- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2001

Froggy went a'courtin'
Leapin' lizards. Tonight, former President Bill Clinton will feast upon deep-fried, well-breaded, mighty good frogs legs, on behalf of good Democrats down Little Rock way.
Mr. Clinton will attend a frog-frying fund-raiser sponsored by state Sen. Cliff Hoofman of Little Rock, organized on behalf of state Sen. Mike Beebe of Searcy, who is running for Arkansas attorney general next year.
Once upon a time, Mr. Hoofman was his own "frog-gigger," poking at the little jumpers with a three-pronged spear to impale the frogs in question.
"There have been occasions when we had about as many come as we're going to have this time, and I gigged plenty and had enough on hand to feed them," Mr. Hoofman said.
This year, he will rely upon the professionals. A fish dealer has been called in to supply the frogs. But has the former president ever gigged for frogs himself?
"No, I don't believe I took him frog-gigging," Mr. Hoofman told the Commercial Appeal in Memphis. "I took him coon-hunting. The only thing that has to be in the coon hunt is dogs, and I had great dogs. He shot the coon out of the tree."

The big picture
Larry Silverstein, the private developer who in July acquired a 99-year lease on the World Trade Center, sent a representative to Congress yesterday seeking to cap his liability in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Republican consultant Ed Gillespie visited Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott on behalf of Mr. Silverstein to sound him out on legislation that would limit damages from lawsuits. Mr. Gillespie said litigation from the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center is still pending and that Mr. Silverstein wants to ensure he has enough money to rebuild the towers, hopefully within five years.

Social Clymer
Oh, dear. Some congressional reporters are in a dither after U.S. Capitol Police and Senate officials imposed a news blackout after Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican, fell ill on the Senate floor Tuesday morning, Roll Call reports.
"It concerns me when you have a potentially huge news story unfold on the floor of the Senate and the press has no access," said Curt Anderson, Associated Press reporter and chairman of the Daily Gallery's Standing Committee of Correspondents.
Reaction varied from outrage to acceptance that the 98-year-old lawmaker's dizziness presented a sensitive media situation. Some were fierce. The New York TImes' Adam Clymer was plenty irked by Robert Petersen of the Senate Daily Press Gallery.
"Anyone who closes the gallery and keeps the press from doing its job shouldn't be working in the press gallery," Mr. Clymer said. "He is a bureaucratic hack. [Senate Majority Leader Tom] Daschle went along with it, and that is outrageous."

Dan's feelings
There are those who watch CBS' Dan Rather closely. Very closely. The Web site www.ratherbiased.com reports that the anchorman's traditional political underpinnings are beginning to surface again.
"Reporting on one of the first nonterrorism-related stories since Sept. 11, Rather's political preferences resurfaced," the site reports. "After relaying the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision banning former President Clinton from arguing cases before the body, Rather asserted that the court's actions came as a result of Clinton's 'misleading testimony in the Paula Jones sex case.' Rather's words were similar to those of Clinton supporters who insisted the former president had never lied, but merely 'misled' and that Jones' case was just about sex."

Sharp eyes
And there are those who watch Democrats closely. Very closely. Trent Duffy of the Republican National Committee noted yesterday that the Democratic National Committee Web site (www.democrats.org) has some unusual content tucked into the "Join Our Online Community" section.
This portion of the DNC site is essentially a public bulletin board and offers a disclaimer for content, but Mr. Duffy believes the Dems should show some restraint.
"There is a reference to the Giuliani administration as 'Mussolini on the Hudson.' There's a place for that sort of thing in the political debate, but not right now," Mr. Duffy said. "This is not the kind of bipartisanship that former Vice President Gore and DNC chair Terry McAuliffe have in mind."

The purse pulse
Meanwhile, the moratorium on political fund raising has ended. Republican National Committee Chairman James S. Gilmore III gave the nod to resume fund raising yesterday, ending a self-imposed ban on political activity after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Telephone solicitations have begun, with mail fund raising set as early as next week. "We work closely with the White House on all major decisions," Mr. Gilmore said.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee also have begun fund raising. "We have a letter going out this week," said NRSC spokesman Ginny Wolfe.
The NRSC's fund-raising letter was nonpartisan, saying that "Today, there are no Republicans or Democrats, only Americans." But it added, "When you feel it is appropriate now or over the coming days, we welcome your support of our efforts to win back the majority in the Senate."
The Republican campaign committees followed a decision by the Democratic National Committee last week to restart its fund-raising appeals.

Ground Zero tour
What do Elton John, model Heidi Klum, ABC's Barbara Walters and NBC's Tom Brokaw have in common? At some point, each visited the New York disaster site, despite claims that Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and the police department "always" say no to tour requests. Sometimes, the answer "happens to be yes," according to the New York Times.
"Who actually does get down to the site depends on whom they know, what strings they can pull or what friendly face is waiting on the other side of a gate. Susan Sarandon? No problem. Kelly Ripa, Regis Philbin's co-host? 'Yeah, she went,' said a vexed city official.
"Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has made a point of personally ferrying heads of state, United States senators and other lawmakers and leaders to the site, because, he says, he firmly believes they need to see for themselves what happened. His tours are 'for a specific purpose. I do it to get them angry.' A personal view of the site, his aides say, helps drum up financial support for the city and military support from world leaders.
"It is not terribly clear what the cycling champion Lance Armstrong might bring to the table, but he nonetheless visited in a helicopter with the mayor and Bill Clinton," the Times noted. The Amazing Kreskin, however, did not make the cut.

Grumble rumble
Uh-oh: It's another round of Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura vs. the local press. On Tuesday, the governor viewed the Manhattan disaster site courtesy of ABC News, which paid his way in exchange for exclusive video footage of Mr. Ventura, New York Gov. George E. Pataki and "Good Morning America" host Charles Gibson in the ruins.
Trouble was, the exclusive arrangement left Minnesota print and broadcast reporters out of the tour. The situation prompted Mr. Ventura's spokesman, John Wodele, to rumble with a critical reporter from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a vociferous exchange caught on Minnesota Public Radio. That was the last straw for the governor.
"John, don't worry about it," Mr. Ventura said to his champion. "I'm not going to give any more interviews to the local press any more."

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