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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What's the big idea?

Talk about appearing blindfolded before a kangaroo court.

Then again, CBS newsman-turned-author Bernard Goldberg might not have recalled before appearing last night on CNBC's "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" that the host was a lead member of the Clinton/Gore communications team in 1992.

"I've been doing this a long, long time, and I have never, ever, ever, never -- I could say never and ever 10 more times -- experienced what I just went through," Mr. Goldberg told Inside the Beltway late yesterday after he taped the show, which is to air tonight, from Miami.

"Deutsch disagreed with everything, and that is just fine," said Mr. Goldberg, the best-selling author of "Bias" who has written the new book "100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken is No. 37)."

"But then, unbeknownst to me, they brought on a panel of five, plus Donny, all of whom took the other side. And it's not like they just respectfully disagreed; there was name-calling, ganging up; it was unbelievable. And not one of them even read the book. They admitted it.

"It was more than an ambush," he said. "It was the most cynical, dishonest thing I have ever been lassoed into. They misled me."

Immediately after the taping, Mr. Goldberg said, he told the show's producer, Marilyn Cutler, that Mr. Deutsch had been "dishonest."

"I told her that she should be ashamed," he said. "A short time later, she called back, crying like a baby. She said, 'I am resigning.' And I told her, 'You should resign.' It was one big setup. And they used her to get me into it. They wanted to kick my [expletive] on national television -- six people, all basically calling me an idiot."

Reached at press time yesterday, Ms. Cutler said she had yet to speak to her boss, but as for resigning, she confirmed: "I am thinking about it very seriously."

New Jersey-based CNBC said last night, "We treat all of our guests, including Mr. Goldberg, with nothing but the utmost respect and courtesy."

The network said, "At certain points during the segment, Mr. Goldberg, the panelists and Donny did not always agree. We felt that it was a healthy and robust conversation."

Total surveillance

"Under a brooding portrait of Lincoln, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay took his seat a few tables away from the president."

Or so observed the official White House pool report of the state dinner this week honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh -- attended by, among others, the embattled Republican leader, who obviously can't shake the press -- and now even a "brooding" Abraham Lincoln's -- scrutiny.

Claim to fame

A most unique birthday celebration will take place today on Capitol Hill, as Rep. John Tanner, Tennessee Democrat, and other lawmakers join former presidential candidate John B. Anderson to celebrate the birthday of Elbridge Gerry, the father of gerrymandering.

Even better, the politicos will gerrymander a birthday cake -- cutting it, no doubt, into unfair slices to demonstrate how one party receives bigger chunks of the election-day cake.

Mr. Tanner, who led the formation of the Blue Dog Coalition (a group of moderate to conservative Democrats whose name harks back to "yellow-dog Democrats," squeezed so tightly by the far left and far right that they turned blue) is pushing the Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act, which seeks to end the partisanship he says drives congressional redistricting.

Gerry, an American statesman and former vice president who signed the Declaration of Independence, was a member of the Jeffersonian party. In his desire to retain his party's control of Massachusetts, he helped rearrange election districts in the party's favor -- which on parchment had a salamander-like shape.

From that day forward, the political maneuver has been known as gerrymandering.

Food and state

Much response to our item yesterday about North Dakota Sen. Byron L. Dorgan's gripe about outdated, year-old food being served to members of the U.S. armed forces who are fighting in Iraq.

"I am a veteran of the Korean War," writes John Nickel of Fort Myers, Fla. "In 1950 thru 1954 we ate sea rations that were dated 1940 thru 1944, so food outdated by one year would have been welcomed."

Meanwhile, it just so happens that Paul Jacob, senior fellow at Americans for Limited Government, writes in his column this week about French President Jacques Chirac saying recently that Britain -- "after Finland" -- has "the worst food."

"And, he added to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin, how can you trust a people with such bad food?" Mr. Jacob notes.

"I can agree that the Brits have a long and infamous history with, er, interesting food. Oh, I love fish and chips. And ale. I'll go further, too: French fare is far better. But I wouldn't trust either government over the other just because of their cuisine. Surely we can all agree to the separation of food and state."

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.