''Bill, you ignorant slut.'' Well, maybe the repartee won't get that nasty, but ''60 Minutes'' hopes entertaining sparks will fly when it matches up former president Bill Clinton and his 1996 rival, former senator Bob Dole, for 10 weekly debates reminiscent of the old ''Point-Counterpoint'' segments it used to run. The two will face off for the first time this Sunday, CBS announced, and continue for the rest of the season, perhaps returning in the fall.
The segments' title will be ''Clinton/Dole'' one week and ''Dole/Clinton'' the next. ''I see this as an opportunity to try to have a really civil debate that enlightens people on the issues,'' Clinton told the New York Times. Dole seemed less sanguine about the possibility of creating enlightening debate but told the Times he and his former foe would ''have some fun.''
The original ''Point-Counterpoint'' segments in the mid-1970s featured a weekly three-minute debate on topical issues between conservative James Kilpatrick and liberal Shana Alexander. They were memorably parodied on ''Saturday Night Live'''s newscast by Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd, who would always open his argument with the catchprase, ''Jane, you ignorant slut.'' ''60 Minutes'' replaced the segment with Andy Rooney's commentary 25 years ago. Rooney will continue to close the show, while the ''Dole/Clinton'' exchange will get two minutes in the middle of the program. That's a minute less than Kilpatrick and Alexander got; producer Don Hewitt blamed the trim on viewers' shorter attention spans.