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Whitewater poster child Susan McDougal spent a year and a half in prison rather than answer questions from independent counsel Kenneth Starr. She received a last-day presidential pardon from the target of Mr. Starr's probe and now she's cashing in on her experience-sort of. Mrs. McDougal's book advance is a far cry from Hillary Rodham Clinton's $8 million; Carroll & Graf Publishers reports that Mrs. McDougal's is a five-figure deal for a book due out in 2003. That's the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Whitewater saga and the McDougal book, a Carroll & Graf publicist tells WORLD, will discuss her battles with "Starr and his minions."

Missouri Republican Jim Talent now has a 4-point lead over Sen. Jean Carnahan, the Democratic incumbent, according to a new poll released by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Mr. Talent is also gaining fundraising momentum, raking in $1.33 million in the first quarter, compared with Mrs. Carnahan's $1.27 million.

A new poll shows Republican Bill Simon has narrowed the gap to just 6 points against Gov. Gray Davis, the incumbent Democrat, even before President Bush arrived in California to help Mr. Simon raise $4.5 million. This contradicts a flurry of recent reports that Gov. Davis was pulling away decisively. Gov. Davis now leads Mr. Simon 46 percent to 40 percent, according to the survey of 600 likely California voters commissioned by the Republican Leadership Council. An April Field Poll terrified GOP strategists by showing their man down by a whopping 14 points (43-29). President Bush, Mr. Simon, and their wives flew together on Air Force One to the campaign swing in Silicon Valley where the president previewed his themes for the fall elections: winning the war against terrorism, cutting taxes and spurring economic recovery and global trade, and reforming education. Mr. Bush also reemphasized his "compassionate conservative" theme, using the word compassion 16 times in his half-hour speech.

Linda Chavez just finished her memoir, due out in October from Basic Books. It traces her transformation from liberal union member to conservative Republican and, as she puts it, "the most hated Hispanic in America." She also examines how unions are trying to radically reshape the political agenda, and targeted her nomination to be Bush's Labor Secretary last year for destruction. Will she also criticize the Bush administration? "There's plenty in the book about my ordeal last year," Mrs. Chavez tells WORLD. "But it's also a look at the process that led to being selected for a Cabinet position in the first place."

The National Republican Congressional Committee is circulating a new video touting new signs of GOP strength in the battle to keep the U.S. House (see WORLD's cover story, "Househunting," p. 18). Rep. Heather Wilson, the New Mexico Republican targeted for defeat by Rep. Dick Gephardt and his advisers, appears increasingly well poised to retain her seat. President Bush visited Albuquerque to help her raise more than $400,000, and polls show Ms. Wilson leading her opponent 56 percent to 29 percent. Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris has already raised more than $1 million in her race and appears headed to a decisive victory in Florida's 13th Congressional District. The battle to replace the scandal-tarred Rep. Gary Condit is now neck and neck. Despite a recently redrawn congressional district favorable to Democrats, the newest poll finds Democrat Dennis Cardoza with 41 percent, while Republican Dick Monteith has 38 percent.

When President Bush heard about The Rookie-a new, pro-family, G-rated film about a high-school science teacher who tries out as a pitcher in the major leagues-he invited actor Dennis Quaid, Disney chief Michael Eisner, and the film's director over to the White House for a movie night.