- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2000

Something will blow

Syndicated columnist James Pinkerton notes that all kinds of speculation is accompanying the federal investigation into how a videotape and other George W. Bush debate materials ended up in the hands of an Al Gore confidant who turned it over to the FBI.

A Gore campaign staffer was caught bragging about having a "mole" in the Bush camp, but now says he made it up. The FBI seems more interested in an aide to Mr. Bush's advertising man. She was taped mailing a package at about the time the Bush debate materials were sent off.

The Gore campaign suggests it was all a setup by the Bush campaign. Meanwhile, some folks wonder if a politicized FBI is just trying to distract the Bush campaign at a critical time.

"But whatever the truth of Mole-gate, it will likely emerge by Election Day," Mr. Pinkerton writes.

"Conspiracies are hard enough to keep secret in the best of times; the worst of times is when hundreds of investigators, thousands of reporters, and millions of voters are probing and watching. In such a pressure cooker, something will blow and when it does, a presidential campaign will likely be blown out of the water."

'Disgraceful' offer

Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, yesterday said he was outraged by Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joseph I. Lieberman's statements that he "respects" and "admires" Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and wants to meet with him.

"It would be absolutely disgraceful for Joe Lieberman to meet with Louis Farrakhan," Mr. King said. He called Mr. Farrakhan "anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic and anti-white."

"Sitting down with Farrakhan would be the same as meeting with the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan or the head of the American Nazi Party," Mr. King added.

Mr. Farrakhan is spearheading the Million Family March in Washington on Oct. 16, which he says is open to families of all religions, including Jews.

Gun slip-ups

Under a law signed by Texas Gov. George W. Bush, his home state failed to complete background checks before granting licenses to carry concealed guns to many applicants, unknowingly giving the permits to more than 400 people with prior convictions.

Of those, 71 had felony convictions or recent misdemeanors that should have disqualified them from receiving a license, and all of those licenses have since been revoked, state officials said yesterday.

Applicants received concealed-weapon permits despite prior convictions of rape or armed robbery and histories of violence, psychological disorders and drug or alcohol problems, the Los Angeles Times reported in yesterday's editions.

About 215,000 Texans are licensed to carry concealed weapons.

A spokesman for Mr. Bush's presidential campaign, Karen Hughes, blamed the 71 cases on federal law-enforcement officials who failed to respond to the state's requests for help with many background checks within the 60 days required under Texas law, the Associated Press reports.

The Bush campaign, in addition to pointing out a huge drop in crime rates within the state, said Texas' system of background checks was as stringent or more thorough than the checks in the 30 other states with similar concealed-weapons laws.

Clinton's Jewish joke

President Clinton joked Monday night that he resents the credit given Vice President Al Gore for choosing a Jewish vice-presidential running mate in Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman.

"I know it's a big deal to have the first Jewish vice-presidential nominee, but I mean, come on now, look at American history; that is nothing compared to the first Jewish agriculture secretary," Mr. Clinton said.

He was appearing at a Capitol Hill fund-raiser with Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman for a high school classmate of Mr. Glickman's, freshman Rep. Dennis Moore, Kansas Democrat, the Associated Press reports.

"I mean, just with a decision, I destroyed one of the great stereotypes in American life: Nobody thinks Jewish farmer is an oxymoron any more," the president said.

Alternative scenario

Nearly 27 million Americans would not get the full benefit of Texas Gov. George W. Bush's proposed tax cuts because they would become subject to another tax originally designed to prevent investors and the wealthy from sheltering too much of their income, a congressional analysis found.

The Joint Committee on Taxation, a bipartisan congressional panel, said about 12.2 million Americans would see smaller than anticipated reductions under the Republican presidential nominee's 10-year, $1.3 trillion tax-cut plan because they become subject to the alternative minimum tax, the Associated Press reports.

That's in addition to 14.7 million who under current law will have to pay the alternative tax by 2010 and thus will get a reduced or no tax break.

The panel, in a report prepared for Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York, ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said increased exposure to the minimum tax could reduce the size of Mr. Bush's tax relief by $192 billion over 10 years.

"Governor Bush has advertised his tax plan as simple: 'If you pay income tax, you get a tax cut,' " Mr. Rangel said Monday. "But the governor's statements disagree with the facts regarding his tax plan. The fact of the matter is millions of taxpayers will not receive any tax reduction from the Bush plan."

Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said the alternative minimum tax (AMT), in its current structure, was a "pernicious little thing" that Republicans sought to substantially scale back when they took control of Congress in 1995. He noted that President Clinton vetoed that legislation.

"Unlike Clinton-Gore, who vetoed AMT relief, the Bush government will look forward to working with Congress to protecting more Americans from AMT," he said.

Bush on Letterman

Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush has agreed to appear on CBS' "The Late Show With David Letterman" on Oct. 19. Democratic rival Al Gore visited Mr. Letterman on Sept. 14.

Mr. Bush's last appearance on Mr. Letterman's show, during last winter's primary season, was somewhat awkward because the interview was done via satellite and the Texas governor had trouble hearing the comedian. Mr. Bush will be appearing in Mr. Letterman's New York studio this time, executive producer Maria Pope said Monday.

Some pundits say well-received talk-show appearances with Regis Philbin and Oprah Winfrey in recent weeks helped Mr. Bush in the polls, particularly among women.

With appearances by both Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush, Miss Pope said, "We've covered ourselves now."

"We've hopefully guaranteed ourselves a sleepover in the Lincoln Bedroom however this turns out," Miss Pope said.

Mr. Letterman has been pushing for Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush to appear on his show together, but hasn't had any luck, the Associated Press reports. Miss Pope said "The Late Show" will keep trying.

Gore gains

Going into last night's debate, Vice President Al Gore seemed to be making headway against Texas Gov. George W. Bush in two national tracking polls, although the contest remains almost dead even.

The Voter.com Battleground 2000 released yesterday showed a deadlock in the presidential race, 41 percent to 41 percent. However, it was the first time since Sept. 12 that Mr. Bush had not led the vice president by a small margin.

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup tracking poll released yesterday showed Mr. Gore with a 2 percentage point lead, 46 percent to 44 percent. That broke a 45 percent to 45 percent tie in poll results from the previous two days. Mr. Bush led 46 percent to 44 percent in the survey released Saturday.

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