- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 21, 2000

'The seven Solomons'

"Al Gore has finally found his controlling legal authority. He's counting on the Democratic judges of Florida to win him an election he couldn't win on his own," the Wall Street Journal says.

"And they just might be up to the job. One ominous sign was the Florida Supreme Court's amazing decision on Friday, at 4:30 p.m., to block Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris from certifying a George W. Bush victory by 930 votes with all overseas ballots counted," the newspaper said yesterday in an editorial.

"The seven Solomons issued their injunction without even being asked: The Gore team hadn't filed its brief yet. This by itself is unheard of, barring fraud, which no one alleges here. The court said it wanted 'to maintain the status quo,' yet it allowed hand recounts in Democratic precincts to continue. So the only status quo being maintained is the part helping Mr. Gore.

"The court's injunction also achieved the rare trifecta of overruling all three branches of Florida government at once. It overrode an elected executive officer, Ms. Harris, who was implementing deadlines enacted by an elected legislature. And it overrode Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis, who had twice upheld Ms. Harris' use of her discretion."

The Gore army

"Enough Boston lawyers have descended on Broward County that one Massachusetts lawyer guessed that they could field a quorum for a meeting of the Boston Bar Association," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Responding to a mass e-mail seeking help [for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore] in Florida, some fanned out to Tallahassee to plot court strategy to keep the hand counts going. Others filed motions and fired off memos every time this state's Republican secretary of state, Katherine Harris, set up what Democrats saw as another roadblock to Gore's march to the Electoral College," reporters Elizabeth Mehren and Jeffrey Gettleman wrote in Friday's editions of the newspaper.

Meanwhile, in an abandoned Payless shoe store in the same Florida county, "vanloads of AFL-CIO staffers and Gore loyalists from New York, Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia, San Francisco and elsewhere had disembarked to learn how to observe the ballot count," the reporters said.

"The makeshift ballot-observing school is part of the party's network of 'orientation centers' that have sprung up all over Florida in the last few days to train hundreds of volunteer observers to deliver for Gore.

" 'Our goal,' said one lawyer as he patiently lectured his new charges, 'is to preserve the Al Gore vote.' The volunteers nodded. 'It's very, very important that if you see any kind of mark a scratch, a dent, a pinprick in Al Gore's column that you challenge.'

"When someone then asked what they should do if they found a Bush ballot with an indent, the lawyer said: 'Keep your lips sealed.' "

Party of lawyers

"The Gore campaign's first significant action once the election went into overtime was the launch of a kind of Mariel boat-lift of sharks in pinstriped suits to Florida. The intent from the start has been to sue Gore's way to victory," National Review editor Rich Lowry writes in the New York Post.

"Trial lawyers are important to the Democrats partly as a matter of finances. The attorneys fasten on targets of opportunity whether tobacco companies or the makers of breast implants and bleed them of resources, which are then used to fatten their own wallets and eventually passed on to the Democrats in political contributions," Mr. Lowry said.

"But trial lawyers are in sympathy with the Democrats on a much deeper level. They are a living, breathing, tassel-loafered representation of the Democrats' 30-year reliance on the courts to effect their social and political agenda.

"Whether it is banishing prayer from public schools and high school football fields, or keeping infanticide legal, or in the case of the Microsoft antitrust suit regulating high-tech industry, the Democrats have relied on judges to impose their ideas on the public from on high."

Lucky lobbyists

"Not everyone in Washington is boo-hooing the presidential election crisis and associated gridlock-producing congressional elections," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.

" 'Gucci Gulch,' slang for the capital's legal, lobbying, and PR industry, is uncorking the champagne. 'Everyone needs a friend,' says Steven Weiss of the watchdog Center for Responsive Politics. 'Lobbyists love gridlock because that means everyone needs a lobbyist.'

"It's especially good for firms that work both sides of the aisle, such as Preston, Gates. 'Issues are not going to be muscled' because neither side has the upper hand, says the firm's chairman, Manny Rouvelas. 'You need to build bipartisan coalitions to get things done.' Adds PR exec Greg Mueller, of Creative Response Concepts, 'Gridlock makes every bit of legislation a battle.'

"But Kenneth Feltman, president of the American League of Lobbyists, says gridlock could make Washington irrelevant, sending business to state capitals. That's a minority view. 'I don't think it matters if it's Bush or Gore' as prez, says Rouvelas. 'If you're not at the table, you're going to get stung.' You've been warned."

Jeb's faith

Jeb Bush's older brother is the one with a job on the line, but Florida's governor says the stress on him has been rough as well.

"It has been a pretty intense period, before, during and after the election," he said of the stretched-out presidential race between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore. "But I have faith this will work out. I've talked to my brother and he's at peace with what's going on, and he'll accept it, whatever happens."

As the election disputes drag on after two weeks, the Florida governor is under fire for many reasons, ranging from not being able to lock up Florida for his brother to having the state's electoral process be considered confusing at best, a travesty at worst.

In his view, the battle has left Floridians a divided people, the Associated Press reports.

"There's going to be a lot of hurt feelings, and my duty will be to heal the wounds and get back to the business of the state," Mr. Bush said yesterday.

Feingold's math

"The recent election will install in the Senate enough supporters of campaign-finance-law changes to make possible the enactment of a ban on unregulated 'soft money.' Or so Sen. Russell Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, predicted," National Journal reports.

" 'I honestly believe the filibuster [on this issue] is dead. I don't think it can be sustained any more,' declared Mr. Feingold, who along with Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, is the ban's lead co-sponsor.

"In the last go-round, they and their supporters fell five votes short of the 60 votes they needed to overcome a filibuster. But Democratic Senate wins in Delaware, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and possibly Washington state boost the pro-ban contingent by at least five votes, Mr. Feingold calculated. He's also counting on some of his GOP colleagues to come around."

Drumroll, please

Friday on "The Late Show," CBS funnyman David Letterman offered his "Top 10 Least Popular Dr. Seuss Books." Some entries:

No. 10 "Horton Demands A Recount."

No. 8 "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Still Too Close To Call Fish."

And No. 1 "How Joseph Lieberman Stole Christmas."

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