Q. A few years ago, Vice President Joe Biden was accused of and admitted to plagiarism. Could you refresh my memory on the facts? -- Ron Krause, of Belleville
A. It's probably an episode Biden would like to bury because it derailed his presidential hopes in 1988 -- and perhaps for good. But what might have been an accidental oversight quickly snowballed into the discovery of a pattern of word theft and falsehoods.
When Biden declared as a candidate on June 9, 1987, pundits figured his chances were strong. He was a good speaker, relatively moderate and he was about to star as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Robert Bork nomination hearings for the Supreme Court.
But in September his road to the Oval Office hit a major pothole when he was accused of plagiarism. At the Iowa State Fair in August, Biden had given a speech in which he patterned a section straight from a talk given earlier that year by Neil Kinnock, leader of the British Labor Party. If you look at the lines side by side, it's obvious that for the most part Biden merely substituted his family name for that of Kinnock.
Example: "Is it because I'm the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and graduate degree ... ?" Biden had said, a copy of Kinnock's "Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university?"
Now, in fairness, a Washington Post article a month later said Biden had used that passage before and after his Iowa State Fair appearance and always gave Kinnock credit. But on Aug. 23, Biden omitted the reference.
Perhaps had Biden given credit as he usually did, nothing would have happened. Instead, the report sparked a dig into Biden's past and resulted in much more mud. Stories soon cited Biden speeches that included short phrases or passages taken from Robert F. Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy.
It didn't end there. Fighting to save his presidential aspirations, Biden admitted in mid-September that during his student days at Syracuse University, he had used five pages from a published law review article with only one footnote in his 15-page paper. Twenty years later, Biden said he had misunderstood the rules of citation and had not meant to deceive anyone.
Then, a video surfaced that had Biden saying he had graduated in the top half of his class, had received three degrees and had attended college on a full scholarship. In fact, the New York Times later reported, Biden earned only one Bachelor of Arts, had received a half scholarship based on financial need, and graduated 76th of 85.
On Sept. 23, Biden withdrew from the race, saying his candidacy had been destroyed by "the exaggerated shadow" of his past mistakes.
Footnotes: It was later revealed that rival Democrat Michael Dukakis' campaign had distributed an "attack video" citing the Kinnock plagiarism to media outlets. And, in 1987, the Delaware Supreme Court's Board of Professional Responsibility cleared Biden of any law-school wrongdoing.
Q. I have been looking but have been unable to find the best peppermint candy that I have had in the past few years. About three years ago, I purchased them at Sam's Club -- individually wrapped peppermints with "Blueberry Hill" on them. Please help me find these! -- Gerald Wollmann
A. No wonder you can't find them. For such a simple, little candy, these tasty treats have left a complex trail that might have doomed even Hansel and Gretel.
When you bought them, Blueberry Hill candies were made by a company called Simply Goodies. But in late 2008, Blueberry Hill and several other Simply Goodies brands were bought by Sunrise Confections, a division of Mount Franklin Foods in El Paso, Texas.
Sunrise now makes the same peppermint candies but not under the Blueberry Hill name, Beth Podol, the company's senior marketing manager, tells me. In the St. Louis area, you won't find them at Sam's, but you can look for them at other stores under the Sunrise label.
Or, it might be easier to go to a Family Dollar store and search for Family Gourmet, the company's private-label brand. They are also distributed at Kroger stores. Happy snacking.
We're called Americans. What is the proper term for a person born in Monaco?
Answer to Sunday's trivia: Nowadays, championship boxing matches usually go 12-15 rounds, but John L. Sullivan and Jake Kilrain were only getting started after 15 on July 9, 1889. In what is often called the last bare-knuckle heavyweight title bout, Sullivan and Kilrain went toe to toe for 75 rounds in Richburg, Miss. After starting at 10:30 a.m. in the morning, Sullivan, the defending champion, vomited in the 44th round but recovered. Finally, an estimated 3,000 fight fans saw Kilrain's manager throw in the towel after the 75th round.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or email@example.com