- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Business as usual
Rep. Gary A. Condit, California Democrat, plans to send out invitations this week for a campaign fund-raiser, the New York Post reports.
The "Condit Country" fund-raiser, scheduled for mid-October, is an annual event held at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in which supporters pay $35 each to eat barbecue and baked beans with the congressman and other politicians and listen to country-rock bands.
Mr. Condit has lain low since the disappearance of former Washington intern Chandra Levy, who reportedly was having an affair with the congressman.
"Insiders in the Modesto, Calif., area said the scheduling of the fund-raiser is the first sign that Condit, who has been in seclusion for two weeks with his family, is taking the necessary steps to run for re-election next year," reporter Niles Lathem writes.

A case of bribery?
A contractor pleaded guilty Monday to bribing Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. in 1998.
Mr. Traficant, an Ohio Democrat who has represented the Youngstown area in Congress for 18 years, was indicted in May on charges of accepting cash and thousands of dollars worth of free work at his farm in exchange for helping businessmen gain contracts.
James Sabatine, 49, of Canfield, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to paying Mr. Traficant a $2,400 bribe. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Blake said Sabatine "has agreed to cooperate" with prosecutors, which may include having him testify against Mr. Traficant.
In the plea agreement filed Monday, prosecutors said Sabatine paid the bribe three years ago for help in getting access to a rail line near his asphalt plant.
Mr. Traficant has not been charged with accepting a bribe from Sabatine, but prosecutors could ask to add additional charges to his indictment, the Associated Press reports.
A 31/2-year federal investigation of corruption in the Youngstown area has led to more than 70 convictions, including a judge, a prosecutor, a sheriff and a Traficant aide who has since died.
Sabatine is the third businessman convicted in the investigation of Mr. Traficant, 60. He is also pleading guilty to failing to pay $239,000 in taxes.
Mr. Traficant has denied any wrongdoing, and has hinted that he will build his defense around accusations of prosecutorial misconduct.
John J. Cafaro, a multimillionaire member of a Youngstown mall-development family, and A. David Sugar, a construction company owner, have pleaded guilty in the investigation.

Couric criticized
Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, sharply criticized NBC "Today" host Katie Couric yesterday for what he described as on-air advocacy for confessed child killer Andrea Yates.
After a taped interview by NBC's Jim Cummins with Mrs. Yates' mother and brother, Mrs. Couric told viewers how to contribute to Mrs. Yates' legal defense fund. NBC put the address on the screen, and Mrs. Couric then told her audience that any money left over would be given to women's charities dealing with postpartum depression and psychosis.
"Couric's on-air advocacy for a confessed child killer is just the latest example of her departure from her job description," Mr. Bozell said in a prepared statement. "Journalists are supposed to report the news, not their opinions. To paraphrase the great line from the movie 'Broadcast News': 'Who cares what Katie Couric thinks?'"
Spokesmen for NBC denied that Mrs. Couric or the network were taking sides in the case, but subsequent airings of the segment on MSNBC did not include Mrs. Couric's pitch for the legal defense fund or the address, the Media Research Center said.
"NBC's denial of the obvious is right on par with Bill Clinton claiming he 'never had sexual relations with that woman.' It insults the intelligence of every life form on this planet," Mr. Bozell said.

Heading for Iowa
Al Gore has agreed to be the keynote speaker at the Iowa Democratic Party's annual fund-raising dinner next month, yet another signal that the former vice president is positioning himself for a leap back into politics.
Mr. Gore had been invited to speak at the party's Sept. 29 Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner months ago, a high-profile appearance in the state that starts the presidential nominating season.
Aides notified Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Sheila McGuire Riggs yesterday that Mr. Gore would accept the invitation, two anonymous Democratic sources told the Associated Press.
Mr. Gore is not the only prominent politician heading for Iowa. Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris will attend two fund-raisers and speak to Republican women there Sept. 15, Republican officials said.
"She's in demand right now. She's a high-profile Republican," said Darryl Kearney, finance director for the Iowa Republican Party. "A lot of people want to meet her."
Party officials have said Mrs. Harris will run for Congress in 2002, but she has not confirmed her candidacy. She also will attend two Republican fund-raisers in Minnesota next month.

A grand compromise
Senate Democrats should support oil drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but they need to push hard to raise mandatory fuel mileage standards for sport utility vehicles, the New Republic says.
"What's so bad about drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, anyway?" the liberal magazine said in an editorial. "From the wailing and rending of garments that has followed the House of Representatives vote last week to allow ANWR exploration, you'd think environmentalists had good evidence that drilling for oil and gas would ecologically devastate the 20-million-acre Arctic tundra. They don't."
The magazine added: "When Congress returns from its August recess, the energy debate will shift to the Senate, where Democrats have a stronger hand. Most environmentalists and editorial pages will focus on stopping ANWR drilling; SUV fuel efficiency will receive much less attention. Liberals might well win on the former and lose on the latter. Far better would be a grand compromise: Democrats accepting drilling in ANWR in return for Republicans accepting tough standards for SUVs."

Sentimental journey
Twenty years ago, President Reagan pushed through the largest tax cut in history and started the Reagan revolution.
On Monday, the ex-president's son Michael returned to the California mountaintop hideaway near Santa Barbara where the Gipper sat at a leather patio table on Aug. 13, 1981, and signed the Economic Recovery Act.
"It kicked off Ronald Reagan's presidency. The tax break was the beginning of this revolution," said the son of the nation's 40th chief executive.
The younger Mr. Reagan, a conservative talk-show host, broadcast his three-hour show from the ranch on Monday, the Associated Press reports.
Ronald Reagan's beloved 688-acre mountaintop hideaway at Rancho del Cielo was sold in 1998 to the Virginia-based Young America's Foundation, which promotes conservative values among high school and college students. It was sold after Alzheimer's disease began taking its toll on Mr. Reagan, who is now 90 and a few months short of passing John Adams as the longest-lived American president.
Inside the 100-year-old-plus adobe house, the family gathered for Thanksgiving feasts during the Reagan presidency between 1981 and 1989.
"It brings back some memories," Michael Reagan said about the mountain retreat.

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