- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Living la vida legal

"I think my conservative view is that I should enforce the law as it is written. I think one of the elements of conservatism is to take the law as it is, and to work to enforce it, not to supersede the law with your own judgment or your own idea of what it should be. I don't want to do that. I think one element of conservatism is to say what the law is and to live by it."
Attorney General John Ashcroft after his first day on the job.

The happy hour

Things are still loony in the land of chads.
At least one of those people recounting the Florida ballots was drunk, the Republican Party of Florida claims.
According to several witnesses, temporary workers hired by media groups reviewing ballots for a third or even fourth time "routinely violated their own analysis standards, and in at least one case, have conducted their review while intoxicated."
Florida Republicans also noted that some workers did not use a special light box for accuracy, did not follow proper counting protocol and that a "clearly intoxicated man" reviewed hundreds of ballots last week in Clearwater.
"It is important to note that these ballots were not inspected by the three-member canvassing board," the party stated. "They were analyzed by the same supervisor of elections a Democrat."

Nonpartisan partying

What with Valentine's Day looming, inquiring minds perhaps ponder the state of politics and romance. Most of the time, they don't mix at least according to a new Fox survey, which questioned single people about their dating habits.
Sixty two percent of the respondents said that "politics does not come up" on a date while only 10 percent said they generally dated people who supported the same political party.
Incidentally, 17 percent had a positive acknowledgment to the query, "Date? What's a date?"

Rethinking Bill

As far as Bill Clinton's recent pardoning shenanigans, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman has urged everyone to forget about it.
"I certainly think that the pardon of Marc Rich was a mistake," he said yesterday. "But it's time to move forward."
But the Connecticut Democrat may have slowed his own retreat from the situation after some scholarly reflection.
"Is there any constitutionally appropriate legislation that we might adopt to ordain a process for the pardons?" Mr. Lieberman asked moments later. "We can't say what a president under the Constitution should consider in granting a pardon, but we may want to require that there be contact with the Justice Department on everyone that the prosecutors who were involved in the case be consulted."

Gore-y details

Professional scribes are not entirely impressed by Al Gore's recent foray into academia.
"Hopefully, the former vice president has a notebook full of those political-press relationship war stories for his national reporting seminar at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he is starting his post-chad life as a visiting professor," notes this week's Editor & Publisher, the journal of choice among newspaper folks.
"His appointment at one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the country confirms what readers have known for years there is barely any separation between political reporters and the people they cover. That perception will be reinforced at political fund-raisers where Gore's title as a visiting professor of journalism will be duly noted on the dinner program."

Horned toads, et al

Texas lawmakers just love bestowing monickers. Some 40 towns have been granted such official designations as the Seedless Watermelon Capital of Texas; the pecan was recently dubbed the Texas state "health nut."

Waxahachie is the Crape Myrtle Capital and Paris, the Crape Myrtle City. Odessa is the Jackrabbit-Roping Capital while Eastland County is the official home of "Old Rip, the Most Famous Horned Toad in Texas."

Now Republican state Reps. Bob Hunter and Jim Pitts want a little order. The pair have revived a "symbol slowdown" measure that would make it harder to pass proposals that bestow honors on tourist spots, among other things.

The measure would require lawmakers to file such proposals as slow-moving bills rather than resolutions, and would require items considered for state symbol or designation status to be of substantial historical or cultural significance.

"This would create a more uniform effort each session for us to thoughtfully consider these proposals for state symbol or place designation, which we feel is very important to the state's economic development and tourism efforts," Mr. Hunter said.

Gorgeous George

Hollywood has a new version of President Bush, and for once it has nothing to do with NBC's overexposed Will Ferrell.

Actor Timothy Bottoms who has played Texan he-men in both "The Last Picture Show" and "Texasville" has been cast as George W. in Comedy Central's "That's My Bush," which debuts April 4.

How kind will the channel be? Earlier this year, producers backed off an inane and unkind spoof of the president's daughters, Barbara and Jenna.

"This is really a satire of the American sitcom," said spokesman Tony Fox. ""They're making George out to be this wonderful, likable guy, as most sitcom stars are."

The name game

The year 2004 is just around the corner for Internet entrepreneurs intent on making a buck off potential Democratic presidential nominees, Roll Call reports.

So far, canny on-line developers have bought up the domain rights for Gephardt2004.org, Kerrey2004.org, Hillary-Clinton-2004.org, Biden2004.com, Tom Daschle2004.org and Bradley2004.com among others.

It's in the name of satire rather than profit. "It started with Gephardt. I don't know why, but I wanted to reserve the site for satire purposes," said Barry Johnson, who registered eight domain names. "He's the easiest person to make fun of on Capitol Hill."

Mixed greens

Winona LaDuke, who was Ralph Nader's former Green Party vice-presidential running mate, cast a mixed review of the fate of environmental politics these days.
She said the environment is at risk during the Bush administration, but that an Al Gore presidency wouldn't have been much better.
"Do I think that Gore was the lesser of two evils? Yes. I think Gore was the lesser of two evils, and I think Bush was the greater of the two evils," she said during an address at a Pennsylvania college yesterday.
"But I think that the system is flawed, and I still stand by the idea that you should be able to vote on your principles and you should be able to vote for people you believe in."
And did the Green Party cost the Democrats the election? No, Miss LaDuke said, but noted that both parties are tainted by big-business connections.

Fahgetaboutit

Recent studies of talk radio reveal that the most beloved topics are politics and the American way of life.
Peter DeVico has one more facet to add. The author of "From the Brooklyn Side" says that "mob talk mania is in full swing."
His book provides an education in "mob trivia and lingo" for those fascinated with organized crime. In January alone, Mr. DeVico did 18 interviews on various talk-radio outlets.
"People respond to what I say because I neither glamorize or flatly condemn the Mafia," he said. "I have an evenhanded approach and base what I have to say on factual information."

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