- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thompson ‘08?

Former Sen. Fred Thompson will take a step toward a formal presidential candidacy next week, several officials with knowledge of the plans told the Associated Press.

The Tennessee Republican will form a “testing the waters” committee, which will allow him to begin raising money and hiring staff without officially committing to a White House bid, AP reported yesterday. The creation of the committee, to be called “Friends of Fred Thompson,” will be paired with the start of his first major fundraising push.

The officials — who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plans were not public and cautioned that no final decisions had been made — said Mr. Thompson is discussing plans for a campaign swing through various early primary states in late June, and is considering several options for a formal announcement should he ultimately decide to enter the race. They said that one possible scenario would have him officially announce his candidacy over the July 4 holiday.

Tom Ingram, a longtime friend and political adviser to Mr. Thompson, told Reuters news agency: “His mind is made up to run if interest continues to be as intense as it is. The money is the next test.”

In another indication that he may be clearing the decks for a presidential bid, Mr. Thompson has given up his job playing a prosecutor on the TV series “Law & Order.” The actor yesterday asked to be released from the show after five seasons, series creator and executive producer Dick Wolf said.

“Although he told me he has not made a firm decision about his political future, he felt that, given the creative and scheduling constraints of the upcoming season,” he should leave “Law & Order,” Mr. Wolf said in a statement.

The season’s last episode, which aired earlier this month on NBC, drips with irony and indicates that the show’s producers were ready for Mr. Thompson’s departure.

“One day, this chair is going to be empty,” says Arthur Branch, Mr. Thompson’s character. Jack McCoy (played by Sam Waterston) retorts, “I’m no politician, Arthur.” To which Mr. Branch replies, “Yeah (pause), everybody says that.”

The screen went black.

On the defensive

“During the course of Bill Richardson’s ‘Meet the Press’ appearance Sunday, the New Mexico governor was on the defensive. Permanently,” John Dickerson writes at Slate.com.

“He tried to explain away his state’s low rankings on high-school dropout rates, poverty, and crime during his tenure, his bold statements as energy secretary that turned out not to be true, his 72-hour change of mind on the immigration bill, his stance on guns, the stock he once owned in an oil company, his brief support of Alberto Gonzales, his resume padding on his baseball career, and the story he tells on the stump about a dead soldier whose mother has asked him to stop telling it. Richardson is a world-famous hostage negotiator, so it was poignant to watch him fail to rescue himself from his own hostage crisis. By the end of the hour, he wasn’t answering questions so much as swatting at them. ‘I’m not perfect,’ he said.

“No one television interview should weigh too heavily on anyone’s career. … Still, on Sunday, Richardson was bad,” Mr. Dickerson wrote.

Mountain fun

The U.S. House’s special panel on global warming will hold a “mountaintop summit” next week to hear from climate-change specialists.

The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will hold a hearing at a mountain lodge in Franconia, N.H., on Monday morning, ChairmanEdward J. Markey announced yesterday in a pun-laden press release.

“With concern over global warming reaching new peaks, the [committee] will ascend a White Mountain peak to hold the first ever mountaintop ‘summit’ on the issue,” read the release, first reported yesterday on The Washington Times’ blog, Fishwrap.

Mr. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, will hear from several local witnesses about how global warming may affect New England and its tourism, jobs and culture.

“I think it is important for the members of this new committee to get out of Washington, where concern about this issue has lagged, and engage directly with businesses, government and concerned citizens at the local level,” Mr. Markey said. “On the summit of Cannon Mountain, we will have a spectacular view of a state that is concerned about its tourism industry, shorter ski seasons, changing foliage, and intense weather events which presage serious economic consequences if we don’t act.”

Embracing bias

Michael Moore a journalist?” the Business & Media Institute’s Dan Gainor asks at www.businessandmedia.org.

“That’s what Moore, the director of the new anti-healthcare industry movie ‘Sicko,’ told Entertainment Weekly. The June 1 issue gave the left’s Leni Riefenstahl a chance to show how he embraces bias and one-sided story telling.”

“His definition of ‘journalism’ showed he embraces the worst of the mainstream media. When asked if he had ‘an obligation to at least give the insurance companies the chance to say no to you’ about an interview, Moore showed his true propaganda colors. ‘Absolutely not,’ he responded. ‘They already have their forum. It’s called the nightly news. Their story is told over and over again. You never hear the other side.’

“Moore is right about the ‘other side’ never getting on the nightly news, but that side is the side of industry. According to a Business & Media Institute analysis of ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, ‘nearly 80 percent of the stories excluded the viewpoint of the pharmaceutical industry, failing to include either a company statement or a company spokesman.’ ”

Join the parade

Georgia and Alaska joined the growing list of states pushing up their presidential-primary voting to Feb. 5, a date clearly shaping up as a national primary day for Republicans and Democrats alike.

In Alaska, caucuses will be held that day. In 2004, Alaska Democrats held their caucus in March, while Republicans waited until the end of May to hold their convention.

“We wanted to make sure Alaska had a reasonable standing in the public debate,” said Randy Ruedrich, chairman of the Republican Party of Alaska. “We’re going to be on Feb. 5, along with what appears to be over half the country.”

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, signed a bill on Tuesday that pushed the state’s primaries up by a month, from March 4 to Feb. 5.

Greening of McKinney

The 2008 presidential campaign could get a lot more interesting if former Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney decides to seek the Green Party nomination.

Interviewed Friday on New York radio station WBAI, the Georgia Democrat was asked whether she’d run for the White House as a Green.

“With the failure of the Democratic Congress to repeal the Patriot Act, the Secret Evidence Act, the Military Tribunals Act, I have to seriously question my relationship with the Democratic Party,” Miss McKinney said, according to Ballot Access News (www.ballot-access.org). “The idea has not been ruled out. All the current Democrats running for president support the principle of potential military action against Iran; none of them is for impeachment of the president. They can’t speak for me. I am open to a lot of ideas in 2008.”

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

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