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Representatives of seven historically black Texas colleges have a message for the anonymous author who is circulating an e-mail that claims Gov. George W. Bush is responsible for the schools' imminent closings:

Knock it off.

The e-mail says that Bush, who once served on the board of one of the schools, Dallas' Paul Quinn College, has shortchanged the colleges, denying them the financial support they need to survive. "There will be seven black colleges in Texas, which will close due to a lack of funds," the e-mail ungrammatically says. It also claims seven other black schools outside of Texas also are likely to close because of funding problems.

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The message, which is untrue, has been bouncing around the Internet since August, says Michael Vega, director of public affairs for Paul Quinn, a predominantly black school with 750 students in southern Dallas. (Bush served a year on Paul Quinn's board in 1990.) The e-mail tends to crop up whenever Bush's presidential campaign makes headlines, as it did this week with the governor's victory in the Iowa caucuses.

"Basically, it comes up whenever Bush is doing well," Vega says. "I guess it came out to hurt Bush, but it's hurting black colleges."

Vega says Paul Quinn has not suffered financially because of the e-mail, though he has spent a fair amount of time reassuring students and the press of that fact.

"It's kind of bringing the students down," he says. "[And] it's keeping all of the PR people at the colleges busy."

Valley of the malls

Admittedly, Buzz doesn't go in for much book-readin' -- unless you count Action Comics. But we couldn't resist skimming through George Clidienst's The Protégé, the Garland resident's just-published debut that offers to dish about Dallas' young, urban professionals. Since that doesn't include Buzz -- the hairline gives it away -- maybe we're the wrong demographic to review such things. That, and we can't stand books that contain punctuation errors in the first sentence: "This was Dallas, Texas at its very best." So forgive us for being too hard on Clidienst when we say The Protégé makes us want to move to, oh, Grand Prairie. That's just the way we are.

Clidienst's tale is one so familiar, we're pretty sure it was put together using Microsoft's So You Wanna Be a Novelist? software (sample instructions: "Hit F5 for Chapter One" and "Hit Shift+F9+Insert for Character Names"). It goes like this: Jake Travis shakes off the dust of a small Texas town and heads for The Big City, where the streets are paved with...well, you know. Jake, like all good protagonists, must decide whether he will remain on the path of righteousness or switch to the Dark Side (here, represented by his cold-blooded sumbitch boss Ben Davidson, who promises to make Jake a rich feller if he does right by petrochem Lind Industries). Then, there's Noelle, Jake's galpal, who craves a boy with a thick wallet. She, of course, possesses a "roaming mouth and tongue," which she uses to "communicate her idea of how [Jake] should be spending his time."

Long (God, how long) story short: lots of screwing, screwing over, bingeing, purging, lies, more lies, more screwing. Since we didn't (OK, couldn't, but we tried) read the whole thing, we're not quite sure how well Clidienst "[shows] a little of the culture of our city," as he promised in his letter to the Dallas Observer. From what we can tell, people get stuck in traffic on the Tollway, jog around White Rock Lake, and read The Dallas Morning News -- there, pure fiction! And the writing is pure Jackie Susann: "When their lovemaking was over, Noelle found herself holding tightly to Jake's muscular torso, still trembling from the intensity of the act." He should have titled it Valley of the Malls.

At least it wasn't draft

We knew that eventually someone would decide to take a whiz in Buzz's direction; we just never thought it would be People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

PETA, an organization devoted to protecting animals by getting its name in the media, sent us a bottle filled with a bright yellow-green fluid labeled "Tinkle." The bottle purported to contain pee from pregnant mares, the raw material for Premarin, an estrogen-replacement drug derived from horse urine and commonly prescribed to reduce the symptoms of menopausal women. We say purported because the bottle is -- we hope -- actually colored water, though one Dallas Observer staffer who spilled some on his hands swears it smells like piss. We think he may have hygiene issues, and we'll ask him as soon as he is done washing his hands sometime next week.

PETA says Premarin's manufacturer, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, is guilty of animal cruelty for confining pregnant mares in small stalls, denying them adequate water in order to concentrate estrogen in their urine, and sending the mares' foals off to be slaughtered as unwanted byproducts.

That's a big lie, says Audrey Ashby, a spokeswoman for Wyeth-Ayerst.

The company contracts with independent ranchers -- we like to think of them as pee farmers -- who manage the horses and collect the whiz. More than 30,000 horses are engaged in pumping out Premarin's raw material, she says; the ranches' operations are routinely reviewed by independent veterinarians and authorities in North Dakota and Canada, where most of the farms are located; and the horses are exercised regularly and given adequate water. Ashby says they are kept in stalls in heated barns, which are much comfier places than the North Dakota prairie in winter. The foals are bred for sale, like on any other horse farm.

"It's just extremely disturbing the misinformation campaign PETA has against this important drug," Ashby says. Premarin is also used to treat osteoporosis, and studies are under way to determine whether it's effective for use in a variety of diseases.

Maybe. A life spent knocked up and whizzing doesn't sound exactly fulfilling to Buzz; then, we're not likely to suffer hot flashes. Frankly, we just dread the day that some bright lab geek finds a medicinal use for bullshit -- in which event we'll likely end up either with a really nasty surprise on our desk from PETA or confined in a small room with a word processor and paper and...Hey, wait just a darn minute.

Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams

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