IF BOB MCLANE scared easily, he would have backed off after two men ominously snapped a picture of his daughter as she got off a school bus. Or when a Jeep drove on his lawn at night and dumped litter. Or when the phone rang at 2 a.m. and the voice asked if he knew how much damage a stick of dynamite could cause. Or the 10 death threats.
But McLane, 46, a Marine in Vietnam, doesn't scare. So he's pushing along with an organization he formed called Dukebusters.
It's aimed at David Duke, the ex-Nazi and ex-Klansman who is trying to con the voters of Louisiana into electing him governor.
During the past few years, McLane, who lives in Bossier City, La., and sells real estate, has become something of an expert on Duke's background and thought processes, if they can be called that.
He puts out material on Duke that is both disturbing and funny.
There's a quiz. Ten quotations. You are asked to identify which five came from Duke and which five were Hitler's words. It isn't easy to tell the difference. The scoring chart says, "0 to 6 correct: average confused Louisiana voter."
McLane also gives out before and after photos of Duke. Before he had his face lift: baggy eyes, crooked beak, a sneaky, rodent-like look. After the face lift: the clean features of the modern TV candidate. And the question above the photos: "Aryan or not? Only his plastic surgeon knows for sure."
"And last spring," McLane recalls with a chuckle, "he said he wanted drug testing for people on welfare, I had a press conference and invited everyone to send Duke their urine once a month. Some did. He hasn't forgiven me about that."
McLane's loathing for Duke is both personal and civic.
The personal side: As a Marine, he has contempt for Duke's claim to have been a CIA operative in Laos. "He was a draft dodger. So he comes up with this hokey story about being some kind of CIA guy, and nobody in the world can say it's true or isn't because the CIA never confirms or denies that kind of information. But the fact is, he ducked the war."
The civic side: "I love Louisiana, but I'm hurting for this state. I'm embarrassed. I think of Duke as the AIDS virus of politics. But so many people here have tunnel vision and are poorly educated. Dropouts who never took history. They don't know what his being a Nazi means. My uncle was fighting Nazis on D-Day. How could I look him in the face if I didn't try to stop this guy?
"But now it's respectable to be a Dukeoid. They can say it out loud. They're proud of it. This plastic man, the ultimate in packaging, and it's working. That's what scares me, not the threats from his people. They're cowards like him.
"And I'm depressed as hell about it because he can win. He's a fraud, but you win or lose elections on TV, and on TV he comes across as Mr. Wonderful."
McLane is right, of course. Duke knows how to use the tube, whether he is cooly calling the cerebral Michael Kinsley "a worm," or chatting with the always-cordial Larry King. It is not considered good form for a TV interviewer to say: "Duke, you are really a scummy guy."
"It's like he's got momentum. It's all coming together for him, and people don't care. I wish the TV stations would do nothing but play World War II movies every night until the election until some of his young supporters figure out what a Nazi is, because they sure didn't learn in school. My 8-year-old daughter knows more about Nazis than they do; I've made sure of that."
Despite his personal efforts, McLane is convinced that Duke will not only be elected governor of Louisiana, but has a mad plan to run for president some day. And that prospect does frighten him.
That's where he and I differ. I think Duke's candidacy and ambitions are good for the country. There's been enough talk about being a kinder and gentler nation, 1,000 points of light and all that kissy-face nonsense. Those 1,000 points of light are beady eyes, glaring with hate, envy and resentment.
And all that hatred can't be measured by pollsters or the Census Bureau. When they take the census, they don't ask: "Which of the following groups do you think should be marched into gas chambers . . ."
But Duke could provide us with this valuable information. Sort of a national hate-thy-neighbor referendum.
It's kind of like the second "Ghostbusters" movie, when all the rage and anger in New York turned into a river of throbbing glop beneath the city that gave energy and power to the evil dead King Vigos.
Maybe somebody should check the sewers in Louisiana to see what's flowing down there. If need be, Bill Murray could be brought in to give Duke a squirt of good slime.