- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 29, 2000

Noble: Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican, for telling this administration it can't use sportsmen's money against them.

In Bill Clinton's America sportsmen pay taxes to fund anti-hunting groups and line the budgets of unfriendly bureaucrats. Thanks to the efforts of Rep. Don Young, that may not have to be the America the rest of us live in. For this, the Alaska Republican was recently awarded Outdoor Life magazine's 2000 Conservation Award. Mr. Young's bulldog-like efforts and this award make him this week's noble as well.

Sportsmen pay a special federal excise tax on all hunting, fishing and other equipment. The tax, enacted in the 1930s and collected under the Dingell-Johnson and Pittman-Robertson acts, is statutorily required to be spent on conservation efforts in all 50 states it is to pay for developing more hunting and fishing habitat.

Unfortunately, under the Clinton administration the Fish and Wildlife Service began giving this money to anti-hunting groups, such as the Fund for Animals. The money was also used to pad travel expenses. In all the House Committee on Resources, of which Mr. Young is the chairman, found that the Fish and Wildlife Service misappropriated at least $45 million over the last six years.

In keeping with the tradition of this administration, Fish and Wildlife officials stonewalled and gave every appearance of lying, destroying evidence and intimidating witnesses. All so Mr. Young and his committee would not uncover the extent of the budget gymnastics. One official, 31-year Fish and Wildlife Service veteran Jim Beers, was forced out of his job for refusing to go along. He later sued was was award $150,000 in damages and given a letter of apology, among other things. Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Donald Barry refused to testify in front of the committee.

To stop this abuse Mr. Young pushed legislation through which passed the House by a wide margin which would restore the funds in question to their rightful purpose. It is now up to the Senate to pass similar legislation and lay it on Mr. Clinton's desk.

• Knave: Matt Lauer, for accepting without question the liberal spin on Dick Cheney.

The media attack on the Republican ticket is now in full swing. The force behind that swing includes journalists such as Matt Lauer. For this he is the knave of the week.

This week, Mr. Lauer interviewed Dick Cheney, George W. Bush's running mate, on NBC's "Today" show. Right off the bat, Mr. Lauer asked a biting question that revealed his political convictions. "One guy I heard the other day said that in choosing you George W. Bush was selecting his father's old Oldsmobile and not a new model. How do you feel about that?"

What about Mr. Cheney's "conservative" (as if that is a bad word) voting record while serving as a Wyoming congressman? That record "will not help you attract swing voters like minorities and women," Mr. Lauer said. He also asked if Mr. Cheney still opposed federal funding for abortion.

Mr. Lauer then got a little desperate and brought up South Africa. "You voted against a resolution that would have recommended freeing Nelson Mandela. Why did you do that?," he asked.

Mr. Cheney had convincing and detailed answers to each of these accusations (questions they were surely not). Mr. Lauer should have recognized this distortion, done a little more homework, and understood that Democrat spin often amounts to only half a story.

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