AUSTIN, Texas -- Ooo, it's getting nasty out there. Do you love the idea that a group from McAllen, that doesn't have to report who gave it money or how much or where it came from or what its purpose is, is running a TV ad accusing Clinton-Gore of treason?

This remake of the infamous classic "daisy ad" from Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 campaign accuses the current administration of having "sold" the nation's security to "Communist Red China" -- that's as opposed to Communist China, Red China or even just China -- in exchange for campaign contributions. And as a result, China "has the ability to threaten our homes with long-range nuclear warheads." None of which is true, by the way. My favorite moment was when the group's spokesman told The New York Times that the group was formed to bring "accountability" to politics.

Meanwhile, Our Boy George -- the uniter not the divider, the one who promises to restore civility to Washington politics -- is getting so mean that it's creating newspaper headlines. So much for his pledge not to wage a campaign of personal attacks.

What fascinates me about Gov. George W. Bush's repeated promise to restore civility, harmony, bipartisanship and good manners to our political life is just how ahistorical it's possible to be. Americans are notoriously averse to remembering much, but this is ridiculous.

Here's Bush complaining about "standoffs and showdowns and shutdowns" in Washington and "too much deadlock and gridlock." Excuse me -- does anyone remember a man named Newt Gingrich?

In 1992, Gingrich sent a memo to every Republican candidate for Congress, advising all of them to refer to their opponents with the words "sick, pathetic, bizarre, twisted and traitor." You may also recall that upon being elected speaker of the House, Gingrich deliberately shut down the federal government, twice.

Much as I hate to bring up the Late Unpleasantness, does anyone remember Kenneth Starr? He spent five years and $52 million investigating the Clintons for everything from legally firing some people to a 22-year-old unsuccessful land deal, only to find in the end that they weren't guilty of anything that could be proven. As for the absurd waste of time on the impeachment, that useless, vindictive exercise was the fault of one party in Washington, but does anyone remember which one?

I notice that Bush is back on the "personal responsibility" theme he tried earlier. Does anyone have any idea what this man is talking about when he promises to usher in "a responsibility era"?

It must test well in the polls. I, for one, object to being lectured to about responsibility by a man who as far as I can tell has never faced it. He partied until he was 40, repeatedly failed in business and had to be bailed out by his daddy's friends, got elected on his daddy's name, and is now ducking responsibility for the parts of the Texas record that are clearly his fault, while claiming credit for what he never did.

"In dreams begins responsibility," wrote Mr. Yeats -- as far as Bush is concerned, in his dreams.

Even as Bush campaigns, his party in Washington is giving a new definition to irresponsibility. Unless Clinton vetoes it, they're going to spend $900 billion of the supposed surplus before either Bush or Al Gore ever gets to the White House. Between tax cuts to benefit the wealthy and pork-barrel spending, they've voted to fritter away $900 billion -- 40 percent of the projected surplus.

Crow eaten here: Meanwhile, I need to take some responsibility myself. In my column of Oct. 15, I managed to misattribute an excellent story on high-tech firms paying no corporate income tax: It was not the San Jose Mercury News but the San Francisco Chronicle that did the story. In my column of Aug. 17, a misplaced quotation mark made it appear as though Justice Jim Baker of the Texas Supreme Court had written something that he did not. The part of the quote correctly attributed to him is simply, "We all know what is going on here." The interpretation of that to mean that the justices are getting campaign contributions from big companies was commentary.

And here's a doozy: On Oct. 24, I used a lovely line, "Bush sounds like English is his second language, and Gore sounds like he thinks it's yours." I thought the line was original to a friend who asked not to be quoted -- it turns out that he read the line somewhere but can't remember where. So now I owe someone for a good line, but I don't know who.

Molly Ivins is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. To find out more about Molly Ivins and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at COPYRIGHT 2000 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.