Vice President Al Gore took his campaign to cut government waste to late-night television Wednesday, trading quips and breaking ashtrays with "Late Show" host David Letterman.
The vice president took a few jibes from Letterman and made some of his own jokes about his reputation for being wooden.He even had his own Top 10 list on the best things about being vice president. (See box at right.)
For an administration that campaigned on MTV, the Gore visit seemed to fit right in.
Like any good talk-show host, Letterman exchanged a few jokes with Gore and then let his guest make his plug, in this case the need to cut government waste.
Gore brought two ashtrays and read the complex federal regulations on how government-purchased ashtrays must break when dropped.
"This is a designer ashtray because the taxpayers have paid lots of people to specify everything about this, including the testing procedure," Gore said.
He and Letterman then took turns breaking the ashtrays with a hammer. "I know you break ties in the Senate, I didn't know about this," Letterman said.
Gore repeated his themes in the program to cut more than $100 billion waste, saying that the government can, like Detroit's auto-makers, transform itself and do a better job.
"Ten years ago, if somebody had said that in 1993 our car companies will be making the highest-quality cars in the world, most people would have said that can't be done. But they're really doing it."
"We're trying to apply those lessons to the federal government," he said.
Letterman, never at a loss for a joke, responded: "How much did that study cost? Couple hundred billion?"
"No, no, no," Gore said. "One of the things that's different about it (from previous such drives), we did it completely with federal employees."
Letterman noted that Gore was the first high official ever on his show, saying the only similar previous case was an 11-year-old who had mistakenly been elected mayor of a town.
Gore's Top 10
Gore's topic was "the Top 10 good things about being vice president."
10. Police escorts get you to the movies faster.
9. I got to play tetherball with the inventor of tetherball.
8. After they sign a bill, there's lots of free pens.
7. If you close your left eye, the seal on the podium reads: President of the United States.
6. I get intellectual property rights to my speeches.
5. Dan Quayle and Gerald Ford are easy to beat during vice presidents week on Jeopardy.
4. You don't have to be funny to get invited on the Letterman show.
3. You get all the french fries the president can't get to.
2. You don't have to be a good speller to get the job.
1. Secret Service code name: Buttafuoco.