- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2001

Clinton oriented
What with 1,000 journalists, 500 international business leaders and a bright red carpet for incoming celebs, Hong Kongs mammoth business forum, which opens today, is a natural habitat for former President Bill Clinton, who will deliver the closing remarks when the event ends Thursday.
The Peoples Daily reports that the meeting, bolstered by 3,000 police, is "dedicated to the outlook of China," including its new identity as "the emerging Western Region" and "one of the most coveted and largest markets in the world."
The White House assured one and all that Mr. Clinton is going purely as Joe Citizen, though.
"He did talk to [National Security Adviser] Condoleezza Rice prior to his departure, as typical of a traveling president," spokesman Ari Fleischer assured one reporter who was under the impression that Mr. Clinton claimed to have been encouraged to attend by the White House, and possibly ease the release of an American EP-3E surveillance plane on Hainan island.
"The position of the White House is hes going as a private citizen, and the White House has raised no objections," Mr. Fleischer said.
"Does that mean when he said you encouraged him, he was incorrect?" the reporter persisted.
"Ive answered your question," Mr. Fleischer replied.

Screen gems

President Bush does not tarry in Tinseltown. Yet the White House did not stir when the Federal Trade Commission issued another study about the effects of violent entertainment on children, followed by a round of supportive legislation from Democratic Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
"Hollywood loved President Clinton and reached into its pockets for the campaign of Vice President Al Gore. In return, it received admonishing threats of regulations reining in the propensity towards offensive material," noted the Los Angeles Times yesterday.
"Hollywood turned its back on Bush. Now, it probably couldnt be happier with him. The Bush White Houses restrained tone is raising eyebrows across the political spectrum. Social conservatives are grumbling," the paper continued.
"It would be very odd for a president that owes his election to millions of social conservatives to then not use the power vested in his office to shame and otherwise make uncomfortable those that are exploiting our kids," said Gary Bauer of American Values.
"My judgment is that this administration has a healthier regard for the First Amendment than the Clinton administration," observed Jack Valenti of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Hizzoner Cosmo

Kenny Kramer, the man who inspired hipster/doofus character Cosmo Kramer on the "Seinfeld" TV series, is running for mayor of New York City on the Libertarian Party ticket. Now all the "real" Kramer needs is 7,500 signatures to get him on the November ballot.
"Im in it to win," he said. "With the success of Jesse Ventura becoming governor [of Minnesota], why cant I become mayor?"
Mr. Kramer lived across the hall from "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David some 12 years ago and was working at the time as a reggae band manager, a stand-up comedian and a disco-jewelry designer. These days he offers a "Kramer Reality" tour to tourists interested in seeing the old Seinfeld haunts.
"I am the only one in this race whos not a lifelong politician," Mr. Kramer said. "And I am not a lawyer, which is reason enough to vote for me."

A moment of truth

Maybe a touch o Kramer will add verve to the New York mayoral campaign, said to be so dull that even current Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani switched over to catch sports on ESPN after trying to watch four Democratic candidates debate on another channel.
"I saw about four minutes of it and then had this kind of feeling I was watching a train going backwards," Mr. Giuliani told reporters.

Gored by Gore

Wherefore art thou, Albert? The love affair between Al Gore and California has cooled.
State Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres was mighty irked that Mr. Gore has disappeared off the political radar screen, and said he was "insulted for the members of the California Democratic Party, considering what we did for him."
Dems delivered a generous 12-percentage-point, 1.3-million-vote margin of victory last November in the nations most-populous state, giving Mr. Gore 54 electoral votes.
"Not to flog a dead horse, but if Gore had done so well in his own state, Tennessee, hed be president today," the San Francisco Chronicle said yesterday.
"The comments by the usually cheery Torres, an enthusiastic Gore backer, spell trouble for the former vice president and, Democrats say, suggest that the usually politically sensitive Gore has written off the idea of a presidential run in 2004," the Chronicle continued.
"I havent heard anybody talking about Al Gore for president" in 2004, said Mr. Torres. "I don't think hes taking it seriously."

Target issues

Several hundred members of the anti-gun movement Million Mom March turned the Capitol grounds of North Carolina into a "grim carnival" over the weekend, but the "political momentum lay with a smaller group across the street who hoisted signs reading, 'Guns Save Lives," the Raleigh News-Observer said yesterday.
The small group of counterdemonstrators had come under the auspices of Grass Roots North Carolina, a pro-firearms group whose "formidable organizing helped persuade state lawmakers last month to vote down a gun-safety bill the marchers wanted," the paper continued.
Meanwhile, pro-gun protester Steve Weatherford carried a sign labeled "Misinformed, Misguided, Mistaken."
"For the most part, these people have the best intentions," he said. But "the Second Amendment of the Constitution is at stake. Theyre taking that thinking a little too far."

Schumer rumor

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, accused Democrats yesterday of delaying President Bushs judicial nominations in hopes that 98-year-old Sen. Strom Thurmonds health would fail, giving them control of the Senate and the power to block nominations.
"I hate to say that, but yes. Theyre hoping theyre going to get control if something happens to Sen. Thurmond," said Mr. Hatch, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Mr. Bush plans to send the Senate the names of up to 100 judicial appointments this week, but Democrats are angry with Mr. Hatchs refusal to allow senators to veto confirmations from their home states.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, another member of the panel, shot back: "Thats a cheap shot, and all Sen. Hatch has to do is allow the same rule as was the case when President Clinton was president and the process will move forward."

Sammon run

Online mistress of politics Lucianne Goldberg has a kind word for The Washington Times own Bill Sammon and his new book on the Florida election debacle and a wry observation about the competition.
"If you cant wait for Amazon.com to get you your copy of Bill Sammons new blockbuster, 'At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried To Steal The Election, check out The Washington Times excerpt this morning," Miss Goldberg wrote at her Web site (www.lucianne.com)
"Jeff Toobin is writing a book on the same subject presuming How The Bushes Stole the Election. Its due out in about two years. When youre hot, youre hot," she added.

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