- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2000

Answer man

"But we are in the busy season of the year, where prices generally go up a bit." White House spokesman Joe Lockhart, after a reporter tried to point out yesterday that gasoline prices in certain regions of the country have risen to more than $2 a gallon and continue to climb.

Show me a seat

Just how important is the 2000 elections? If you're one of the hundreds of Democrats seeking to recapture control of the House, plenty important.

According to Federal Election Commission records we reviewed yesterday, Democratic candidates in this year's congressional races report a $42.7 million (47 percent) increase in campaign receipts compared with the last election cycle. Similarly, receipts for House Republican candidates rose $47 million, or 44 percent.

But among the most notable gains, the FEC observes, are Democratic challengers in the House races, where 300 candidates have raised $29.2 million, an increase of 153 percent over the last election.

Beyond blather

More now on the Arkansas Farm Bureau's just-concluded fact-finding mission to Cuba, in which Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas Democrat, tagged along to become the first female senator to huddle with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro on his home turf.

We wrote yesterday that Mrs. Lincoln emerged from the meeting saying she is now "more confident than ever" of the need to lift the U.S. trade embargo with its communist neighbor.

Now, Jose Cardenas, Washington spokesman for the Cuban American National Foundation, is charging that "Blanche Lincoln and all of her fellow-traveling colleagues to Cuba are guilty of perpetrating a fraud on their constituencies when they claim Castro's 'socialist paradise' can be a viable market for American farm products.

"The fact is they can't produce one sober economist with knowledge of Cuba to explain how it is that a bankrupt Castro will be able to pay for one grain of rice from Arkansas producers."

"Ordinarily," he tells Inside the Beltway, "we [Cuban-Americans] would just dismiss her claims as just so much ideological blather, but the problem is they are setting up the American taxpayer to be left holding the bag for their illusory sales projections."

"Bet on it: When Fidel refuses to pony up the cash for food sales to Cuba, guess who will be tapped to make Blanche and her friends happy? You, me, and all other American taxpayers."

American dreamer

Former Sen. John Culver, Iowa Democrat, will duck into the National Archives at noon today to discuss his book, "American Dreamer: The Life and Times of Henry A. Wallace," purported to be the first full biography of the controversial former vice president under Franklin D. Roosevelt.

We say purportedly the first full biography having read a recent book review by Arnold Beichman, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, who said: "It is not."

"What it is is a cover-up of the Wallace political record forever stained by his support of Joseph Stalin and Stalin's American Communist Party," opines Mr. Beichman.

"Was Wallace talking in his sleep when in a 1948 appearance before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, he said: 'I would say that the Communists are the closest things to the early Christian martyrs,' or when as the 1948 presidential candidate of the Progressive Party, Stalin's wholly owned subsidiary, he said: 'The life of Christ is strangely parallel to the doctrines of communism.'?"

Besides veep, Wallace was a geneticist, an author, an economist, a businessman, held two Cabinet posts, and one year after being fired by President Harry S. Truman ran for president in 1948.

Ugly all around

Fox News managing editor and former ABC White House correspondent Brit Hume can't quite figure out why the Al Gore "slumlord" story didn't attract more media interest.

Or maybe he can.

"This is a man," Mr. Hume opines of Vice President Al Gore, "that belittles the compassionate conservatism that is argued for by George W. Bush, and purports to be the real thing, the real man of the people, the real man of compassion. And yet you see this unattractive sight on his own property.

"And I don't know whether it's better for him to say, 'Yeah, I knew about it, but I wanted to get [the tenant] out of there,' or to say he didn't know about it and was oblivious to it. Either way, it seems to me, an unattractive commentary on him.

"The only thing more unattractive has been the behavior in this instance of the news media. Major networks have ignored the story. Most major newspapers have run only one wire story on it. It's a pretty darn good and compelling story and the most shameful performance of all I think is the Nashville Tennessean, which ran a single wire story."

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