John McCain’s new steward of the Straight Talk Express, campaign manager Ricky Davis, says that he’s been uncovering old bills and invoices for extravagant purchases that just don’t jibe with McCain’s image as a frugal-minded maverick. Among them are whoopingly high receipts for a souped-up Straight Talk bus McCain used on the campaign trail, which came complete with flat-screen televisions and elaborate “art wrap”—the cellophane-y stuff that’s used to cover the bus with an image. “Every $10,000 counts now,” says Davis, who replaced Terry Nelson and McCain’s chief strategist, John Weaver, who resigned this summer after filings showed they steered McCain’s campaign off the road by spending too much on consultants and staff, among other things, and not doing enough fund-raising. Davis says he’s been able to balance the books a bit by focusing McCain’s bare-bones operation on three states—Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina—and finding a cheaper Straight Talk Express. “The next time we roll it out, it’ll be much more like the original version.” What did the original look like? “A piece of shit.”
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