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By the time you open your new issue of Land Line, the nation will be days away from electing a new president and political analysts will be at the forefront, telling John Q. Public what it all means. It's not likely, however, any of them will be considering what it means to hundreds of thousands of professional truckdrivers. Because the answers are too elusive and the consequence of trucking's problems are still far too invisible to most of consumer America, sort of like the rotting apple at the bottom of the barrel. Unfortunately, for many small business truckers, the fruits of the year 2000 looks a lot like that apple.

In much of the world, the cost of diesel fuel is still jerking the strings of the economy. This issue devotes proportionate space to the topic, including Jim Johnston's "Issues and Positions," and Paul Abelson's part two of "Improving Fuel Economy."

On the sunny side: There is some positive news to report, however. The worrisome hours-of-service battle is enjoying a temporary ceasefire. The HOS reform issue is pretty much "put to bed" in the words of Jim Johnston, and we'll not likely hear much more about it until late spring. To understand why and how, turn to page 14.

New beginnings for OOIDA and Freightliner? Over the last year, OOIDA and Land Line have thrown some hard jabs at Freightliner and CEO James Hebe over sharp differences of values. At the heart of the matter - the "black box" - and how far technology can go before it commandeers your rights. But, in the words of OOIDA president Jim Johnston, we don't bash just for the sake of bashing. The point is to accomplish a new level of discussion or at best, to succeed in broadening deeply profound views of the issue. We invite you to read our Oct. 6 interview with Jim Hebe in this issue of Land Line - a dialogue that reveals a new attitude from Freightliner that professional truckers will find surprising.

Also in this issue: Another trucking industry personality who appears in this issue is Susan Hawk, a truck-driving castaway from the smash CBS series, "Survivor." If you did not watch the unfolding of this real-life drama, Sue was one of the last of the 16 "survivors" to get voted off the island. For weeks, her picture was splashed all over magazine covers and dozens of TV shows. While recently co-hosting a segment of Regis Philbin's morning show, Hawk talked to Gov. George W. Bush about the cost of fuel. So, after life in the glamorous lane, is Sue going back to trucking? Read more about the real Susan in Keith Goble's exclusive on page 28.

Coming up in November: It's time once again for the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. Nov. 16-18, Land Line and the OOIDA crew will be set up in Exhibit Hall A, booth 1814-1817. Come by.