- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Borking Smith

"With Bradley Smith, the campaign-finance reform movement has taken its first real hostage," the Wall Street Journal says.
"Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota has put a hold on the mild-mannered law professor's nomination to the Federal Election Commission, thus threatening a filibuster that could permanently derail him," the newspaper noted in an editorial.
"Why are liberals so intent on making sure Mr. Smith doesn't come to Washington? His scholarly writings show that less regulation, not more, would lead to competitive elections and better-informed voters. 'Smith is this year's low-profile Bork,' admits The Washington Post. Media critics, always so good at helpful perspective, have compared him to the Unabomber and David Duke. Last month, Mr. Smith was denounced by President Clinton, the very man who has reluctantly appointed him to fill a Republican vacancy on the FEC."
The newspaper observed that "rhetorical missiles against this free-speech watchdog are being launched by many of the same people who led assaults in the past against Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. We trust the Senate will continue to show courage on this nomination. This Mr. Smith should go to Washington."

But is he an alpha ram?

Several presidential candidates have visited upstate New York in recent days, and a Buffalo television station seemed to be showing the strain of covering all the different politicians as they invaded the region in advance of today's primary elections.
On Saturday morning, the local NBC affiliate broadcast a report about Texas Gov. George W. Bush arriving at the airport in Buffalo to greet supporters. As she finished the report about Mr. Bush, the anchorwoman announced, "And Vice President Al Gore will visit western New York today on the campaign trail."
But as she spoke, on the screen viewers were shown instead a flock of bewildered-looking sheep wandering in a pasture. Studio personnel could be heard on TV laughing at the gaffe.
Maybe they were thinking of a bleating-heart liberal.

Cowardly expedience

Former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, Vice President Al Gore and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton "have retreated to the most cowardly sort of expedience," writes Samuel Freedman, a professor of journalism at Columbia.
"They have loaned their own stature to Al Sharpton's campaign to rehabilitate his image without actually changing, except for sprouting some gray hairs in his pompadour," Mr. Freedman said in an opinion piece in USA Today.

McCain's complaint

Arizona Sen. John McCain has filed formal complaints with the Federal Election Commission and the Federal Communications Commission over television ads paid for by two supporters of Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
The advertisements, purchased by Sam and Charles Wyly, attacked Mr. McCain's record on the environment. A disclaimer at the end of the advertisements says they were paid for by "Republicans for the Environment."
Mr. McCain's complaint says there is no such group, and he asks the FCC to order the ads removed from the airwaves immediately, Bloomberg News reports.
"We think we have a reason for the FCC to take down these ads, because there is no such thing as 'Republicans for the Environment,' " Mr. McCain said. "It's two millionaires in Texas."

Network censorship

The Republican Party yesterday gave out the phone numbers of Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather and urged Republicans to call the network anchors to protest coverage of a Democratic fund-raising trial.

Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson told the Associated Press that the evening news programs didn't devote enough time to Thursday's conviction of Vice President Al Gore's former fund-raiser for arranging illegal contributions to Democrats during the 1996 campaign.

Maria Hsia was convicted of five felonies over more than $100,000 in illegal contributions.

The "CBS Evening News" devoted 23 seconds to the story Thursday evening, Mr. Nicholson said, while ABC's "World News Tonight" logged 19 seconds.

NBC's "Nightly News" did not mention the story at all, he said.

Both The Washington Times and The Washington Post put the story on the front page.

"I think it's neglect," Mr. Nicholson said. "If she had been a Republican operative who had brought money to a Republican candidate, there would have been an absolute uproar."

Network representatives say Mr. Nicholson's protest was unusual in including the office phone numbers of the anchors and their bosses and, in some cases, their e-mail addresses.

His call to arms was issued via e-mail to about 10,000 Republican activists and radio talk-show hosts across the country.

Yesterday, Mr. Nicholson said the networks had responded to the protest by disconnecting their anchors' e-mail accounts.

"The callers who can actually get through to Peter Jennings' office are being hung up on right after they mention Maria Hsia," Mr. Nicholson said.

Bush a hit on Leno

Less than a week after he bombed with David Letterman, George W. Bush sought a comedic rebound Monday on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

The comedian asked the Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate about his family and his courtship of his wife, but also made light of Mr. Bush's conceded partying past.

"When you were out at a frat party, having a good time at Yale, partying with the boys, were you ever thinking, 'You know, I don't want to have that beer. I might be running for president.' Did that ever cross your mind?"

Mr. Bush deadpanned: "No."

The late-night talk show opened with a skit making fun of Mr. Bush's performance on a pop quiz earlier in the campaign.

Mr. Leno was filmed searching the studio before finding Mr. Bush in his dressing room.

"Who is Tony Blair?" said Mr. Bush. "Who is Boris Yeltsin?"

Mr. Leno looked incredulous that a candidate would not know the names of such contemporary British and Russian leaders.

Mr. Bush, indignant himself, said he was having a daily briefing with an adviser. The camera then panned back to show Mr. Bush with Alex Trebek.

"All right governor, once again the category is foreign leaders. Who was the prime minister of Israel from 1996 to 1999?" said the host of "Jeopardy."

Mr. Bush replied: "Who is Benjamin Netanyahu?"

Thrilled with the correct answer, Mr. Leno pumped a fist and said, "Yes."

By a hair

Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg now rates Rep. Michael P. Forbes, the New York Republican-turned-Democrat, as the most vulnerable of 406 House incumbents seeking re-election.
"I would make him an underdog because the Democrats never accepted him and the Republicans are out to get him," Mr. Rothenberg told the New York Times, adding, "It's early to entomb an incumbent, but my gut tells me that Mike Forbes is toast, and if any incumbent is hanging on by a microscopic hair, it's Mike Forbes."

Laugh it up

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton may be in for a shock when she attends the Inner Circle show Saturday at the New York Hilton, the New York Post reports.
The event is the New York news media's version of the Gridiron Club, in which reporters, pundits and newsmakers make fun of each other. Lynn White of Fox News will be wearing a knockoff of Jennifer Lopez's provocative Grammy dress.
"Audience member Hillary Clinton, who will probably be sitting as far away from Mayor [Rudolph W.] Giuliani as possible, will be treated to the sight of the scantily clad White/Lopez running off with a colleague in the role of Bill Clinton," the newspaper reports.

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