- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2000

Al's back

Former Sen. Alan K. Simpson, Wyoming Republican and healer of political relations on Capitol Hill, is coming back to Washington after nearly four years as director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University.

In a wide-ranging interview yesterday, Mr. Simpson says he'll join a government relations firm launched by his former chief counsel, Mike Tongour. The firm's new name will be the Tongour Simpson Group.

"I will not be registering as a lobbyist," says Mr. Simpson. "I don't want my former colleagues, who I've maintained real friendships with, to think every time they see me I want something. I don't want to rule out a phone call or an occasional appointment, but I'm not going to be sitting there while the meter is running."

Mr. Tongour was the senator's counsel from 1989 to 1995, previously serving as legislative director to Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican.

"People trust him," says Mr. Simpson, Republican whip from 1985 to 1995. "I'm amazed how successful he's been in such a short period of time, and he has a lot of nice future plans for the firm."

Another partner, Brad Holsclaw, worked for Senate Republican leaders Bob Dole and Trent Lott as a member of the floor staff from 1987 to 1998.

Mr. Simpson says he'll continue as a partner in the Denver-based law firm Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, heading the firm's Washington office in space provided by Tongour Simpson.

Al on Al

Few lawmakers on Capitol Hill earned the degree of respect and admiration from both sides of the aisle as former Sen. Alan K. Simpson, the jovial, lanky Republican from Wyoming.

Ask him about his dearest friends, and he'll say Kennedy and Cranston in the same breath as Bush and Dole.

"Leahy and I practically broke each other's glasses," says Mr. Simpson, describing the bear-hug welcome-back to Capitol Hill he received recently from Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat.

Before retiring from the Senate in 1996, Mr. Simpson lectured his colleagues on the importance of putting partisanship aside, saying: "If politics is your sole reason for existence, it is a very barren experience, a rather barbaric experience."

"How the hell is it," he asked Inside the Beltway yesterday, "that [House Speaker Newt] Gingrich never talked to [House Minority Leader Richard A.] Gephardt? What kind of stupidity is that? The American people are tired of that."

Yesterday, Mr. Simpson reflected on the 2000 presidential race, pitting Vice President Al Gore against Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

"George W. has done some heavy lifting a time or two," said Mr. Simpson, who remains close to the governor's parents, George and Barbara Bush. "He used to come into town when his dad was president, and he was always supportive of his dad's ideas, very loyal.

"So it wasn't surprising that if somebody on the staff wasn't doing what they were supposed to be doing to help George Bush, it would be tough, but George W. would say, 'You know, pop, this person is hurting you. They're not helping.' George W. Bush makes the engines run that is his singular strength."

As for Mr. Gore?

"He is one of the nastiest, most partisan people I ever ran into," Mr. Simpson said, leaving it at that.

Bush and Gore

Vice President Al Gore has gone and offended the Jewish people all over again.

Referring to National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston during his speech to the NAACP convention in Baltimore yesterday, Mr. Gore said: "If I remember my Bible correctly, the last time that Moses listened to a bush, his people wandered in a desert for 40 years."

The same remark, uttered by Mr. Gore only last month, was labeled "tasteless and offensive" by some Jewish leaders, one pointing out: "First of all, Moses didn't listen to a bush he listened to the voice of God."

Closing nothing

The U.S. Customs Service is in a bureaucratic quandary.

It wants to close the aging Trail Creek border station in Montana because the Canadians are closing their post on the north side of the border. There's just one problem: There's no record that the station, one of the state's oldest, ever opened.

Customs, therefore, isn't quite sure how to officially close it.

NASA to cyberspace

Intel Corp., the world's largest computer-chip maker, has named Sue Richard, director of media relations under President Reagan, to head press relations at its government-affairs office here.

After the Reagan years, Ms. Richard was associate administrator for public affairs at NASA under President Bush, and more recently was with the Personal Communications Industry Association and Dittus Communications, a high-tech communications firm.

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