HIGHTOWER: Bob Dole: Marlboro Man

There's a new Marlboro Man riding-in from Kansas straight for the White House. With his craggy face and a pocketfull of smokes, this mysterious new Marlboro Man is none other than: Bob Dole."Tobacco Bob," they call him in Washington, where he's become chief wrangler for the industry that kills half-a-million Americans every year with its addictive products -- including the original Marlboro Man. In its latest issue, Mother Jones magazine documents the extraordinary partnership between Big Tobacco and "Tobacco Bob." He's engineered a $250-million special tax break for the industry, he's halted Senate investigations of efforts to boost nicotine levels in cigarettes and he's used his position as majority leader to oppose FDA plans to stop tobacco sales to our children. Now, as the Republican candidate for president, Dole has promised the tobacco giants that he will fire FDA head David Kessler and put-in someone more sympathetic to them.To keep Bob "smokin'" the tobacco companies have given Dole $330,000 in campaign contributions so far, plus indirectly funding his campaign by putting $2.4 million into the Republican Party's campaign saddlebags. RJ Reynolds has also donated half-a-million dollars to sponsor the Republican Convention that will nominate the old cowpoke for president in August. And when they're not giving him cash, they're giving him a ride -- U.S. Tobacco has served as Dole's trusty horse, providing its corporate jet to take him wherever he wants to go."Tobacco Bob's" sidekicks get-in on the action too -- his former chief-of-staff, who now chairs "Lawyers for Dole," is a Washington lobbyist whose firm represents RJ Reynolds, Philip Morris and other tobacco giants.Yipeee-Ti-Yi-Yo, Git Along Little Dolie! To learn more about "Tobacco Bob," lasso a copy of this month's Mother Jones magazine.

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