Senate hopeful takes stand for bland

July 9, 2003

BY STEVE NEAL SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST


 

Real politicians don't eat tofu. President Bush's favorite is Texas barbecue. His father, George H.W. Bush, likes pork rinds.

Mayor Daley's short list includes hamburger, barbecued chicken and bratwurst. He has made campaign stops at such great Chicago restaurants as Manny's and Berghoff's.

The Rev. Paul Jakes, Daley's rival in last year's mayoral election, is an aficonado of White Castle burgers and cheese-caramel popcorn.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and former House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dan Rostenkowski like steaks.

Gov. Blagojevich, an ice-cream connoisseur, ranks coconut, mint chocolate chip and blue moon at the top of his list.

His erstwhile opponent, former Attorney General Jim Ryan, loves cheese pizza.

Former President Bill Clinton likes McDonald's quarter-pounders, Eli's cheesecake and barbecued pork.

Meatloaf is the favorite meal of Sen. Peter G. Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) and former President Ronald Reagan.

When he first ran for statewide office, former Gov. Jim Edgar devoured fried chicken and bacon cheesburgers. Former Attorney General Roland W. Burris likes ribs and barbecued pork.

Among the Illinois Democrats now vying for the U.S. Senate, state Comptroller Dan Hynes says that steak burritos are his favorite food, while entrepreneur Blair Hull likes ribs, and state Sen. Barack Obama prefers fried chicken.

But Andrew McKenna, Jr., the North Shore businessman seeking the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate, is a mild and crazy guy. During a recent interview with Scott Fornek of the Chicago Sun-Times, McKenna said that frozen yogurt is his favorite pig-out food. Lowfat vanilla anyone?

In this same interview, McKenna chatted about the movies. Fitzgerald, whose seat he is seeking, is a James Bond fan and makes a good case that Roger Moore was the best 007. When McKenna was asked about the last movie he had seen, "Die Another Day" wouldn't have been a bad choice.

There has been no shortage of good films in the last couple of years. He might have cited Roman Polankski's "The Pianist," Michael Caine in "The Quiet American," Jack Nicholson in "About Schmidt," Clint Eastwood in "Blood Work," Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta-Jones in "Chicago," or Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Barry in "Monster's Ball."

But McKenna listed none of the above. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerors Stone," which came out in the fall of 2001, is the last film that he watched on the big screen. He's the senatorial candidate from platform 9 and 3/4.

McKenna, a baby boomer, was also asked about the favorite television show of his youth. In contrast with today's "reality" programming, he grew up in the golden age of television.

"Gunsmoke," "Wagon Train," and "Bonanza" were among the best western series ever made. This was also the era of the original "Dragnet," "Perry Mason," "The Man From Uncle," "The Fugitive," "Batman," and "Zorro."

Blagojevich and Jim Ryan, who grew up in this era, both listed Jackie Gleason's "The Honeymooners" as their favorite. Other notable comedies of this period included "Sgt. Bilko," "Mr. Magoo," "Camp Runamuck," and "The Daffy Duck Show."

McKenna's favorite, though, was "Gilligan's Island," one of the feeblest situation comedies in the history of television. This program, which aired for three seasons, was about seven people stranded on an island in the Pacific. About the best that could be said for "Gilligan's Island" is that it wasn't any worse than "My Mother the Car."

When it comes to music, Blagojevich likes Elvis Presley. Jim Ryan is a Rod Stewart and Elton John fan. Obama's favorite artist is Miles Davis. Former Commerce Secretary William M. Daley likes Roy Orbison. Hull places Willie Nelson at the top of his list. Former Cook County Democratic Chairman Edward R. Vrdolyak likes Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. Former Gov. George Ryan and former Mayor Jane M. Byrne are also Sinatra fans.

But what music does McKenna like? He's not a rock 'n' roller and isn't into the blues. On his CD player, McKenna likes to spin the bland and mellow sounds of Enya, the New Age artist. "Watermark," her 1988 album, is among his favorites.

Has he ever heard "The Wabash Cannonball?"