- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

It is a huge contrast: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the emphatic victor so far in the Drudge Report’s online poll gauging the chances of 13 Republican presidential hopefuls. Mr. Walker won almost half the votes in the survey, launched Monday. When it closed late Tuesday, 449,964 people had clicked upon their choices — and over 199,095 of them voted for Mr. Walker. But there’s an inevitable disconnect between the perceptions of loyal Drudge readers and the mainstream media, which has predictably turned upon Mr. Walker like clockwork. A few recent headlines reveal all: “Scott Walker’s naive foreign-policy beliefs” (The Atlantic), “Why Scott Walker isn’t a slam-dunk for grass-roots conservatives” (Slate), “The vanilla power of Scott Walker” (Los Angeles Times), “Scott Walker presidential bid self-destructs on ABC’s ‘This Week.’” (Forbes). Democrats also are having a say, advising that Mr. Walker “would rather play political games, further polarize his state, and exacerbate an already dire budget situation,” this according to Democratic National Committee press secretary Jason Pitt.

“The more that Walker is viewed as a top-tier contender, the more that reporters will be digging into his record and his background,” writes Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz, who later adds, “We have a lot to learn about Scott Walker — and that, for him, is both a risk and an opportunity.” Rush Limbaugh, meanwhile, cites a succinct answer for Mr. Walker’s dominance of the Drudge poll, as well as a major polls in Iowa and Kentucky. “The base likes Scott Walker because he fights back,” the radio host told his big audience, adding that “consultants” can’t fathom it.

“I would think that everybody at the RNC and the consultant class who wants to win would be taking notes and would be talking to him and his people about how they did it. Instead, they’re trying to ignore it,” said Mr. Limbaugh.

AND ABOUT THOSE DRUDGE NUMBERS

Mr. Walker is in first place with about 199,095 votes, followed by Sen. Ted Cruz (58,844 votes), Sen. Rand Paul (51,770), Ben Carson (37,945), Donald Trump (23,974), Sarah Palin (20,935), Jeb Bush (18,864), Sen. Marco Rubio (14,955), , Rick Perry (6,268), Mike Huckabee (6,259) Gov. Chris Christie (5,726), Rick Santorum (3,038 and Carly Fiorina (2,291).

‘STAND STEADFAST’

“This horrific, savage killing is yet another example of ISIL’s contempt for life itself. The United States and its military stand steadfast alongside our Jordanian friends and partners; Jordan remains a pillar of our global coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, and this act of despicable barbarity only strengthens our shared resolve. We send our thoughts and prayers to Lieutenant al-Kassasbeh’s comrades, loved ones, and all Jordanians as we join them in mourning this tragic loss.”

— Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on the murder of Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot Lt. Moaz al-Kassasbeh.

‘PRESUMPTION OF OPENNESS’

Both Republican and Democrat are motivated by concern about public trust — and efficiency. Reps. Darrell Issa of California and Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland — also a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform — have introduced legislation to shore up the Freedom of Information Act, affectionately known as “FOIA” among journalists seeking information. The FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act of 2015 would “establish a presumption of openness” in America, while improving electronic accessibility for pertinent information, the lawmakers say.

“At a time when the American people’s trust in the federal government is at an all-time low, we must strengthen and refine our laws that enable transparency and openness in government,” says Mr. Issa. “Requests through the Freedom of Information Act remain the best tool for the American people to hold their government accountable. In this information technology driven era, it should be easier, not harder for citizens to have simpler and broader access to government information.”

And from Mr. Cummings: “This bipartisan legislation will strengthen one of our most critical open government laws by bringing greater sunlight to federal agency actions,” said Mr. Cummings. “There should be a presumption of openness in this country, and agencies should have to justify their actions when they want to withhold information from the American people.”

Under the act, an agency could only withhold information if it reasonably foresees that disclosure would cause specific identifiable harm. The bill also places the burden on the agency to demonstrate why information is withheld and requires the agencies to post frequently requested information. It also would establishes a single online portal for all those FOIA requesters in press and public.

MR. SANTORUM GOES TO WASHINGTON

A tenacious White House hopeful will be in the nation’s capital on Wednesday. That would be Rick Santorum, who has not abandoned his mission to uphold American values and reach out to voters who also share the cause. It is of note that Mr. Santorum is now CEO of EchoLight Studios, which has produced a surprising number of well-received films geared toward a specific audience: “families of faith.”

Mr. Santorum joins Family Research Council president Tony Perkins at the organization’s headquarters for a showing of “One Generation Away,” a docudrama that chronicles the erosion of America’s religious freedoms and features interviews with, among many, Mike Huckabee, Hobby Lobby president Steve Green and Fox News contributor Todd Starnes. A question/answer session follows.

“Americans need to realize their religious liberties are slowly degrading. No matter what religion you ascribe to, if we don’t do something about this soon, we will be on the verge of losing our religious liberties completely,” advises Mr. Santorum. The film will also be nationally simulcast at 70 locations across the United States, including churches and universities.

THE BUFFETT ZONE

FOX Business Network’s Liz Claman will interview uber-investor Warren Buffett live from Omaha on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET. This is the first interview of the year for Mr. Buffett; interesting predictions likely in store.

POLL DU JOUR

55 percent of Americans oppose a proposed gas tax not before the U.S. Senate; 63 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of independents and 23 percent of Democrats agree.

25 percent favor the tax; 20 percent of Republicans, 19 percent of independents and 36 percent of Democrats agree.

54 percent say gas taxes should only be used to fund road construction and maintenance; 78 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 43 percent of Democrats agree.

18 percent say the taxes should be used to reduce carbon emissions; 4 percent of Republicans, 18 percent of independents and 26 percent of Democrats agree.

47 percent say vehicle registration fees should be used to fund roads; 51 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of independents and 49 percent of Democrats agree.

40 percent say road tolls should be used to fund roads; 38 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of independents and 44 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 26-28.

Whines and whoops to jharper@washingtontimes.com; follow her @HarperBulletin.

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