- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2000

Good afternoon

The Democratic National Committee hereby apologizes to every resident of West Virginia awakened in the wee hours midnight to 3 a.m. of Sunday by the voice of Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who is running for re-election.

The DNC blamed its telephone vendor (whose services have since been terminated) for not knowing the difference between a.m. and p.m.

Disengaged nation

Despite the likelihood of this being one of the closest presidential races in American history certainly the most expensive voter turnout on this Election Day is still likely to be low perhaps lower than the 49 percent of eligible voters who turned out in 1996 when Bill Clinton enjoyed a big lead over Bob Dole.

And 1996, the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate reminds us, was the lowest turnout since 1924.

For whatever reason, citizens ages 18 to 24, whose voting rates have plummeted in recent decades, appear less interested in this election than in 1996.

Seen enough

It's significant enough that Texas Gov. George W. Bush was endorsed by 138 leading newspapers across the country, including 14 major papers that endorsed Clinton/Gore in 1996, but an endorsement yesterday is particularly noteworthy.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, no less, which under its current ownership has never endorsed a presidential candidate.

Why break the streak?

"It has become more and more evident in this campaign who is the candidate of old ideas, of things as they've habitually been, and who champions new approaches to new challenges," the editors write.

Then, they add, there's the question "of character, of family, of honor."

From the heart

Everybody's talking about what a "Bush bash" Larry King's Cardiac Foundation Dinner turned into at Washington's Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

After the CNN talkmeister got things rolling by comparing a party siren to "a police car chasing Gov. George Bush," ABC talk-show host Bill Maher appealed to the crowd:

"Don't vote [against Mr. Bush] because of a DUI 25 years ago. Don't vote for him because he is an idiot."

Gore ball

A certain alumni of Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Va., can't resist providing a few observations from Saturday's football contest between his Cardinals and Sidwell Friends' Quakers.

In the Sidwell stands: Vice President Al Gore, who on this final weekend before the elections sprinted from Memphis, to Huntington, W.Va., and finally home to watch namesake Albert III carry the ball into the end zone.

In the Ireton bleachers: Tony Coelho, who managed Mr. Gore's presidential campaign until bailing out in June (as far as we could tell, Mr. Coelho never crossed over to say hello to his old boss).

If that's not enough political intrigue, Republican congressional candidate Demaris Miller, whose husband, Jim, was budget chief in the Reagan administration, came to schmooze with the crowd.

After she got the ceremonious heave ho, who should trot onto the field but her Democratic opponent, Virginia Rep. James P. Moran (who couldn't wait to shake Mr. Gore's hand).

Finally, the referees made several questionable calls leading up to Sidwell's lopsided victory. The same referees who afterward lined up to pose for pictures with Mr. Gore. Hmmm.

CEO elections

Members of Congress will continue to receive a "vast web" of taxpayer-funded perks when the 107th Congress convenes in January.

Despite high-profile attempts at reform, lawmakers will continue to enjoy job-related benefits and prerogatives that corporate executives and other government dignitaries would envy, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation finds after an exhaustive study.

"Congressional pay and perks directly add hundreds of millions of dollars to the taxpayers' tab, but the political price tag is much higher," NTUF vice president Pete Sepp tells us.

"They diminish lawmakers' moral authority to reject special-interest spending boosts, they tilt the electoral process against challengers, and they undercut long-term economic reform by insulating members from the 'real-world' effects of their own policies."

Among the perks: comfortable salaries, pension benefits two to three times more generous than those offered in the private sector for similarly salaried executives, health and life insurance subsidized partly by taxpayers, and acute care and hospital privileges.

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