- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 3, 2001

Changing the subject

California's electricity crisis cast a pall over the Democratic state convention in Anaheim last weekend, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"The convention locale, in the heart of once-reliably Republican Orange County, spoke volumes about Democrats' near-control of the state political scene. But the dimmed lights inside the convention hall, a conservation measure imposed by management, spoke volumes, too," reporter Mark Z. Barabak writes.

"So Democrats spent the weekend doing their best to change the subject and point their fingers at someone else: President Bush," the reporter wrote.

"A scant 70 days into his term, Bush was lambasted for everything from his fractured syntax to the controversial way he took office, thanks to the 5-4 decision of a bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court. One speaker after another attacked the president for barring funds for international family planning programs, rolling back worker safety rules, reversing his campaign pledge to limit carbon dioxide emissions and suspending new arsenic restrictions for drinking water."

Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, the top House Democrat, was on hand to do his part, saying: "This is a president who, in every way, is doing what wealthy special interests want."

However, national party Chairman Terry McAuliffe did raise the subject of energy shortages blaming the problem on Mr. Bush: "His attitude is pretty easy to sum up. Bush to California: Drop dead."

Bush's blasphemy

"When Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman told reporters last week, 'No, we have no interest in implementing [the Kyoto] treaty,' she unleashed a hysteria in Europe unmatched even by the United Kingdom's current troubles with foot-and-mouth disease," writes Philip Stott, professor of biogeography at the University of London and co-author of "Political Ecology: Science, Myth and Power."

"It was as if George W. Bush had pressed the nuclear button. Why?" Mr. Stott asked in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

"The reason is simple. In Europe, 'global warming' has become a necessary myth, a new fundamentalist religion, with the Kyoto protocol as its articles of faith. The adherents of this new faith want Mr. Bush on trial because he has blasphemed.

"Nobody will understand this in the U.S. if they fail to grasp that 'global warming' has absorbed more of the emotional energy of European green pressure groups than virtually any other topic. Even biotechnology fades into insignificance by comparison. Americans must also understand that the science of complex climate change has little to do with the myth. In the U.S., the science is rightly scrutinized; in Europe, not so."

The science of "global warming" is deeply flawed, Mr. Stott added, but this fact is "drowned out in the warming waffle now emanating so shrilly from Europe. Yet, because the science is so flawed and uncertain, why should anyone sign up to a treaty that clearly will not work? To put it simply: The idea that we can control a chaotic climate governed by a billion factors through fiddling with a couple of politically selected gases is carbon claptrap."

Fox, Bush and Helms

"A remarkable confluence of personalities and economic forces bids fair to break the logjam along the Rio Grande," New York Times columnist William Safire writes.

"It began when Mexican voters stunned the continent by ending the one-party rule that had corrupted their country for seven decades and installed Vicente Fox a charismatic but sensible businessman as their leader," Mr. Safire said.

"That break with the past coincided with the emergence of George W. Bush on the U.S. political scene. In his first interview on foreign affairs a couple of years ago, the new candidate struck me as no whiz on most of the world, but as governor of Texas showed he was deeply interested in his neighbor to the South. Just as education was Bush's strong suit on domestic policy, Mexico was his closest-studied area of foreign affairs.

"The third player in this developing drama is Jesse Helms of North Carolina, chairman of Senate Foreign Relations, bete noire of dovish liberals, whose hard line on Cuban communism and Chinese cruelty has long extended to U.N. bureaucratic waste and the old Mexican regime's endemic corruption."

Mr. Helms has surprised some observers by supporting the rapprochement between the United States and Mexico. In fact, Mr. Safire said, "The Senate Foreign Relations Committee of Mexico and the group of the same name in the United States will soon announce a mid-April gathering in Mexico City that is unprecedented: It may just be the first joint meeting between a committee of the U.S. Congress and a committee for a foreign congress or parliament. (Only in America!)"

Cheney's compensation

Halliburton Co. said yesterday that it paid Vice President Richard B. Cheney more than $2 million last year before he left the company to pursue the vice presidency as George W. Bush's running mate.

The company, the world's largest oil-field services company, disclosed in a proxy statement that it provided Mr. Cheney a compensation package that totaled $2.4 million when he was chairman and chief executive last year, Reuters reports.

Mr. Cheney, who left Halliburton in August to join Mr. Bush in his bid for the White House, did not receive any restricted stock or options, the company's filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed.

His 2000 compensation included a pro-rated bonus of $1.5 million, a $806,332 salary and $100,775 in other compensation, according to the filing.

The proxy, an annual report to shareholders, also showed that Mr. Cheney exercised options last year on 826,667 shares valued at $22 million.

The company said Mr. Cheney holds outstanding options for 433,333 shares and has entered into an irrevocable agreement to donate to charity the after-tax proceeds from the exercise of all of his outstanding options.

Junction of controversy

The Christian Coalition has waded into a Grand Junction, Colo., election in a bid to oust the incumbent mayor over his vote on the Ten Commandments.

Some 7,000 letters have been mailed to voters attacking Mayor Gene Kinsey for opposing a compromise plan to retain a tablet containing the Commandments, which sits in front of City Hall, Scripps Howard News Service reports.

Whether the mailing will hurt Mr. Kinsey in today's five-way race for his council seat is not clear.

The issue of removing the tablet has fanned widespread passions in Grand Junction since the issue came into focus following a threat by the American Civil Liberties Union to file suit.

Responding to strong public pressure, the council decided March 19 to retain the tablet, but place a disclaimer in front of it asserting no intention to establish a religion. The panel also set in motion a plan to add reproductions of other historical documents in an effort to avoid litigation by making the area a "cultural heritage plaza."

Crisis of consistency

"ABC mocked Bush's use of the term 'energy crisis' only to employ it the next night to plug a story," Brent Baker of the Media Research Center writes.

"On Thursday's 'World News Tonight,' White House reporter Terry Moran scolded President Bush for using the term 'energy crisis,' arguing that since 'there are no gas lines and the price of crude oil is actually declining,' he only engaged the term 'in order to sell his energy agenda.'

"The very next night, fill-in anchor Charles Gibson plugged an upcoming story: 'When we come back, America's energy crisis. Gas prices are soaring and they'll get even worse this summer.' "

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