleg videotape and a pair of trousers.

It all began on 13 September, when the tape arrived at the Washington office of Tom Downey, a former congressman hired by the Democrats to prepare Al Gore for his television debates with George W Bush. The tape showed the Texas governor in his own debate rehearsal.

The envelope had an Austin, Texas, postmark, suggestingsomebody inside the Bush camp had sent the tape to the other side to damage the governor. He forwarded it to the FBI, which opened an investigation. It was then that the Republicans seized upon the only decent explanation. The dastardly Gore people had a mole in their headquarters. But who could this thieving traitor be?

That is for the FBI to find out. For a moment, though, it thought it had cracked it. Somehow it managed to find closed-circuit camera footage of a woman named Yvette Lozano posting a large package in an Austin post office on 11 September. Nabbed! Ms Lozano works in the office of an advertising firm working for Mr Bush.

Ms Lozano has reason to feel aggrieved. Posting a package is not normally a matter for criminal suspicion, especially when the contents happen to be a pair of trousers that her boss had asked her to return.

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