John McCain released an ad last week saying Barack Obama doesn’t have the experience to lead.

To run the point home, his producers told us of Obama’s “celebrity” status, likening him to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Cheap shot for sure. We’ll see many more from both sides.

Geraldo Rivera chimed in on Fox News, “This is going to be an explosive campaign.”

He used his experience as crack reporter and sometimes-getting-bashed-in-the-face talk show host to tell me this.

Well, some lowly McCain fact-checker didn’t notice that Paris’ parents gave $4,600 to his cause.

It was a mistake. McCain makes them, Obama makes them. We all make them.

But to me, it was pretty scary the Hiltons only gave $4,600.
Isn’t that like 3 cents for the rest of us? Don’t these people have money?

Aren’t they supposed to be rich? Did the price of caviar go up?

Over the weekend, a friend told me he thought $4,600 is the maximum you can give to a campaign. So if that’s true, sorry Hiltons for ripping on you.

But back in 1980, none of this mattered. My dad, primarily known as a college chemistry teacher, published some papers on what was then a new type of energy: geothermal geopressure.

The U.S. Energy Department picked up on them, and he was asked to speak at a conference in Denver.

We checked into a Hilton Hotel, before anyone knew or cared about Britney Spears or Paris.

Many of us still don’t care, except for the National Enquirer. Obama was a student at Columbia University then, and McCain was still in the Navy.

As we got the grand tour, and my dad gave his speech, Mount St. Helens wanted to erupt.

Which finally did, killing many people.

Shortly in Denver, volcanic ash covered the roads, trees and cars outside the window.

It didn’t look like snow, but covered the terrain as such.
Just black, and all over the news.

People, nowhere at first, scooped it up in small viles to send to loved ones, scribbling, “I survived Mount St. Helens.”

The Hiltons did well that year, but it was bad for the rest of us.
The Iranian hostage saga went on, John Lennon got shot in New York and I had my first and last bottle of Boone’s Farm Wine.

The plus side: Britney and Paris weren’t there.

And it was a real, real good thing.

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