- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2001

Cheney worries

Vice President Richard B. Cheney, a featured speaker at the annual National Republican Congressional Committee gala last night, alarmed some party loyalists in attendance.

They reported that Mr. Cheney, who has been plagued with heart problems, didn't "look well" and appeared "wan."

Some remarked to The Washington Times that he coughed loudly once, seemed to have trouble getting his breath for a moment afterward and looked "progressively worse" as his otherwise well-received speech moved toward conclusion.

"Who do they have lined up to be the next vice president?" was a question heard at tables of party donors in the jammed Washington Hilton ballroom, according to several Republicans at the event.

Curiously, there was nary a word, by Mr. Cheney or any other headliner, on the hottest topic in the capital of the Free World the campaign finance regulations being pushed by Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and his Democratic allies.

Many attending the gala also confessed to bemusement on what strategy, if any, President Bush has in mind on the issue. Mr. McCain's bill appears to be gaining headway in the Senate.

On the campaign trail last year, Mr. Bush opposed Mr. McCain's plan to restrict and complicate campaign donations. But the president has sent signals that he will sign virtually any campaign finance bill Congress sends.

"Every new administration makes at least one major mistake early on," a former congressional aide said. "What guys like me worry about is whether the mistake is irreparable I mean, hurt the party in a way that can't be mended. Campaign finance reform may be it this time."

More Holy Joe

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman announced yesterday that he has begun a probe of President Bush's recent rejections of federal curbs on arsenic, carbon dioxide and other pollutants.
Appearing with House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, other Democratic lawmakers and green activists, Mr. Lieberman compared Mr. Bush's actions to a "search-and-destroy mission, which is targeted at a generation of environmental laws."
Last year's losing Democratic vice presidential candidate said the laws he accused Mr. Bush of trying to gut are backed by "the broadest range of the American people."
He said at a Capitol Hill news conference that his staff is reviewing Mr. Bush's positions and that he expects hearings on them.
Mr. Lieberman said Democrats may try to use a little-known 1996 law called the Congressional Review Act to "undo some of the undoing that the Bush administration is doing."
Senate Republicans recently used that law to overturn workplace safety regulations that President Clinton imposed in the dying days of his term.
Mr. Bush also would have to approve any repeal of the orders he himself signed, meaning Mr. Lieberman's environmental crusade has no real chance of producing a result.

Hillary's dismal ratings

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's popularity rating has dropped, with just one in three voters having a favorable opinion of her, according to a statewide poll released yesterday.
The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute found Mrs. Clinton's favorability rating at 34 percent. Another 34 percent of voters said they have an unfavorable opinion.
A December poll by Quinnipiac, conducted about a month after Mrs. Clinton's easy election victory over Rep. Rick Lazio, had her rated favorably by 46 percent of voters and unfavorably by 36 percent.
The Clintons have faced criticism over Bill Clinton's last-minute presidential pardons and over furniture and other gifts they took with them from the White House.
"Senator Clinton has been getting the headlines, very few of them good," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Hamden, Conn.-based institute.
Quinnipiac's poll of 1,353 voters was conducted March 20-26 and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Sixty percent of voters said they approved of the job Charles E. Schumer, Mrs. Clinton's fellow Democratic senator from New York, was doing. Just 38 percent approved of the job Mrs. Clinton was doing.

Network avoidance

"What is it about the networks that leads them to avoid reporting how their own polls find support for Bush's tax-cut plan?" Brent Baker asks in a Media Research Center CyberAlert.
"About four weeks ago, as detailed in several CyberAlerts, 'The CBS Evening News' refused to inform its viewers of how a CBS News survey after Bush's address to Congress determined 67 percent backed his tax-cut plan," Mr. Baker said.
"Now the same avoidance of positive numbers for Bush's tax cut has hit ABC. An ABC News/ Washington Post poll discovered 58 percent think Bush's tax-cut plan is 'about right' or 'too small' while just 36 percent consider it 'too big,' but instead of reporting that, on Monday night ABC's Terry Moran stressed how the public is 'becoming a little skeptical about some aspects of his leadership' as he has 'an anemic rating' for handling the economy and 'by a margin of two to one, 61 to 31 percent, Americans polled in our polls say that the president favors large business corporations over the interests of ordinary working people.' "

Ventura's new plan

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, stymied in his attempt to downsize the Legislature, backed a bill to limit its regular sessions to only every other year.
The idea, detailed Monday with the two top House Republicans and other legislators, has been on Mr. Ventura's to-do list since his proposal to create a single-house Legislature flopped last year. Until now, however, he hadn't produced specific legislation, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Ventura's main gripe is that lawmakers introduce too many bills and propose too much new spending because they are in the Capitol too long.
"I see no reason why we can't complete the people's business with one legislative session every other year," Mr. Ventura said. "I also believe that a single session will focus both the executive and legislative branches more on issues that are important to the people and less on election-year politics."
Around the country, six state legislatures hold regular sessions only every two years: Arkansas, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon and Texas. Kentucky's lawmakers could pass bills only every two years until voters amended the state Constitution in November.

Turner keeps talking

Television-industry billionaire Ted Turner, who can always be counted on for an incendiary quote, says President Bush "was bought and paid for by the petroleum industry" and that "the Republican Party has become the party of polluters."
Mr. Turner made the comments Tuesday to an environmental seminar of nine students at McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tenn., which he attended in 1956.
The vice chairman of AOL Time Warner called the November election results "a disaster" and said that Mr. Bush's plan to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge "is ridiculous," the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.
"We should be moving away from fossil fuels. He is trying to steer the country by looking in the rearview mirror," Mr. Turner added.
Mr. Turner apologized recently after referring to some CNN employees as "Jesus freaks." The employees had attended Ash Wednesday services and had ashes on their foreheads.

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