- The Washington Times - Monday, June 28, 2004

No apologies

Republican leaders yesterday made no request for an apology from Vice President Dick Cheney, who cursed at Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy on Tuesday, and the White House said Mr. Cheney’s expletive was “not an issue” with the president.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said the vice president’s outburst was an example of the “partisan feelings and emotions” arising as the November election approaches.

The Tennessee Republican declined to take sides on the issue.

“It’s a political season right now,” he told CNN’s “Late Edition,” adding that “a lot of personal feelings are being expressed, and that emotion came out by the vice president. I’ll let the American people judge whether or not it was warranted.”

The incident occurred when Mr. Leahy struck up a conversation with Mr. Cheney after the two were photographed on the Senate floor. An argument then apparently ensued, and Mr. Cheney responded with an obscenity, urging Mr. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, to perform a sex act that’s anatomically impossible.

Mr. Cheney told Fox News on Friday that he “felt better” after making the remark: “A lot of my colleagues felt what I said badly needed to be said.”

Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, was not among those colleagues. He said yesterday on CNN that “there’s no place in this business for that kind of discourse.”

“It defines down our standards and our expectations,” he said.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday said the vice president’s remark was “not an issue with the president.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are trying to use the vice president’s comment as a party fund-raiser.

“Did you hear what Cheney said? Not exactly the type of language polite folks want to hear,” wrote Anne H. Lewis, deputy executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, in an e-mail to supporters last week after the incident.

The e-mail calls Mr. Cheney’s remark “sad and embarrassing” and concludes with a fund-raising appeal. Please join me this November — let’s send Dick Cheney and his ‘Potty Mouth’ home, once and for all.”

Terminator time

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be among the prime-time speakers at the Republican National Convention in New York in August, a Bush campaign official tells Time magazine.

“The former Terminator does not share President Bush’s opposition to abortion and gay marriage, and during the movie star’s gubernatorial run, some advisers counseled the President to keep his distance, to avoid offending his conservative base. But Republican officials now hope the governor’s broad appeal will help undo Democratic efforts to paint the party as doctrinaire,” John F. Dickerson wrote yesterday in Time.

Excessive coverage

One recent poll says the public is fed up with the way news organizations have been covering the Abu Ghraib prison abuses.

Michael McKenna at MWR Strategies surveyed 1,000 voters June 9-14, and found that while 66 percent were either very or somewhat concerned about the reports of abuses by American troops and civilians, 57 percent said news coverage has been excessive.

Still, the majority — 52 percent — said they become more committed to the war effort when they hear a new organization read the names of Americans killed in Iraq, as Ted Koppel did on ABC’s “Nightline” program. Twenty-seven percent said it was demoralizing.

Also, 59 percent said the beheading of U.S. citizen Nick Berg was more emblematic of the enemy’s values than the prison-abuse images are emblematic of the United States’ values.

“It seems that the respondents believe that whatever happened at the prison is an aberration for us, while the beheadings are pretty much the norm for the other side,” Mr. McKenna concludes.

Rings a bell

Rep. Chris Bell, Texas Democrat, was pleased last week when he heard the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct agreed to look into his ethics complaint against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican. Unfortunately, in a statement his office released Tuesday, Mr. Bell said, “I am confident that the committee will review the substantive complaint thoroughly and fairly and will ultimately decide to proceed with the long overdue investigation into Representative Bell’s illegal activities.”

Mr. Bell’s spokesman, Eric Burns, said he made the typo — mistakenly using his boss’s name in the press release instead of Mr. DeLay’s — because he “banged it out in like 10 minutes.” Mr. Burns was desperately trying to get the faulty statement corrected on Mr. Bell’s Web site, where it was posted, but had a difficult time getting in touch with the Web site company. The online statement was finally corrected midday Friday.

Paul who?

Quick: Who’s Paul Martin? If you don’t know, you’re not alone: Neither did brewery baron Pete Coors until last Tuesday’s debate against former Rep. Bob Schaffer, his rival in the Colorado race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

During the debate, Mr. Schaffer asked Mr. Coors whether he agreed with Paul Martin about lifting restrictions on the importation of Canadian beef. Mr. Coors replied that he didn’t know who Paul Martin was, but he did favor reopening the border.

Mr. Schaffer pounced. “Paul Martin is the prime minister of Canada,” he said. “When you walk onto the floor of the U.S. Senate, you’d better know who the prime minister of Canada is.”

Canadians go to the polls today to decide whether to elect Mr. Martin, who assumed the post when his predecessor, former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, stepped down.

Mr. Coors defended himself later in Tuesday’s debate. “Bob, I do know that Paul Martin is the prime minister of Canada. I also know that he’s a liberal, and I was looking forward to learning the name of the new prime minister,” he said.

Jack vs. Jeri

While Senate hopeful Jack Ryan’s political career seems to have been destroyed by scandal, the Illinois Republican may have actually helped his ex-wife’s career. Some Web sites for fans of Jeri Ryan — an actress best known for roles on “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Boston Public” — have been forced to temporarily shut down because too many people were visiting them in light of the recent furor. Mr. Ryan dropped out of the Senate race Friday after the couple’s divorce papers revealed that Mrs. Ryan accused him of asking her to perform sex acts on him in public while attending a strip club.

“Due to the recent news story regarding Jeri’s ex-husband, there has been a huge increase in the number of visitors to this site,” reads the Web site WeAreTheBorg.com. “Due to the increased bandwidth usage, we have already greatly exceeded our bandwidth allotment and are facing a potentially large bill.”

The site says it will “remain down until the news story passes” and was still down yesterday.

And the site www.jerioholics.com was “temporarily suspended for exceeding the daily bandwidth quota,” said notice at that site yesterday afternoon.

Amy Fagan can be reached at 202-636-3194, or afagan@washingtontimes.com

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