In an effort to diffuse White House slumber parties as an issue in the New York Senate race, First Lady Hillary Clinton said she would release a list of people who have slept over at her and the president's invitation. I spent the week increasingly nervous that my name would not be on it, and sure enough...it is not. What is going on in our nation's capital? There's only so much time left for the First Couple to curry favor with me through naps in the Lincoln bedroom and tokes on the president's cigars, and they are heedlessly letting it slip by.
Novell chief Eric Schmidt apparently doesn't share my political clubfoot. His talent to schmooze the high and mighty is the subject of an occasional Silicon Valley rumor that surfaced again in the aftermath of Schmidt's swanky fundraiser this week for Democratic presidential hopeful Vice President Al Gore.
Skinvited guests say a few hundred Valley luminaries lit up Schmidt's Atherton estate, including all the usual suspects (John Doerr, Kim Polese, Regis McKenna). They further note that Schmidt has made every effort to cozy up to the Veep, attending the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles earlier this summer and generally popping up whenever Gore is in the area.
Schmidt may find high-level politicking considerably more enjoyable than wrestling with the struggling high-tech company he runs. After a brief renaissance, the software company--once a fierce rival to Microsoft--has once again fallen prey to unfulfilled expectations.
This week's Atherton love fest, by contrast, surpassed expectations, raising $25,000 a plate for the Democratic National Committee and featuring a performance by Elton John. Was Schmidt singing "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" to his Novell colleagues?
"Eric Schmidt does not have any political aspirations whatsoever," insisted a Novell representative. "He is conversant with the role of public policy and high technology and understands the relevance to Novell's business--that it can have a direct impact on our business."
True, Schmidt would make an unlikely figure in a Gore administration, seeing as how Novell has lavished its donations on the Democrats and Republicans alike...
Inside Upside aside
Speaking of cryptic relationships, readers of Upside magazine are treated in this month's issue to a tough-as-nails, muckraking interview with venture capital ace Tim Draper, the author of a controversial voucher initiative on California's November ballot that has torn Silicon Valley's new crop of education reformers asunder.
Draper, who regularly tames the lions of market whim and technological caprice and is now waging a nearly single-handed war on behalf of his beleaguered ballot measure, underwent the third degree from Upside editor in chief Jerry Borrell with aplomb. Among the interrogative bullets he dodged:
How did you become involved with a statewide initiative to create vouchers for education? And that got you all charged up about changing education? What are charters? Would you ever consider running for House or Senate?
Ammonia Blossom, the Rumor Mill's resident media critic, entered my office holding the interview between thumb and forefinger at a distance from her body.
"Why the sour face?" I asked.
"For one thing, the whole interview reads like it was written by the Draper campaign," Ammonia replied. "For another, there's no disclosure that Tim Draper's on the Upside board of directors!"
Everyone's a critic! Meanwhile, in the interest of full disclosure, you should know that Ammonia is a student at Herbert Hoover Middle School, a public institution of local renown, and a fervent opponent of vouchers. And CNET Networks, which keeps me in cigars while the president fails to do so, sort of competes with Upside. Let that be a lesson to you all. If you send me your rumors, I won't disclose a single word about you.