- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2001

Hard to believe

Most New Yorkers did not believe Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton when she denied knowing her brother was being paid for helping secure presidential pardons for two convicted felons, according to a poll published yesterday.

The Zogby International poll in the New York Post showed 58 percent of respondents did not believe Mrs. Clinton when she spoke in public Thursday about her brother Hugh Rodham's work for a convicted drug dealer and a baldness cure scammer.

The pardons were just two by President Clinton during his final hours in the White House that have come under public scrutiny and marred Mrs. Clinton's first weeks as a U.S. senator.

The Zogby poll showed that 33 percent of respondents believed Mrs. Clinton when she said she knew nothing about her brother's efforts, for which he was reportedly paid $400,000. The poll also found that fewer New Yorkers had a favorable opinion of the senator than they did before the pardons controversy.

The survey of 502 New Yorkers was conducted Friday and Saturday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, the newspaper said.

The pollster said 51 percent had a favorable opinion of Mrs. Clinton while 46 percent had an unfavorable opinion of her. Last month, her favorable-unfavorable rating was 56 percent to 39 percent.

Popular question

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura got a round of applause from his fellow governors when he confronted Education Secretary Rod Paige with a question about funding for special education at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

"The federal government mandated special education and at one point agreed to pay 40 percent, but they haven't come close to doing that," he said. "I would like to remind the federal government that … all of our states would benefit greatly if the federal government could see fit to help fund the mandates it's given to all of us."

The independent governor later said that special education funding is a big and chronic problem for the governors.

"It's not sexy, so they don't want to do it because it won't get their names on any buildings," Mr. Ventura said.

Missing papers

"Efforts that piggyback off the current pardon controversy to see if former President Clinton favored contributors while Arkansas governor have dead-ended where else? at a Little Rock mini-storage," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.

"Briefly: Clinton's official papers and correspondence from his 12 years in office are protected as 'private property' from Freedom of Information Act snoops. Unlike past governors, Clinton didn't turn most over to state schools, leaving a big gap in state history documentation. Instead, a source who's seen them says they are in the mini-storage," Mr. Bedard said.

"John Ferguson, director of the Arkansas History Commission, says the University of Arkansas had Clinton's papers from his first term, 1978-1980, but they disappeared before the ex-guv's 1992 presidential bid. He also says no Clinton contributor lists exist. 'Sometimes a politician literally disposes of the records.' Ask about the papers and the mystery grows. Correspondent Suzi Parker says requests are rebuffed with, 'Don't ask about the papers.' But Skip Rutherford, head of the Clinton presidential library foundation, says they may go to the library."

A 'reporter's' sermon

"At President Bush's press conference [last week], Helen Thomas of Hearst Newspapers was supposed to ask a question," John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru write at nationalreview.com. "She delivered a sermon instead. Or maybe sermon isn't the best word here. We report, you decide:

"Thomas: 'Why do you refuse to respect the wall between the church and state? And you know that the mixing of religion and government for centuries has led to slaughter. I mean, the very fact that our country has stood in good stead by having a separation why do you break it down?'

"Bush: 'I strongly respect the separation of church and state.'

"Thomas: 'You wouldn't have a religious office in the White House if you did.'

"Bush: 'I didn't get to finish my answer, in all due respect… .'

"Thomas followed up Bush's lengthier explanation with: 'You are a secular official '

"Bush: 'I agree. I am a secular official.'

"Thomas: ' Not a missionary.' "

Opined Mr. Miller and Mr. Ponnuru: "And what is Helen Thomas? A self-righteous crank who contributes nothing to journalism. Let's hope nobody at the White House calls on her again for a long, long time."

Nothing but affection

"When Bush became president, the media expected conservatives to become his biggest problem, demanding more than Bush would be willing to deliver," Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

"Instead, Republican moderates, notably [Arizona Sen. John] McCain, have caused more trouble. Conservatives have swooned. For each sector of the conservative coalition, says [anti-tax activist Grover] Norquist, Bush 'got their hot button item and he got it right.' Pro-lifers were rewarded by reinstatement of the Mexico City policy, barring aid to international pro-abortion groups. The NRA was thrilled with [Attorney General John] Ashcroft's promise to run Project Exile, under which criminals who use guns are prosecuted swiftly in federal court, into a national program. NRA officials are also working with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez to eliminate gun control efforts by HUD. Religious conservatives, with a few exceptions such as Pat Robertson, like Bush's plan to fund faith-based social programs," Mr. Barnes said.

"The romance between Bush and conservatives is bound to get rocky. Should Bush compromise with Democrats on taxes or spending or missile defense, it would cause a rift. But after the first month of the Bush presidency, there is nothing but mutual affection between Bush and conservatives… ."

One-sided 'hearing'

The Congressional Black Caucus will hold a hearing on election process reform tomorrow on Capitol Hill, notes Peter Roff, national political analyst for United Press International.

"The program is divided into three panels. The first is composed of five Florida congressional Democrats. The second features leaders of five liberal civil right groups. The third contains leaders from the House and Senate; again, all Democrats," Mr. Roff writes.

Home of the jackals

"Minnesota Gov. Ventura, a day after saying he wants statehouse reporters to wear badges labeled 'official jackals,' seeks to further needle the media," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Greeting a group of visiting Camp Fire Girls, he urges them to go to the press room downstairs and ask, 'Is this where the jackals live?' "

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