IN OTHER WORDS: Cuccinelli makes a case for accuracy

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Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II will be the first to tell you he isn’t afraid to stick his neck out and criticize fellow Republicans or those of similar political persuasions.

That includes big-time media personalities.

Fox News’ Bill O'Reilly, host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” which consistently draws among the highest ratings for shows on cable news channels, has made a recent incident in Norfolk somewhat of a personal cause lately. Last month, two Virginian-Pilot reporters, both of whom are white, were assaulted by a group of black teenagers. The paper did not report on the incident initially, and it surfaced in an opinion piece two weeks later.

This smells like a cover-up, Mr. O'Reilly insisted. They would have reported on the crime if the reporters hadn’t been white. This was racially motivated.

Mr. O'Reilly sent a crew down to Norfolk to cover the story earlier this month. His producer, Jesse Watters, returned to the show and reported that he thought there was a lot of racial animosity in the city and a lot of people in the black community are using the case, in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, as “leverage” or an avenue to “explode” - charges that were flatly denied by local officials.

Why hasn’t Mr. Cuccinelli’s office gotten involved? Mr. O'Reilly demanded.

“We find the attorney general’s apathy troubling, to say the least,” he said.

So last week, Mr. Cuccinelli went on the show and said that, contrary to Mr. O'Reilly’s queries, he doesn’t even have the legal authority to intervene.

Mr. O'Reilly challenged Mr. Cuccinelli’s statement that there wasn’t any indication of a cover-up in the case - but didn’t get very far.

“Right, because you have all the facts, Bill, just like Monday when you got it wrong on Monday,” Mr. Cuccinelli interjected.

“All right, I got it wrong on Monday, OK,” Mr. O'Reilly conceded.

“We gotta let this play out,” Mr. Cuccinelli said later in the interview. “You are on a news cycle. We’re on the cycle of trying to build a good case against more than one person. … We don’t want to do, ‘Ready, fire, aim.’ This is, ‘Ready, aim, fire.’ We want to get this right.”

Zing! Still, our takeaway from the exchange: Mr. Cuccinelli got the brash television host and best-selling author to admit that he was wrong.

Credit where credit’s due.

Making light

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. certainly has a way with words, often using folksy turns of phrase and historical references to get his points across.

He also has a sense of humor, which was on full display last week when he poked fun at himself while commenting on last month’s bitter stalemate between the House and Senate. The session ended with the General Assembly adjourning without passing a pair of key revenue bills.

Mr. Miller, Prince George’s Democrat, caught much of the blame from Gov. Martin O’Malley and House Speaker Michael E. Busch who accused him of stalling budget negotiations in an effort to force House passage of a gambling expansion bill.

The longtime Senate president has denied the charge but was at least in the mood to laugh last week while reflecting on the meltdown that led to this week’s special session.

“It was a dynamite session,” Mr. Miller said. “It was so dynamite, it exploded.”

While announcing details of the upcoming session, Mr. Miller was flanked by four members of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. He mentioned that a fifth member - Sen. James N. Robey, Howard Democrat - was supposed to attend but was suffering from kidney stones.

“After last session, I’m surprised more of us wouldn’t have that,” he said.

And to close out his stand-up routine, Mr. Miller expressed disappointment over how the special session will likely lead to passage of a House-proposed set of income-tax increases rather than a larger set of hikes the Senate had preferred.

“Some days you’re the bear and some days the bear eats you,” Mr. Miller said. “And I got bit.”

He’s here all week, folks! Or at least until Wednesday, when the special session is expected to end.

• David Sherfinski and David Hill contributed to this report.

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