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contributors.” Over the last few years, she had been aware that a new wave of political outrage was rising in the country, but only when she started to write the book’s introduction did she recognize her own anger. “When I read it over I was really amazed. I had no idea I was so angry.” Here’s a taste of Molly Ivins’ anger, from You Got to Dance: Our politicians have truly made a pact with the Devil. One watches them spend more and more of their time and energy grubbing, coaxing, flattering and whoring for money. Terrified of being cut off from the mother’s milk, they stand like morons in the rising sea of contempt that threatens to drown the whole sys tem. Then they wonder why no one likes them anymore. Molly has been covering politics since 1970, when she returned to her home state of Texas from a stint as a reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune to the Observer, where she stayed as co-editor for six years \(and guardian The New York Times, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, currently the home of her column, syndicated in two hundred newspapers. Molly has followed Texas and national politics from Sharpstown to Watergate to Whitewater, and she says that in recent years, the political atmosphere at least in its formal, electoral version has indeed gotten worse. “I had been observing this phenomenon, this rising tide of cynicism and disgust in politics, commenting on it with some concern, and I didn’t realize how much I was part of the same phenomenon. And it really took me by surprise. I’ve always loved watching politics, and I enjoy writing about politics. I love the vast, Dickensian cast of characters…. I even enjoy the game, the three-dimensional chess and the high-stakes poker, the strategy of it. I have always tried to remember that the chips on the table of this game are peoples’ lives, which is something I think a lot of us forget politicians and the people who watch them. But I have always liked politics, and suddenly I find that I am angry, and bitter, and disgusted. “Money has always been part of politics. Certainly as long as the time I’ve been covering it, there hasn’t been any noticeable degree of purity to the process. But we’ve not seen it like this, to this extent. And it’s just if you look at the money that puts people in public office now, it’s all special interest money, and of the special interest money … over 60 percent is corporate special interest money. The consequences are just absolutely disastrous: government of corporate special interests, by corporate special interests, for corporate special interests. And it’s not going to change until we change the rules, and get the corporate special interest money out of politics.” m oily is certainly serious about her life-long political commitments, and particularly about her ongoing battles on behalf of campaign finance reform. On the day we talked, in the sunlit study of her home in south Austin, the McCain-Fein gold reform bill was hovering in the anterooms of the U.S. Senate Alan Pogue of what might happen to the bill and its amendments. But in listening to the ripple and roar of her conversation about politics, journalism, scandals, music, just plain old gossip it’s hard to be convinced that Molly Ivins can in fact be “angry, bitter, and disgusted.” One of her favorite after-dinner anecdotes ends with the deathbed farewell of a good friend, civil rights lawyer Joe Rauh, who had fought undaunted for liberal causes, win or lose, through the darkness of the McCarthy years: “Molly,” he said, “tell ’em how much fun it was. Tell ’em how much fun it was.” Molly seems always to have taken Rauh’s advice very much to heart. She is inevitably, irrepressibly lively, brimming with jokes and tall tales, jumping from one topic to another to retrieve a remembered laugh or insult, or suddenly up from her chair to dig out an old clipping or a new list of outrages that will find their way into an upcoming column. In the space of a few moments her voice riffs from a fortissimo hoot to a seductive East Texas drawl to a natural comedienne’s clipped whisper and then there’s that great rolling, rising laugh which, when it comes, feels like a warm spring rain. And despite her frankly glum short-term political diagnosis, she remains insistently positive in overall outlook and optimistic in spirit. Is it a rhetorical pose or a real conviction? “It’s real optimism, it’s real optimism. It’s partly that I am a congenital optimist; and also, optimism is one of the ways I deal with the lunacy.” In her book, after her frank summation of the Clinton years \(“I I HAVE ALWAYS TRIED TO REMEMBER THAT THE CHIPS ON THE TABLE OF THIS GAME ARE PEOPLES’ LIVES, WHICH IS SOMETHING I THINK A LOT OF US FORGET POLITICIANS AND THE PEOPLE WHO WATCH THEM. MARCH 13, 1998 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9