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Saturday, 9 December, 2000, 07:14 GMT
Is Gore the 'Comeback Kid'?

'America heads into the unknown' is the headline in The Guardian, which is not the only paper speculating that the dispute over presidential election ballots could end up in the US Congress.

The Financial Times says there could be a constitutional conflict with the possibility that Florida could even send two competing slates of electoral votes to Washington.

The Independent believes the ruling of the Florida Supreme Court now leaves George W Bush rather than Al Gore with the burden of proving victory.

In the words of the Times - Al Gore looks like a bigger "Comeback Kid" than President Clinton.

Soap Prince

Coronation Street's Vera Duckworth greets Prince Charles with the words "Ay Up Chuck" in The Mirror.

The Daily Telegraph says the Prince's cameo appearance in Friday's anniversary programme was not the stuff of Bafta nominations but it was a moment of television history.

The Times is moved to compare the monarchy with what it calls the prince of soaps.

Forty years, it says, is a twinkling of a crown jewel in the long run of the monarchy but even the Street's Ken Barlow hasn't yet wedded six wives or cut off anybody's head.

The Independent says that if the Royal Family carry on like this it may only be a matter of time before they - like the Ogdens or Langtons before them - are written out of the plot.

Ethics Man

The word from the streets of Brentwood and Ongar is that the MP, Martin Bell, once known as the Man in the White Suit, is now transformed into "Ethics Man".

The phrase appears to have been coined by Tory rebels who convinced him to stand at the general election because they say their local Conservative association has been infiltrated.

The Guardian decides he was right to accept the challenge - and wishes him luck.

The Independent disagrees as, it says, the sitting MP, Eric Pickles, is blameless and there is no great issue to fight.

Chirac lectures

Developments at the EU summit in Nice are perhaps best described by a French official in the Financial Times: when big countries have the presidency, journalists always write about French arrogance, a German Fourth Reich and Perfidious Albion.

The Times says that many of the smaller countries are irritated with President Chirac's heavy handling of the summit and his lecturing manner.

The Telegraph reports that Germany wants to be the single most powerful nation in the Union because it has the biggest population.

And almost every paper reports what is described as a dirty-tricks campaign by the Foreign Office to safeguard the UK's veto over social security benefits.

The Independent says that when Denmark agreed a compromise to move to majority voting on social security, a British briefing to Danish journalists was seen as an attempt to destabilise their government's negotiating position.

Bob's building tips

The Sun sets the children's character, Bob the Builder, to work to see if he can live up to his billing of fixing any problem.

Bob's verdict on the Millennium Dome is to flatten it.

His solution for the floods is a damp-proof course across the UK with steel support beams for river banks.

As for the Millennium Bridge, he recommends having a cuppa and using Blackfriars Bridge instead.

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