A month after Cleveland defaulted, Mayor Dennis Kucinich flew to Los Angeles with his ventriloquist's dummy, Sherwood. Kucinich, 32, hit the talk shows, milking his moment of populist celebrity from battling Cleveland's banks, talking tough about electric rates on NBC's Tomorrow with Tom Snyder. But on EveryDay, a syndicated variety show, Kucinich played the comic, throwing laugh lines to his wooden companion.

Dennis and Sherwood first performed together in 1976 at a charity roast of WGAR-AM host John Lanigan. Elected mayor, Kucinich took Sherwood to City Hall to entertain visiting children. The Boy Mayor's two-year team became the zaniest, most chaotic years in Cleveland political history, and Sherwood played a supporting role in the comedy of errors. Two weeks after the EveryDay episode aired, Plain Dealer readers voted Sherwood their ninth-favorite candidate to replace Liz Richards as co-host of Channel 5's Morning Exchange.

When voters retired Kucinich in fall 1979, few imagined his second act. This January, after 16 years in Congress and two runs for president, Kucinich bade a second goodbye to elected office. Two weeks later, he debuted as a Fox News commentator. That set off a debate among progressives: Is he the Punch-and-Judy jester in Fox's right-wing theater? Or the feisty populist underdog, winning over his audience with pluck and humor?

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