October 28, 2006


Like so many other people involved in politics these days, Mrs. Ryun has become obsessive about using hand sanitizer and ensuring that others do, too. She squirted Purell, the antiseptic goop of choice on the stump and self-proclaimed killer of “99.99 percent of most common germs that may cause illness,” on people lined up to meet Vice President Dick Cheney this month at a fund-raiser in Topeka.

When Mr. Cheney was done meeting and greeting, he, too, rubbed his hands vigorously with the stuff, dispensed in dollops by an aide when the vice president was out of public view.

That has become routine in this peak season of handshaking, practiced by everyone from the most powerful leaders to the lowliest hopefuls. Politics is personal at all levels, and germs do not discriminate. Like chicken dinners and lobbyists, they afflict Democrats and Republicans alike. It would be difficult to find an entourage that does not have at least one aide packing Purell.

They’re playing catch-up, but at least they’re on the story. Meanwhile, according to this unreliable report, Purell has released a new product for politicians — mouth sanitizer:

While the hand gel is shown to kill 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria which are often spread by human contact, the new mouth sanitizer was formulated to prevent the viral spread of dirty, bitter and vitriolic political speech.

According to a news release from the company, “Just a quick squirt, swish and spit before stepping up to the microphone and Purell Mouth Sanitizer eliminates not only the words that make others sick, but it even protects a politician from speech that can harm one’s own career, thanks to a special ingredient we call Gaffe-B-Gone.”

If only.

UPDATE: More on sanitizer here. And is the Times story above a “rowback” of its hand-sanitizer item about Bush and Obama last week?

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