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The Libby commutation set the liberal left’s grass roots on fire.

“Paris Hilton served more jail time than [Libby] will,” said an e-mail from the liberal organizing and advocacy group MoveOn.org.

MoveOn started a petition drive aimed at pressuring Congress to push the White House harder for answers on Iraq war intelligence and domestic surveillance programs.

Cheney won’t testify? Subpoena him. He won’t come? Hold him in contempt of Congress and send over the police. And if that doesn’t work, impeach the guy,” the MoveOn e-mail said.

Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., Illinois Democrat, said the president had committed “crimes against the Constitution,” and urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reconsider her vow not to pursue impeachment.

The blog DailyKos.com advocated pressuring members of the House Judiciary Committee to begin impeachment proceedings.

Outside the White House, a small group of protesters marched, held signs, yelled into a bullhorn and gestured at pedestrians.

Conservative author Richard A. Viguerie, however, decried what he said were “crocodile tears” being shed by Democrats.

“This is an exact replay of President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon in 1974. By a constant drumbeat of attacks on Ford for the Nixon pardon, they knew they would damage him politically in the 1976 presidential race,” said Mr. Viguerie, who wrote a book arguing that Mr. Bush has “betrayed” the conservative movement.

“This assault is an early artillery barrage to damage the Republicans and elect a Democratic president and Congress in 2008,” Mr. Viguerie said.

Others on the right also pointed out what they called Democratic hypocrisy on the issue of presidential pardons, since President Clinton was widely criticized for issuing 140 pardons and 36 commutations on his last day in office in 2001.

“Wasn’t it Bill Clinton who was handing out pardons like lollipops?” Mr. Romney told the Associated Press.

Conservative commentators pointed out that Mr. Schumer in 1999 came out in favor of a presidential pardon for convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, saying that Mr. Pollard, who had served 13 years in prison, met certain criteria: “No danger is posed to society, real contrition is shown, and the sentence is disproportionate to others who have committed similar crimes.” Mr. Schumer’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Clinton declined to pardon Mr. Pollard, despite fierce entreaties from the Israeli government.