- The Washington Times - Friday, May 28, 2004

Spin city

The overwhelming majority of American newspapers decided that the warning of more terror attacks in the United States deserved front-page treatment yesterday — but not the New York Times, which not only buried the story on A14, but actually questioned whether Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III were playing election-year politics.

Out of the 169 front pages posted on the Freedom Forum Web site, 128 carried the story. Among the papers that didn’t run the story out front were the Los Angeles Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the New York Post. Nationally circulated USA Today did have the story, but the Wall Street Journal did not.

The headline on the New York Times story reflected its political spin: “As Ashcroft Warns of al Qaeda plan to attack U.S., Some Question the Threat and Its Timing.”

Sic the IRS on ‘em

A church-state separation group is asking the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate an outspoken Colorado bishop who has said that Catholics cannot receive Communion if they vote for candidates who break with church teachings against abortion, euthanasia, same-sex unions and stem-cell research.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State took issue with these remarks by Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs and told the IRS yesterday that the remarks, penned in a May 1 pastoral letter, could jeopardize his diocese’s tax-exempt status.

“The missive is little more than a thinly veiled effort to steer voters toward candidates like President George W. Bush and other Republicans who agree with the church on certain issues, mainly abortion,” said a letter from Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

“Colorado is also in the midst of a U.S. Senate race,” he wrote. “The two leading Democratic candidates support legal abortion, while the two leading Republican candidates are opposed to legal abortion in most instances. It is impossible to interpret Bishop Sheridan’s pastoral letter as anything but a command that Catholics must support the Republican nominee after the Aug. 10 primary election to remain in the church.”

Bush haters

“Boy, is it getting ugly out there, as very top Democrats broadcast their visceral and intense personal hatred for President Bush,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

Al Gore [Wednesday] ranted at Bush as ‘the most dishonest president sinceRichard Nixon.’ House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has called him ‘incompetent.’ Democratic chief Terry McAuliffe claimed he was ‘AWOL’ from the National Guard. …

“Bush-hating billionaire George Soros, funding anti-Bush ads, compared the president to Hitler. But mostly, other Democrats, like … John Kerry, seem to be cheering them on, not rebuking them. In fact, Kerry couldn’t resist a snide personal dig when Bush tumbled off his bicycle over the weekend. …

“‘Did the training wheels fall off?’ zinged Kerry — who, as it happens, fell off his own mountain bike a few weeks ago. …

“Other Dems insist the Bush attacks just tell it like it is,” Miss Orin said. “But they might want to ponder whether the personal tone of attacks on Bush helps explain why Kerry is stalled and tied in polls despite six weeks of nonstop bad news for Bush.”

Popular Arnold

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s job-approval ratings are soaring, according to two polls released yesterday.

The California Field Poll reported that 65 percent of voters approve of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s job performance — approaching record highs for any governor in the past quarter century.

Another poll from the Public Policy Institute of California reported that 69 percent of likely voters approve of the governor’s performance, the Associated Press reports.

Rowland digs in

Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland asked a court yesterday to block a subpoena ordering him to testify before a legislative committee weighing his impeachment.

Ross Garber, Mr. Rowland’s chief legal counsel, said the subpoena “tramples on the mandate of the balance of separation of powers.”

The state House Select Committee of Inquiry had ordered Mr. Rowland to appear June 8.

Mr. Garber said there are conditions under which the Republican governor would testify. But he refused to elaborate on what those conditions are, other than to say that the committee “would certainly have to withdraw its subpoena,” the Associated Press reports.

A little late, Bill

Bill Clinton’s efforts to promote global AIDS prevention and treatment programs are earning him praise — but some say it would have been better if he’d done more while he was in the White House.

Ira Magaziner, a White House policy aide under Mr. Clinton, told the Associated Press that Mr. Clinton “did more on the AIDS front during the ‘90s than any other leader in the world. But having said that, we would all say that none of us understood the magnitude of what was happening in Africa until ‘99-2000.”

President Bush, alarmed by the disease’s spread, particularly in Africa, said in his 2003 State of the Union address that the nation would commit $15 billion to a Global AIDS Program.

By comparison, the Clinton administration’s response to the worldwide AIDS epidemic in the 1990s was “distracted and unfocused,” said J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Historian Douglas Brinkley compared Mr. Clinton’s post-presidential legacy building to another former president, Jimmy Carter.

“Clinton’s AIDS involvement is to resonate with the Hollywood community. … Carter has a Baptist missionary mentality,” Mr. Brinkley told AP. “I like Clinton, but I think he’s in the humanitarian business for mass approval.”

Rolling Thunder

Leaders of Rolling Thunder, in town for the annual motorcycle “Ride for Freedom” to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, will stop by the White House on Sunday to endorse President Bush.

The group, which speaks out on issues of interest to veterans, voted overwhelmingly to back Mr. Bush at a business meeting in March, according to Rolling Thunder President Artie Muller.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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