- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 28, 2001

Civil wars

Nowhere is the centuries-old rivalry between the North and South as spirited today as along the Maryland-Virginia border, as Maryland Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes and Virginia Sen. John W. Warner demonstrated on the neutral ground of Capitol Hill yesterday.

"Now, Mr. Chairman," Mr. Sarbanes declared at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee to consider the nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to be deputy secretary of defense, "I hope you won't hold it against him that he chose to live on the Maryland side of the Potomac and not the Virginia side."

"He will be working in Virginia though," replied Mr. Warner, referring to the Pentagon.

"If confirmed," he added.

Russians are coming

Congress has authorized the creation of a Center for Russian Leadership on Capitol Hill, earmarking $10 million this year to bring emerging Russian leaders to the United States.

Not that they haven't been among us.

Since 1999, 3,650 Russian leaders, including 150 members of the Russian parliament, have visited the United States under the auspices of what was called the Russian Leadership Program, or RLP, a two-year pilot project overseen by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

In that the RLP was deemed a success, Public Law 106-554 now establishes the Center for Russian Leadership, which according to Mr. Billington will enable Russia's emerging political leaders to gain "significant, direct exposure to the American free-market system."

Chief sponsor of legislation creating the center was Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican, who also sponsored the initial RLP pilot in 1999.

"Dozens of my colleagues in the Senate and the House have hosted their Russian counterparts under … the RLP and have seen firsthand the unique opportunity … to improve relations with a new generation of Russian leaders," says Mr. Stevens.

The new center will be independent of the Library of Congress, although the library is authorized to provide space and support services.

Ouch

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says she did not know about her brother, Hugh Rodham, receiving $400,000 to help secure presidential pardons, or about her campaign treasurer, William Cunningham III, assisting in pardon applications. Do you believe her or not?

That was the question the Marist Institute for Public Opinion put this week to 514 registered voters representing every county in New York. The answers: 12 percent are unsure, 30 percent believe her and 58 percent say she's lying.

Tilting right

Next year can't come soon enough for embattled Democrats, who have sunk to the minority on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Looking ahead to 2002, Democrats have 14 Senate seats up for re-election, notes Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, while Republicans are faced with the challenge of defending 20 seats. Fund raising, recruiting and advising, on the part of both parties, are well under way in all regions of the country.

On the House side, Democratic leader Richard A. Gephardt boasts that Democrats hold the "largest minority" in 50 years, picking up three House seats in November in what was the party's third straight gain.

Mr. Gephardt's enthusiasm is reinforced by a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee analysis of the 2000 vote, showing a shift of slightly more than 3,000 votes from the Republican candidate to the Democratic candidate in just five races around the country would have tipped House control to the left.

Boxing trials

Why were so many high-power lawyers from across the country convening in Tampa, Fla., in recent days?

It wasn't to recount ballots.

Seated at ringside at the Ice Palace for the "Greatest Pound for Pound Fighter" Roy Jones Jr.'s successful light-heavyweight title defense along with notables Jack Kemp and Evander Holyfield were lawyers Robert Bennett (of Bill Clinton fame) and Jack Olender from Washington; Harvey Weitz of New York, who is Johnnie Cochran's partner; and Phil Corboy, the dean of Chicago trial lawyers.

Why all the judicial interest in Mr. Jones?

First, Mr. Olender informs Inside the Beltway, "many of us feel a trial is like a fight where the winner takes all."

Second, reveals the veteran malpractice lawyer, "many of us have backgrounds as youths in boxing and continue to follow the 'sweet science.' "

Third, he says, "champion Roy Jones' adviser is Fred Levin of Pensacola, one of the winning Florida tobacco lawyers who promoted the fight, along with Steve Yerrid of Tampa, another tobacco winner."

And finally, concludes Mr. Olender, Messrs. Levin and Yerrid "are my fellow members of the Inner Circle of Advocates. Our 100 members are reputed to be the best pound-for-pound trial lawyers in the country."

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