- The Washington Times - Friday, January 25, 2002

The real reason

"What's behind the growing pressure on Vice President Cheney to release the names of outsiders that his energy task force consulted as it crafted the national energy policy?" Byron York asks at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

"A few reasons have been widely discussed. On the part of some observers and commentators, it's a general opposition to excessive government secrecy. For Democratic representatives like Henry Waxman and John Dingell, it's a desire to stir up a scandal to hurt the Bush administration. But there's another, less-discussed reason, that's now out in the open: the Democratic strategy to use the Cheney information to undermine the White House in upcoming negotiations over energy legislation," Mr. York said.

"The strategy was clear in a letter sent yesterday by four Senate Democrats, including Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Government Affairs Committee, and Carl Levin, chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, to the General Accounting Office in support of the GAO's attempts to force Cheney to release the names of the task force's outside consultants. …

"The letter underscores the concerns of Senate Republicans who believe, in the words of one Senate GOP leadership aide, that 'the Democrats are going to demagogue the energy bill to discredit us.'

"The letter also confirms what Cheney's top aides have long maintained: that Democrats, contrary to what they have said in the past, want far more than the names of participants in the energy task force. Rather, Lieberman, Levin, and their colleagues appear to want a fly-on-the-wall look inside the entire deliberative process of the vice president's group. Later, they will claim that the White House's energy product was bought and paid for by Big Energy including the scandal-ridden Enron."

What a coincidence

The Washington Post yesterday devoted an entire page of text, pictures and graphics to what it called "Enron: A Primer." The right-hand column of the page was labeled "Political Interactions" and included only Republicans, all but one of which are members of the Bush administration.

This is somewhat surprising, considering Enron's close ties to the Clinton administration Chairman Kenneth L. Lay once met in the Oval Office with President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore as well as its numerous donations to Democratic members of Congress (a gray box at the bottom of the page did note that "Several prominent politicians from both parties are returning Enron contribution money to the company or contributing it to charity.")

This one-sided view of the Enron affair comes on top of a revelation Sunday by the newspaper's ombudsman that someone at The Post apparently had falsified a caption last week to try to more closely link President Bush to Enron. The photo showed Mr. Lay at a baseball stadium in Houston talking to a man who had his back turned to the camera. The caption said the man was President Bush and the picture was taken last spring. In fact, the man was Mr. Bush's father, the former president, and the photo was shot two years ago.

Meanwhile, in what may or may not be a coincidence, the two liberal newspapers that have seemingly labored the hardest to turn the Enron case into a Bush political scandal The Post and the New York Times featured op-ed pieces yesterday from the two House Democrats working to do the same. California Rep. Henry A. Waxman was given the top spot on the Post op-ed page, while Michigan Rep. John D. Dingell showed up at the bottom of the Times' op-ed page.

Daschle's low numbers

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is getting mediocre approval scores from voters, according to a survey for the National Republican Congressional Committee by pollster John McLaughlin.

Overall, the South Dakota Democrat, one of President Bush's sharpest critics in Congress, is liked by 36 percent of Americans, compared with 27 percent who do not.

Mr. Daschle's rating among senior citizens, a key Democratic constituency, is similarly lukewarm. They give him a 38 percent to 31 percent approval/disapproval score.

He isn't doing that great with married women, either: 30 percent like him and 24 percent do not.

The lynx scandal

"Fur is flying in Washington, and it's about time," Wall Street Journal editorialist Kimberley A. Strassel writes.

"In December, a scandal broke over a high-profile survey to count threatened Canada lynx. Seven employees from Fish & Wildlife, the Forest Service and a state agency submitted hair samples from captive lynx and tried to pass them off as wild. When caught, the employees claimed they were testing the DNA-identification process. Another explanation is that they were attempting to establish lynx in places where they aren't, potentially blocking national forests to human use," the writer said.

"Washington is in an uproar. Rep. Scott McInnis, Colorado Republican, has scheduled hearings, while several agencies are investigating how far the bio-fraud extended.

"Let's hope they dig deep. If they do, they might finally understand what Western and rural landowners have known for ages: These departments can no longer be trusted to make fair or competent decisions about our nation's resources.

"The lynx scandal underscores everything that's wrong with Fish & Wildlife and the Forest Service. It shows how the agencies succumbed to a Clinton-era culture that puts ideology ahead of science. It demonstrates the undue influence environmental groups hold over the departments. It also shows how vaguely written laws like the Endangered Species Act can be used to further political agendas, even in the complete absence of hard science."

Welcome silence

"Diplomatic dogs are not barking all over the world," New York Times columnist William Safire writes. "This welcome silence is a form of grudging assent, and is the major achievement of George W. Bush's first year as president. …

"A year ago, 'unilateral' described the Bushites and 'multilateral' the old Clintonites. But we have shown by our willingness to go it alone that we need not go it alone. Angered and injured, we turned resolute, and lo anticipated opposition melted away," Mr. Safire writes, referring to a variety of international issues, such as abrogating the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

"In Arthur Conan Doyle's detective story, the 'curious incident' was the failure of a dog named Silver Blaze to bark. That clue told Sherlock Holmes that the intruder in the night was not a stranger.

"In the same way, the United States bold but not arrogant, newly armed with the will to assert its interests and values is no stranger and is unafraid in this world we never made. It's elementary, Watson: Our adversaries, growing familar with our new way, have learned to hold back the barking."

Mezvinsky confined

A former congressman charged with bilking banks and clients out of more than $10 million will remain confined to his home, a judge ruled yesterday in rejecting a motion to have him jailed.

However, U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell said Edward M. Mezvinsky will now have to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and can leave home only to visit his doctor, lawyer or church.

The judge also barred Mr. Mezvinsky from depositing any checks other than his Social Security check, the Associated Press reports.

The 64-year-old former Iowa congressman faces 66 counts of fraud and related charges for reputedly fleecing banks, clients and relatives including his elderly mother-in-law out of $10.4 million.

Prosecutors had wanted Mr. Mezvinsky jailed, saying he has continued his attempts to swindle people, including trying to deposit a fake check for $480,000.

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