- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2001

Battle stations
After their unprecedented — and effortless — coup that handed them control of the Senate, Democrats are now gearing up to defend their strategic half of Capitol Hill.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, we've learned, has raised more than $20 million in the first half of 2001. Of that, nearly $7 million was raised in June, right after former Republican Sen. James M. Jeffords, in the words of dethroned Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, "subverted the will of the American people" by becoming an independent aligned with the Democrats.
The DSCC fund raising is $8 million ahead of the Democrats' own record-breaking pace in the 2000 cycle, a presidential election year when money traditionally flows into campaign coffers.
"We have some tremendous opportunities in Senate races across the nation and this solid financial support will allow us to make sure that our candidates have the resources needed to win in 2002 … retaining the Democratic majority and control of the legislative agenda in the U.S. Senate," Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat and DSCC chairman, tells us.

As for Elian
Our "Mount Olympus" item on America's purported alienation from official Washington continues to generate immense response from around the country — much of it far too intriguing to ignore.
Reaction came from Allen O'Donnell of Wayne, Neb., who says, "Passionless, no — disgusted, yes"; Nick Olguin of Henderson, Nev., who sends us $25 to unseat the "obviously flawed gods who deem themselves infallible and toy with us mere mortals for their own edification and entertainment"; Richard C. Asper of Watertown, S.D., who bellows "a resounding 'Hear! Hear!'"; Paul Roberts of Sikeston, Mo., who says, "For some time now, I've felt that those in Washington, upon breathing the rarefied air of Mt. Olympus, become completely unaware of those of us living 'down here' in the real U.S. As a whole, I'm sick of the lot of them"; and J.M. McCown of Pensacola, Fla., who confesses, "I used be a total C-SPAN junkie, but the more that I see of the verbose suits that we elect, the more I prefer the Cartoon Channel. Bugs Bunny is a good remedy for the 'learned helplessness' generated by the empty, self-serving egos whose idea of governing does not include the welfare of the country."
But it's Jack Heeger of Napa, Calif., who got us laughing when he advised his fellow constituents not to bother sending questions or concerns to certain lawmakers. He wrote a letter about high gasoline prices on Sept. 19 (the day prices reached their peak in California) to his state's two U.S. senators, his congressman, state senator and assemblywoman representing Napa.
Most — including California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer — replied with generic letters, if at all.
Mrs. Boxer's response "contained a litany of things Boxer claims to have done, and the word 'I' was used 18 times," Mr. Heeger notes. But his favorite — and ours — was Mrs. Boxer's response to his letter about Social Security taxes: "I have said from day one that Elian belongs with his father."
"Do you think anyone read that one?" Mr. Heeger asks.

Doodling in ink
Don't believe everything you read — or don't read.
"It Ain't Necessarily So: How Media Make and Unmake the Scientific Picture of Reality" (Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95), is a new book written by David Murray, director of the Statistical Assessment Service in Washington and adjunct professor at Georgetown University; Joel Schwartz, senior adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute; and S. Robert Lichter, president of the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington.
We'll allow the book's very first paragraph to speak for the remainder of the pages: "When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that AIDS deaths increased in 1994, that story was covered by the New York Times — as it should have been. But two months later, the CDC announced that the number of AIDS diagnoses fell in 1995. An interesting and important piece of news, you might think, yet the Times effectively ignored it."
Apart from AIDS, there are plenty more examples of the Fourth Estate's picture of reality, from airplane crashes and global warming to — always our favorites — presidential election polls and voting results.

Plunger
We're not sure if they're fighting words or not, but when discussing budget-surplus projections, Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad has taken to calling President George W. Bush — who admittedly never struck it big in the oil business — "what they call in the oil fields of North Dakota a 'plunger.'
"A plunger is somebody that continues to drill dry holes even when all his money is gone. They just keep doing it for the love of the chase, I guess."

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