Buzz has been a bit afraid to go to sleep lately. For decades we've been a proud, left-leaning, pro-choice, social-program-supporting, anti-drug-war liberal, but apparently there's something in the water in Dallas that takes perfectly normal people of the Democratic stripe and turns them into (shudder) Republicans. It's happened with mayoral candidate Tom Dunning, formerly known as a large contributor to Democratic causes, and with his opponent, Laura Miller, a former columnist for this paper.

See if you can say this without giggling: "former Dallas Observer muckraker Laura Miller, stalwart conservative."

Nope? We can't either. We suspect that if you look in Miller's and Dunning's back yards, you'll find strange-looking pods and a couple of mayoral-candidate skins.

Or maybe not. In any case, something extraordinary is needed to explain Miller's appearance at GOP headquarters, where she mined the North Dallas conservative vote in what is supposed to be a nonpartisan mayoral race. Miller says she's a conservative, but:

• She told WBAP's Mark "Rush Lite" Davis that she voted for Al Gore.

• She said on the same show she would ban gun shows on city property, but then backed off that idea a day later, after Davis' audience all but threw a pistol party on her front lawn. (If Miller thinks last summer's protesters with naughty signs outside her home were worrisome, she should remember that at least they weren't packing rods.)

• Miller's husband, Steve Wolens, recently revealed he's playing a big role in his wife's campaign, so his politics are fair game, as well. A Democratic state representative, Wolens is a senior partner at Baron & Budd, one of the largest trial-lawyer firms in the nation. If you believe the Wall Street Journal's opinion page, people like Wolens are the biggest threat to American capitalism since Karl Marx. Of course, if you believe the WSJ's editorial writers, you're liable to believe anything.

• Nevertheless, hubby's firm is listed as the fifth biggest political donor in the nation on www.triallawyermoney.org. The firm, which pumps out tens of thousands of asbestos claims against companies such as Dallas-based Haliburton Corp., contributed more than $584,000 in soft money to the Democrats in the last four years--and not a soft farthing to the GOP. These aren't just Democrats. These are Big Democrats.

OK, so maybe there's no need to run out into the street and shout warnings about the invasion of the Democrat-snatchers.

Buzz (who can really get behind pro-Gore, pro-gun-control conservatives like this) has a friend who likes to lift his feet off the floor and snigger when things get as wacky as the sight of Miller hunkered down with the GOP. "Man," he likes to say, "the bullshit is rising."


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