- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2001

Gore's 2004 plan

"Former Vice President Al Gore, AWOL on President Bush's rollback of Clinton-Gore environmental initiatives, is taking the first steps toward challenging the prez in 2004 on get this environmental issues," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.

"Associates say he is planning to spearhead a special environmental political action committee that will fund green candidates. He's also considering the establishment of a nonprofit center to push his issues. 'My own personal opinion,' says close ally Katies McGinty, the ex-head of the Council on Environmental Quality: 'Al Gore most certainly is running… . Al Gore most certainly will run.'

"Insiders say he will copy his Electoral College strategy with one change forget Tennessee and dump cash in New Hampshire, which he barely lost. But he may be too late. Some greens are abandoning him because he has said zip about Bush's moves. 'We thought we could turn to him. His disappearance is extraordinary,' says one activist. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, planning his own presidential bid, has filled the void. 'When Gore does decide to speak,' says another activist, 'he'll run smack into Kerry.' "

Hyde's answer

Rep. Henry J. Hyde, chairman of the International Relations Committee, was asked on CNN if the Bush administration would be "well-advised to back away … from the intervention of past Democratic administrations" in such world trouble spots as the Balkans, Korea, the Middle East and Ireland.

"I would say 'yes,' but on a selective basis. I think each situation should be determined on its own terms," the Illinois Republican said Saturday in an interview on "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields."

"I don't think we should become isolationist and pull the blanket over our head, but, at the same time, we aren't a universal 911. There are other military forces, political forces in the world that ought to be utilized and mobilized. But I do think there are circumstances where we would have to intervene."

Pundit Mark Shields asked Mr. Hyde if the United States isn't already getting a cold shoulder from some of our European allies on issues such as "going it alone on CO2" or "pulling out of Bosnia."

The congressman didn't hesitate. "You know the old saying, Mark, 'If you want to have a friend in Washington, buy a dog.' I think that applies internationally just as well as domestically." Mr. Hyde said.

Going nuclear

Twenty percent of the electricity used in this country is generated by nuclear power, and Vice President Richard B. Cheney says he would like to see that proportion increased significantly.

"I would like to see it go up because I think it's one of the ways to deal with this whole question of global warming … greenhouse emissions … that if you go with nuclear power, you don't have any carbon dioxide emissions," Mr. Cheney said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"We also know the track record is, with respect to nuclear power plants, that they can … be operated very safely. It's one of the safest industries around," he added.

Asked by host Tim Russert if the Bush administration will sponsor "a whole new program of developing nuclear power," the vice president said the president "hasn't made a decision yet."

But Mr. Cheney said the president has told him he wants nuclear power to be one of the issues examined by a federal task force that is preparing an energy policy.

"My views are that this is an important area for us. We need to build … 65 new power plants a year in this country for the next 20 years, at a minimum. Maybe 90 plants a year," said Mr. Cheney, who heads the task force.

"My own view is that some of those ought to be nuclear, and if they are, that that's the environmentally sound way to go," he said.

In no hurry

Vice President Richard B. Cheney indicated yesterday that it may be some time before a decision is reached on whether to reopen Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.

"There are serious security questions relating to that issue, and the president has agreed to take a look at it and review it, but it's not an easy call," Mr. Cheney said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"In fact, there are legitimate security concerns here that the Secret Service has, and we have to evaluate those as well as the desire of a lot of people who want to reopen it."

When asked when a decision will be made, Mr. Cheney replied: "I don't know. If a timetable has been established, I'm not aware of it."

Bush's timely example

"We don't know, and probably shouldn't even guess, how many Americans took up philandering or playing the saxophone by the example of Bill Clinton," John Balzar writes in the Los Angeles Times.

"But we do know that certain presidents influence our national trends. Jack Kennedy, to name one, set the fedora back so far that it may never recover," Mr. Balzar said.

"We can hope George W. Bush does him better.

"If so, we'll thank him all the rest of our hard-pressed lives.

"Bush has endured more mockery than he deserves about his easygoing work hours and his exercise getaways.

"Who are these glib critics? As Bush might say, 'Get a life.'

"We ought to recognize that the man is onto something: Too much work and too little play is a woeful way to live.

"Who on Earth better to set an example for regaining balance in our days than the man in the Oval Office? …

"Time away from the crack of the whip is a genuine family value, not the flimsy kind that we hear postulated and see feebly legislated. And it's high time that someone stepped forward and reminded us to demand more of it.

"I don't know whether to clap my hands or cross my fingers, but for heaven's sake, let's do something besides give Bush a cold shoulder on this one."

Trashing e-mails

"E-mail has become an epidemic in Congress, as constituents and special interests alike display an increasing appetite for blanketing legislators with electronic opinions some valued, most not," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

"The House was hit with more than 50 million e-mails last year up from about 2 million in 1998. The Senate absorbed nearly 27 million messages in 2000, 15 times as many as in '96," reporter Peter Nicholas writes.

"But in trying to keep pace with a public eager to be heard, lawmakers in many cases are just not listening, trashing up to half those e-mails without even reading them… .

"Congressional e-mail is creating unusual tensions. While the volume is growing, staffing is not. With fewer aides than before the Internet era, offices can be compelled to comb through thousands of e-mails a day, separating heaps of unwanted mass messages, or 'spam,' from the occasional heartfelt note that a constituent painstakingly composed."

Whitman defends judge

Former New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman is defending her state Supreme Court nominee, saying he should resist legislators' calls for his resignation over the investigation of racial profiling by the state police.

Mrs. Whitman, who left office in January to become President Bush's director of the Environmental Protection Agency, said she saw nothing in Justice Peter Verniero's testimony to the state Senate Judiciary Committee to prove that he lied about his handling of the issue while serving as her attorney general during 1996-99.

"Peter has been very honest," Mrs. Whitman said Friday in Washington.

Mrs. Whitman's successor, Acting Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco, has called on Justice Verniero to resign, saying he wasn't forthright during his 1999 confirmation hearings for the high court.

Justice Verniero has refused to step down, and one lawmaker has drafted an impeachment resolution.

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