California Democratic Convention, 6 pm

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By Tim Redmond

I just spent an hour with the star of the day, the former senator from Alaska, Mike Gravel who made news at last night's debate by asking Barack Obama who he's going to nuke.

Gravel is a character. He says the other candidates are "frightening," largely because he seems to think any of them might drop a nuclear bomb on Iran. He told us that "all of these people spend more on haircuts than I raised last quarter." He calls the president at "mental midget."

His main issue is a national initiative process (which, given what a mess the initiative process is in CA, makes me more than a little nervous.) But he's way against the war, and in favor of talking to all parties in all countries. He would "immediately normalize relations with Cuba." And he thinks the war on drugs has been a failure ("we should legalize all drugs.")

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(photo by Dave Rolland)

His other signature issue is abolishing the federal income tax and replacing it with a sales tax. We got into it a bit; I asked him how it could possibly be okay to let people making more than a billion dollars a year get away with not paying an income tax. He said that we'd get the money when they spent it -- but of course, these guys don't spend most of their money. They invest it, tie it up in tax shelters, put it in foundations, etc.

But I give him credit -- he talked to me about federal tax policy for at least half an hour, which is its own kind of lunacy -- and way more than any ot the other candidates would ever do. A fascinating piece of work.