- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Still lovin’ Bush

A small but piquant cultural moment from the Virginia countryside:

President Bush still has got some backup among those who hanker to fire up their pick-um-up trucks and warm up their yeehaws.

An attendee at a jam-packed Brooks & Dunn/Alan Jackson country music extravaganza on Sunday evening at Nissan Pavilion called yesterday to report that the crowd went crazy when Mr. Bush’s photograph appeared on the JumboTron screens during a patriotic montage of images.

“They hollered for all they were worth. W’s still got fans out there who definitely are not from inside the Beltway,” the attendee said.

Animal instincts

Republicans are more likely to reject evolution, according to a Gallup poll released yesterday. It revealed that 68 percent of the Republican respondents do not believe in the theory, compared with 40 percent of Democrats and 48 percent of the overall public.

“Belief in evolution has been injected into the political debate already this year, with much attention given to the fact three Republican presidential candidates — Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee and Tom Tancredo — indicated in response to a question during the May 3 debate that they did not believe in the theory of evolution, although they have attempted to clarify their positions in the weeks since,” said Gallup pollster Frank Newport.

“It is apparent that many Americans simply do not like the idea that humans evolved from lower forms of life,” he continued, also noting, “Being religious in America today is strongly related to partisanship, with more religious Americans in general much more likely to be Republicans than to be independents or Democrats.”

The survey of 1,007 adults was conducted June 1-3, 2007, with a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Where we won’t be

Maybe Ed Gillespie and Ken Mehlman might want to go, just for laughs. Or a martini, anyway.

“More than 500 of Washington’s young, progressive professionals are expected to attend the first, public fundraising event for the New Organizing Institute. The nonprofit organization runs the only campaign-training program in the country focusing on cutting-edge political technology and Internet organizing,” proclaims the group, which will assemble at the Connecticut Avenue club MCCXXIII in the District tonight.

“There is a whole new national wave of political professionals on the left who are moving up,” said director Rosalyn Lemieux, who adds that “technology-enabled political organizers” can fulfill “an urgent need in progressive politics.”

Girl power

Quick, somebody tell Hillary: Sen. John McCain hopes to woo the ladies, in New Hampshire and elsewhere. The Arizona Republican announced yesterday that a New Hampshire-based “Women for McCain” committee would soon be rallying women to support his bid for president in 2008.

Sen. McCain and his wife, Cindy, applaud the increasing role of women in elected office and American politics and believe this group will be instrumental in growing the campaign’s outreach efforts,” McCain spokesman Danny Diaz said.

The women are already chiming in, and in terms which would warm the heart of even the most calculating political handler.

“Now more than ever, America needs strong leadership,” said Mary Lyons of Portsmouth, N.H.

“He is the most knowledgeable candidate on how to handle the Iraq war and will put our nation’s safety first,” said Jayne Millerick of Bow, N.H.

Of his new found gal pals, Mr. McCain responded in kind. They are “women who want to create change in this country,” he said.

Slaughter House rules

The homeland security funding bill before the House today would postpone the implementation of tougher document requirements at U.S. land borders, reports United Press International’s Shaun Waterman.

Language authored by Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, New York Democrat and chairman of the House Rules Committee, would deny the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) access to funds to implement new rules until it has tested various forms of new ID documents.

“We have to force DHS to take the time to implement WHTI” — the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, of which the new rules are part — “in a rational manner that does not disrupt legitimate cross-border travel,” Mrs. Slaughter said.

Americans and Canadians now cross the northern U.S. land border in either direction with little more than a driver”s license by way of ID. The new rules require a secure document establishing identity and citizenship. But there is widespread concern from businesses and border lawmakers on both sides about the speed with which the changes are approaching and the lack of alternatives to the passport as a qualifying document.

Last week, Homeland Security suspended the WHTI rules it had introduced for travelers entering from Canada and the Caribbean by air. The huge backlog of passport applications was overwhelming the system and threatening chaos over the summer. And the numbers involved are tiny compared with those involved in land-border crossings, say travel industry lobbyists.

The Slaughter language would fence off $100 million of the quarter-billion allocated for WHTI in the 2008 appropriations bill. That money would not become available until DHS had tested and piloted both enhanced driver licenses and the new passport card to be produced next year by the State Department. The PASScard will not be in production until next spring at the earliest.

The loot on Newt

“The GOP grits teeth and smiles” when they ponder a possible Newt Gingrich run for president in 2008, according to the Politico’s David Baumann.

“In 1997, Rep. Mark Souder, Indiana Republican, wanted to dump Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House. Ten years later, he wants him to run for president — and he might even support him.”

“He’s the best idea guy in either party,” Mr. Souder said. “He should get in the race because I think we need someone who can push issues. … I haven’t made up my mind yet, but shoot, I might back him.”

Rep. J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, and former House speaker, said Mr. Gingrich should be ready to dive in.

“If he’s going to get in the swimming match, he’d better get in the pool,” the former wrestling coach said in an interview. “I’ve worked with Newt. I think Newt brings good ideas to the process.”

Mr. Gingrich, an author, pundit and leader of his own policy organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future, recently told Fox News he’d make up his mind around Sept. 30.

c Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.