- The Washington Times - Friday, July 6, 2001

Torricelli rating falls
Sen. Robert G. Torricelli's approval rating has dropped to its lowest level in his home state of New Jersey amid a federal investigation into his campaign fund-raising, according to a poll released yesterday.
Thirty-seven percent of New Jersey voters disapprove of the Democrat compared with 35 percent who favor him, according to the Quinnipiac University poll.
It was the lowest rating in the poll for Mr. Torricelli since he was elected to the Senate in 1996.
Polls by Quinnipiac University indicate Mr. Torricelli's approval rating has dropped slowly but steadily this year, from 46 percent in February to 41 percent in May.

Ads irk Georgia GOP
Two series of state-funded TV commercials that feature Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes or legislation he supported are really campaign ads in disguise and should be withdrawn, his political rivals said yesterday.
One ad warns felons they could be jailed if they try to buy guns in Georgia. Amid images of a police car and prison bars, the camera zooms in on a newspaper headline: "House passes Barnes' gun crimes bill." The text of the ad says it was paid for by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Another series of ads features Mr. Barnes, a Democrat who is seeking re-election next year. He and his wife, Marie, are surrounded by smiling, laughing youngsters, promoting the state's pre-kindergarten program. The program is funded by the state lottery, which spent $100,000 to air the ads.
Bill Byrne, one of two Republicans who have announced they plan to run for governor, said the ads should be withdrawn.
"This is nothing more than a smoke screen for the governor's re-election campaign," Mr. Byrne said. "That's taxpayers' money."
Richard Leonard, campaign manager for State Schools Superintendent Linda Schrenko, said the commercials seem to be "blatant political ads."
"We do public service announcements on a fairly regular basis," Joselyn Butler, the governor's press secretary, told the Associated Press.

Insanity plea
Former U.S. Rep. Edward M. Mezvinsky, charged with swindling banks and clients out of $10.4 million, will plead not guilty by reason of insanity to fraud charges, according to defense papers filed in federal court.
Attorney Mark E. Cedrone notified U.S. District Judge Stuart Dalzell that Mr. Mezvinsky, 64, would raise the insanity defense based on a long history of mental illness, "most likely bipolar disorder," the Philadelphia Daily News reported yesterday.
"Essentially, Mr. Mezvinsky takes the position that even though he may have engaged in much (although not all) of the conduct attributed to him in the indictment," he did not intend to defraud anyone, the lawyer wrote in papers filed Tuesday.
Mr. Mezvinsky, who represented Iowa from 1973 to 1977, is married to former U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, Pennsylvania Democrat, who served from 1992 to 1994.
Mr. Cedrone said the illness affected his client's judgment, blinding him from the risks associated with a financial scheme into which Mr. Mezvinsky purportedly entered with con artists from Africa. He blamed Mr. Mezvinsky's mental problems on the use of the anti-malaria drug Lariam, which Mr. Mezvinsky apparently took on business trips to the continent.

Armey's agenda
House Majority Leader Dick Armey sent out a long memo to fellow Republican representatives yesterday, offering a four-point plan to shrink government over the next decade.
"Restraining government was step one," Mr. Armey said, citing welfare reform as an example. "Step two is roll-back."
The Texas Republican listed the following "major goals for conservatives to pursue":
Preserve the 2001 tax cut and make it permanent.
Keep cutting taxes incrementally, "in ways that move us toward our ultimate goal of fundamental tax reform, be it the flat tax or a similar reform. A couple of good first candidates: Expand IRAs and eliminate the capital gains tax."
Enact free-market health reforms, such as medical savings accounts.
"Preserve and strengthen Social Security the right way," which Mr. Armey defined as creating personal accounts rather than raising payroll taxes or age eligibility.

Wing fling
"When is a Democratic Congressman labeled 'right wing'? When a network reporter is doing a story on a Congressman linked to a victim of probable crime," writes Brent Baker of the Media Research Center.
"Most TV stories I've seen have studiously avoided naming the party affiliation of Gary Condit, the Democratic Congressman from California linked to Chandra Levy, the intern missing in D.C. since early May — though I recall that in a June 21 CNN piece Candy Crowley identified his party. Tuesday night, July 3, for instance, 'NBC Nightly News' ran back-to-back pieces on the Levy case — starting with the Fox News Channel exclusive about how Condit supposedly asked a United Airlines flight attendant, with whom he had an affair, to offer misleading statements in an affidavit — but neither story mentioned his party," Mr. Baker said.
"The morning before, however, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed how NBC tagged him as a 'right-wing Democrat.' In a piece on the July 2 'Today' about his district, George Lewis asserted: 'Modesto, California, in the middle of the state's central valley. A major agricultural area with lots of farms and cattle. A politically conservative place where the average home goes for around $190,000. They call it "Condit Country" around here and six-term Congressman Gary Condit, a 53-year-old right-wing Democrat, has won re-election by huge margins.'
"That reminds me of how some have predicted that if Democratic Senator Zell Miller becomes a Republican the national media will then suddenly find it newsworthy to highlight what they have so far skipped over: his segregationist history."

Fast fund-raiser
President Bush has raised $44 million for Republicans at presidential dinners this year — without even lifting a fork, Associated Press reporter Sharon Theimer writes.
The guest of honor hasn't stayed for dinner at either of the major GOP fund-raisers he attended, displaying a businesslike in-and-out approach that contrasts with Bill Clinton's glad-handing style.
At both events, Mr. Bush posed for pictures with big donors before dinner, was seated with first lady Laura Bush at a head table, gave an 18-minute speech as the audience started on salads, and then left before dinner was served.
"We've got to go home and feed Barney, the dog," Mr. Bush said by way of explanation before he and the first lady left a congressional fund-raiser last week that raised $20 million.
U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, one of the party's top fund-raisers as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Mr. Bush is proceeding with caution after the fund-raising controversies of the Clinton years.
"He didn't want to be there for the dinner when we announced the take on the evening," Mr. Davis said. Mr. Bush wants to make it clear "he's not the fund-raiser in chief."

Back to reality
When California Gov. Gray Davis hired two former aides to Al Gore to prop up his image, Republicans cried foul, saying taxpayers should not pay the men's $30,000-a-month salary for political services. Well, the party is over for Mark Fabiani, who was Gore deputy campaign manager, and Chris Lehane, who was spokesman for the presidential campaign.
The Democratic governor, in a press release, announced that Mr. Fabiani has been given his walking papers.
Mr. Lehane still has a job, but his pay has been reduced to $9,900 a month, Roll Call reports.

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