- The Washington Times - Monday, February 12, 2001

Beg to differ

Former vice-presidential nominee Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman wasted no time walking onto the Senate floor to attack President Bush's 10-year, $1.6 trillion tax-cut proposal.
But that's to be expected, says fellow Democratic Sen. Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota.
"There is an old saying," says Mr. Dorgan, "that when everyone in the room is thinking the same thing, no one is really thinking very much."

Top constituent

The skyrocketing cost of natural gas in this country is no laughing matter, but we couldn't help but grin when Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin recalled "a telephone call I received a month or so ago from my consumer advocate in Illinois.
"Her name is Loretta Durbin. She is my wife. She called me and said: 'I just got the gas bill, Senator. What is going on here?' "

Double legacy

Just how much more money are Americans spending for heating fuel?
When introducing the bipartisan Small Business Energy Emergency Relief Act of 2001, Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, noted that the cost of oil nationwide in the last year has climbed 72 percent, natural gas has risen 27 percent and propane prices are up 54 percent. Except in his state.
"In Massachusetts the cost of these fuels have jumped as much as 100 percent," he reveals.

Pestering plans

One Democratic strategy we've obtained is to "start pestering the Bush administration to put its money where its mouth was" during the 2000 presidential campaign when it comes to tougher gun enforcement.
The Democratic Leadership Council says it will commence "pestering" while President Bush decides whether he's willing to "disappoint" conservative constituency groups or millions of Americans who responded favorably to his "moderate rhetoric" on the campaign trail.

Racicot's choice

Former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, who two months ago turned down President Bush's offer to be considered for the attorney general post, begins work today as partner in a Texas law firm with close ties to the president.
Mr. Racicot, whom conservatives deemed too centrist to assume the attorney general's post (even after he helped steer Mr. Bush through the legal mire of the Florida election recount) will hang his cowboy hat at the Washington office of Bracewell & Patterson, a Houston-based firm that also played a pivotal role in the Florida recount process.
The Montanan, who served as his state's attorney general before becoming governor, has been a close friend and adviser to Mr. Bush since the two first met in 1994.
Mr. Racicot says he turned down the offer on the attorney general post because he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Generic statesmen

"As I have always said, when you honor everyone, you honor no one."
Simply celebrating a "generic" President's Day, says Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Maryland Republican, diminishes the accomplishments of great presidents like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln "and rewards the mediocrity of others."
So Mr. Bartlett has introduced legislation to honor two of his favorite presidents, Washington and Lincoln, calling his bill the "Washington-Lincoln Recognition Act of 2001." He aims to accomplish two goals.
"First, my bill will correct a long-standing misconception regarding the federal holiday honoring Washington's birthday, which in law is designated 'Washington's Birthday,' but which is erroneously called President's Day by many since a 1971 [Richard M.] Nixon proclamation," he says.
"Second, my legislation urges our president to issue a proclamation each year recognizing the anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln. Although this does not create a new federal holiday, I believe it will serve to bring this great leader the recognition he deserves. At the present time, there is no official federal recognition of President Lincoln's birthday."

Tinker retires

Arthur Malan "Tinker" St. Clair retired from the Senate sergeant at arms office last Friday after 22 years of service.
"His leaving was inevitable," noted Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. "He is, after all, 85 years old."
Mr. St. Clair got his nickname from his grandmother while growing up in a West Virginia coal miner's camp, so curious that he was always "tinkering" with something.
Years later he would lead President Harry S Truman on a tour of those coal fields. He didn't move to Washington until 1979, to be closer to his children and grandchildren, going to work on Capitol Hill at the age of 63.
Mr. St. Clair says now that he's retired, he plans now to do a little traveling with his 82-year-old sister.

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