On election night, stinging from his landslide defeat, he told supporters: "Tomorrow will be the first time in my life I don't have anything to do." Yet three nights later he was trading one-liners with David Letterman. "At east I get 200 bucks for being here tonight," quipped Dole. "First work I've had." The next week, on Saturday Night Live, he deadpanned, "I got a job answering phones down at the Red Cross. My wife pulled some strings. 'Hello, Red Cross, How may Bob Dole direct your call?' " For week after mind-numbing week on the stump, Dole brought dourness and drabness to new depths. Turns out it was all a cover. "There was a fear within the campaign," says Sen. John McCain, a longtime friend, "that his wit and sarcasm would be misinterpreted."
Now that they've been unleashed, it will be difficult for Dole to slip quietly into retirement. Not that he planned to. "Don't want to slow down," says Dole, who is 73 and already owns a condo in Bal Harbour. "I'm not going to be hanging out in Florida that much. Three days there is enough rest for me." Still, with his Senate career behind him and no political plans, what comes next? "We got the law firms, the speaking-bureau types, the book types, the board types, something in the disability community, professorships and things like that," Dole ticks off the offers in his trademark staccato. Sure, but wouldn't he be wasting his comedic talents? "Dole always was the funniest margin Washington," says pundit Charles Krauthammer. "Why shouldn't he make it a career?"
For his part, the man from, Russell, Kans., says that his comic turns were simply a way of smiling in the face of adversity. "I wanted my supporters to sow. we weren't hiding in the cellar somewhere," says Dole, who is holding on to the two-bedroom Watergate apartment he shares with wife Elizabeth. "The election's over. You always look ahead."