- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2002

Second thoughts

"Bill Clinton defender Susan Estrich conceded during a Saturday appearance on FNC [Fox News Channel] that she had 'defended the indefensible' in explaining away as irrelevant to his job performance Bill Clinton's personal behavior," the Media Research Center reports at www.mediaresearch.org.

"Recalling her many media appearances post-Lewinsky, Estrich expressed regret: 'I mean I've done it. I've said 'Oh, sex with an intern; oh, big deal, you know. I don't care, you don't care, what could be better' I sat there for years and I did that, in the hopes that it would finally go away and, you know, Bill Clinton would become Jimmy Carter and we could all live happily ever after.'"

Line in the sand

"The Republican Main Street Partnership, a group of moderate GOP officeholders, is throwing its support behind Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, Maryland Republican, who is being challenged in the party primary by Baltimore attorney Dave Fischer," United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.

"The race is becoming increasingly expensive as Fischer, who says the incumbent is no longer a good fit for the district, is backed by the National Rifle Association, the American Conservative Union and the pro-free market Club for Growth, who have threatened to put more than $100,000 in the race. The Main Street group says they are 'drawing a line in the sand' and will back Gilchrest to the hilt. 'We will be protecting one of our own with an independent expenditure,' Main Street Executive Director Sarah Chamberlain Resnick says.

"A Partnership-backed television ad campaign goes up Sept. 3. The Partnership also says they will send mailers on behalf of Gilchrest into the district, where 40 percent of the residents have not been represented by him in prior years. Resnick says they are 'prepared to spend whatever it takes to help Wayne Gilchrest' and may have the support of the GOP congressional leadership."

Giving up on McCain

Timothy Noah, who writes the Chatterbox column for the Internet magazine Slate (www.slate.msn.com), notes that he, along with Joshua Green of the Washington Monthly and Jonathan Chait of the New Republic, have argued since last spring "that the best candidate the Democrats have to run for president in 2004 is John McCain, whose membership in the Republican Party is now entirely vestigial."

However, the columnist has now given up on Mr. McCain as a presidential candidate.

"McCain, regrettably, has responded with a Shermanesque pledge not to accept the Democratic nomination," Mr. Noah said. "This has led many people to conclude that he's going to run as an Independent. But in his forthcoming memoir, 'Worth the Fighting For' (a sequel to the best-selling 'Faith of My Fathers'), McCain comes very close to foreclosing that option as well:

"'I am sixty-five years old as I finish this book and facing the question that comes to everyone blessed with long life. Has my time passed? Is it time to withdraw from public duty, retire to my home on Oak Creek, and pursue my private interests? My third term in the Senate will end in 2004, and I must soon decide whether I want another. I have had a bout with cancer, and the immortality that was the aspiration of my youth, like all the treasures of youth, has slipped away.'

"'I did not get to be president of the United States. And I doubt I shall have reason or opportunity to try again [italics Chatterboxs].'

"McCain goes on to say that 'I'd hate to leave' public life, but that's probably his way of keeping open the door for a final Senate run, not another presidential one. It's possible McCain wants supporters to beg him to run for president, but that stance is the practical equivalent of sincerely deciding not to run because nobody's going to draft a candidate who says he doesn't expect to win. Chatterbox predicts there will be no McCain race for president in 2004 on any ticket."

Mr. Tolerance

Bill O'Reilly approves of same-sex "marriages," favors allowing homosexuals to adopt children, and condemns those who disagree as "fanatics" and "holy rollers."

"The only heat I take on the gay stuff is from very, very religious-driven people," the host of Fox News Channel's "O'Reilly Factor" says in an interview with the Advocate, a magazine for homosexuals. "Ninety percent of Americans don't care what [homosexuals] do Ten percent are fanatics. They think you're going to hell, and they want you to go to hell."

Mr. O'Reilly told the Advocate: "There are millions of Americans who are never going to accept [homosexuals], primarily on religious grounds. You're never going to convince the holy rollers that you're not an abomination, because they're going to quote the Old Testament."

Audio excerpts of the Advocate interview were posted by political columnist John Aravosis on About.com.

"I was never opposed to gay adoption," Mr. O'Reilly told the magazine. "Is it better for a kid to be in a foster system that's chaotic, or to be in a nice, stable home with two people who love him? It took me 10 seconds to figure that out."

Of same-sex "marriage," Mr. O'Reilly said: "You want to get married? Knock yourself out. Go to Vegas; have a good time. If you can get [marriage laws] changed, I'm not going to jump up and down and say I think it's wrong, because I don't."

In fact Mr. O'Reilly, who is married, tells the Advocate, "I wish I were gay. I'd get a lot more free meals, OK? Maybe somebody would take me out to the movies once in a while."

Florida love fest

A debate among the Democratic candidates for Florida governor turned into a love fest Tuesday as former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and her rivals painted a target on their larger foe, the incumbent Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.

Not a harsh word was exchanged as the candidates united in criticism of President Bush's younger brother, Reuters news agency reports.

In their only meeting before the Sept. 10 Democratic primary, Miss Reno, Tampa Bay lawyer Bill McBride and state Sen. Daryl Jones repeatedly castigated Jeb Bush, saying he had failed to revive Florida's public school system and presided over a child welfare agency that lost track of hundreds of children.

"Hurricane Jeb has wreaked havoc and destruction throughout Florida," Mr. Jones said in his opening remarks, setting the tone for the event. "I think the governor has run this state into the ground over the last four years," he added.

Held at Palm Beach Community College, the event was billed as a debate but had no exchanges among the candidates, who answered questions from journalists.

Clergy win out

Rep. Jim Ramstad, Minnesota Republican, this week praised news that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a case that threatened America's clergy.

Mr. Ramstad crafted a bill passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Bush in May that was designed to protect clergy from this particular court case.

"I'm very pleased that my legislation ended this nightmare for clergy of every faith and denomination," Mr. Ramstad said.

The court had taken up the constitutionality of a long-standing parsonage exemption that prevents clergy from being taxed on the portion of their church income that is used to provide housing.

"My legislation stopped this activist court from hijacking a routine tax court case and using it to force a $2.3 billion tax increase on America's clergy," Mr. Ramstad said.

A Baptist minister from California challenged the Internal Revenue Service rule limiting the exemption to the fair market rental value of the clergy's home. The case made it to the 9th Circuit Court, but instead of simply addressing whether the IRS has the authority to limit the exemption, the court which spans nine Western states questioned the overall constitutionality of the tax benefit for clergy.

Mr. Ramstad's bill in essence settled the court case by codifying the IRS rule that limits the clergy housing-allowance exemption to the fair market rental value of the clergy's home.

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