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TV stars put Quayle down and out in Beverly Hills

THEY would not have laughed much harder if Dan Quayle had arrived dressed like Roseanne Arnold, who wore a blinding red low-cut leather-bodiced gown, which she complemented by permanently chewing gum.

Time and again, the Vice-President was made the butt of jokes at the 1992 Emmy Awards, television's version of the Oscars, as Hollywood avenged his attack on it for cultural elitism. There were three awards for Murphy Brown, the show which Mr Quayle criticised for eroding family values after the main character opted to have a baby out of wedlock.

Candice Bergen, who plays the character in question, accepted an Emmy for outstanding actress in a comedy series by thanking Mr Quayle, and, to hoots of jewel-rattling mirth, paying tribute to her writers 'for not only writing these great words (in the script) but spelling them correctly'. One half-expected a trophy for the small boy whom Mr Quayle chided for failing to spell potato with an 'e'. The Vice-President had better learn to spell potato properly, warned Dennis Miller, one of the show's hosts - 'if the economy keeps going the way it is, that's all we'll be eating'.

As ever, one can't help feeling that Mr Quayle must recently have walked under a long line of ladders. The Emmys, broadcast to 56 countries, coincided with newspaper reviews of a bundle of new pre-election publications about the Vice-President, including The Dan Quayle Diktionary, ('I'm only a heartbeet' away, says the cover), and Dan Quayle: Airhead Apparent. Esquire magazine has waded in with a page of Quayle trivia, which includes his father recalling that his son's 'main interests in school were broads and booze'.

But the Vice-President can take some comfort. He has his sympathisers - about two dozen protesters outside the Emmy ceremony stood behind a banner that read 'Stop Promoting Sin' and 'Stop TV Scum'. Others are more picked on than him. Statisticians monitoring late-night talk shows in the United States say there have been 159 Quayle jokes this year, placing him third behind President Bush (first) and Bill Clinton, his Democratic rival.

After all, it was President Bush, not Mr Quayle, who said: 'I have opinions of my own - strong opinions - but I don't always agree with them.'