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Nader's Traitors 

VP candidate unsafe in any debate.

The Naderites are supposed to lay siege to evil corporations -- but let's face it, mucking up national elections is Priority One.

That explains why Peter Camejo, the lower half of Ralph Nader's quixotic ticket, ditched a commitment to attend an untelevised, third-party debate at Baldwin-Wallace College in favor of sounding off to ABC News and CNN about being locked out of the Big Show: Cheney vs. Edwards.

Unfortunately for Camejo, he seems to lack name and face recognition. When he showed up at Case for his close-up, Secret Service guards blocked his path. Camejo didn't have credentials, and they didn't know him from Adam.

This has the spoiled members of the spoiler party crying conspiracy.

"I find it impossible that they didn't know who Peter Camejo was," huffs Michael Levin, a local Nader organizer.

Levin also unloaded some righteous indignation on the media organizations Camejo had been courting. "All they had to do was walk outside with the camera [to do the interview], and they didn't do that," raged Levin. "They made Peter look like an asshole."

Actually, the rest of the third-party universe, back at B-W, thinks Camejo did a pretty good job of that on his own. They had a lively three-way debate before a crowd of about 400. And when Camejo called to say that he was on his way for the finale, debate organizer Chris Glassburn told him, "Thanks, but no thanks."

Live from Cleveland, it's Saturday Night!

You never know when you'll meet a closet fan of Cuyahoga-based comedy. Apparently, there are a few hiding behind the scenes at Saturday Night Live.

Our Kent-State-educated comedy homeboys, Last Call Cleveland, have been circulating a skit they call "Escalator!" in which characters find themselves stranded when the stairs stop moving. During the October 1 SNL premiere, an identical sketch aired, starring Ben Affleck and Horatio Sanz in place of Last Call's Chad Zumock and Jef Etters. Just like Last Call, SNL got laughs from a melodramatic rescue sequence and from the sublimely superfluous detail of a woman in labor.

Marc Liepis, senior director of late night at NBC, says, "Comedy ideas are few and far between." He chalked it up to coincidence.

Here's another coincidence: Last Call's "Escalator!" was recently screened at both Second City Chicago and Improv Olympic West in L.A. The writers behind the SNL escalator sketch are from Second City Chicago, and one was seen at Improv Olympic West around the time of the screenings.

Directed to a web video of the Last Call sketch, SNL "writer" John Lutz reacted thus: "Holy crap! This is crazy!" Yeah, crazy like a thief.

Note to Lorne Michaels: Don't bother calling in the lawyers. Last Call comes cheap. Cast member Chad Zumock has officially opened the negotiations. "I really would like a tour of the studio," he says. "Or a Best Of DVD . . . or one night with Amy Poehler."

To see their sketch, go to www.lastcallcleveland.com, then to the download section, soon to be labeled "Next Week's SNL."

SimCandidate

Politicians are often pilloried for changing their opinions in the face of public opinion polls (we're looking at you, John Kerry), but one congressional challenger has taken it a step further by letting the public manage his campaign for a day.

The politician in question is Jeff Seemann, who's running against well-heeled Republican incumbent Ralph Regula in the 16th congressional district, which includes Canton. Seemann gained traction in the race by using the internet ["The Soul of the New Machine," August 25] and wanted to reward his out-of-state donors by giving them a voice in his campaign.

"If you're investing in a company, you like to have some say on what happens to that company," says campaign manager Mike Chaney. "There's thousands of people out there who have great ideas, and it's a fantastic opportunity to be able to tap into that."

Seemann launched an internet poll last week that gave participants a chance to dictate his campaign schedule for the following day. Should Seemann work the phones to raise cash or visit a local unemployment office to talk to voters? Website visitors could decide with a mouse click.

More than 1,200 votes later, Seemann set out on a punishing schedule of handshaking and baby-kissing from 6 a.m. to midnight. His only respite was in the early evening, when a visit to the Stark County Democrats dinner was narrowly beat by "Tuck daughter Charlotte into bed."

The stunt proved a publicity bonanza after it was picked up by the Associated Press, earning mentions on the ABC News website as well as in the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Herald, and Newsday. But though the gimmick proved a success, Chaney isn't concerned that he'll be replaced as campaign manager by an American Idol-style voting system. "I don't think there's much danger of that," he says.

Hate male of the week

A gentleman reader, objecting to a column in which Scene Editor Pete Kotz questioned the manliness of George W. Bush, suggested, "You are the real pussy you liberal fucking prick . . . go fuck yourself."

High rise

If the downtown-housing market is a war, Bridgeview Apartments seems to be fighting with chemical weapons: THC.

Located at 1300 West 9th Street, just a stoner's throw from Scene's office, Bridgeview's entrance showed a couple pots of plants -- some clover, a few marigolds, and a fine arrangement of cannabis, thriving in the mists wafting up from the Cuyahoga. Looks to Punch like a strain from the upper Yucatan Peninsula that should make for a real mellow high.

Incentives like that could spell doom for Bridgeview's competitors. Reserve Square apartments will generally match any offer their rivals make with up to two months of free rent or limited free parking. However, when asked whether they would throw in some ganja for their renters, they rudely dismissed the idea. "I don't believe that we would offer free marijuana as an incentive," says Reserve Square's front desk manager, totally killing Punch's buzz. "It's illegal."

Loud bangs on Bridgeview's front door were met with "Dave's not here, man."

Actually, a manager did speak to Punch, but she was strangely modest on the subject of the chronic promotion: "This is somebody's idea of a joke." Cue stoner giggle.

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