- The Washington Times - Monday, July 8, 2002

Daschle's lament
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, says President Bush has achieved his stated goal of "changing the tone in Washington" by making it even more partisan.
Interviewed yesterday on CBS' "Face the Nation," Mr. Daschle, a possible presidential contender in 2004, was asked by host Bob Schieffer about a letter put out "by a conservative fund-raising group" that said Mr. Daschle is "more dangerous" than John Walker Lindh, the American who fought with the Taliban.
Asked if he believes the White House had a role in that letter, Mr. Daschle said he doesn't know. "But I think it stems from a lot of the attitude that we've seen and heard from the administration. They have said they wanted to change the tone in Washington, and I think it has gotten worse. So they've changed it in that regard. It's gone from bad to worse."
The Senate leader added, "I think this letter and letters like it, and there are many others, are evidence of the tone today and how destructive that tone really is."
Mr. Daschle reiterated claims that the Bush administration is always "calculating the political consequences" when it takes action.
Asked if he is saying Mr. Bush is just as political as his predecessor, President Clinton, Mr. Daschle replied, "I would say, in some ways, he's more so."

A misleading story
"The terrifying headline, 'Bush Slashing Aid for E.P.A. Cleanup at 33 Toxic Sites,' which fronted the New York Times on Monday, July 1, was enough to make you zip your hazmat suit," Jack Shafer writes in the Internet magazine Slate (slate.msn.com).
"Quoting a report by the inspector general of the Environmental Protection Agency, Times scribe Katharine Q. Seelye found that some of the nation's 'most seriously polluted' Superfund cleanup sites in 18 states would go wanting for dollars this year because of Bush administration stinginess. Seelye writes: 'Among the sites that for now would receive less money in some cases, none are a manufacturing plant in Edison, N.J., where the herbicide Agent Orange was produced, several chemical plants in Florida and two old mines in Montana.'
"As the American media's news-agenda dictator, the Times inspired dozens of pieces by newspapers, wire services, and broadcasters across the country. Many papers, such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Bergen County Record, localized their stories by mentioning Superfund site cutbacks in their backyards.
"Although the Times story spewed Superfund hysteria, it never went as far as the Record, which reported (erroneously) that the administration planned 'to reduce spending for the nation's Superfund program.' That's not the case. The 'slashing' cuts of the Times headline, delineated in the seventh paragraph of the story, were merely the difference between what EPA regional offices had requested from the EPA's Washington headquarters ($450 million) and what headquarters had deigned to allocate ($228 million) to clean up 33 specific sites in FY 2002. It's as if you asked Santa for a BMW and accused him of dealing you a cutback when he only gave you a Honda.
"In fact, spending on Superfund has remained steady in recent years, with $1.4 billion budgeted in FY 2000, $1.27 billion in 2001, $1.27 billion in FY 2002 (not counting homeland security add-ins), and a projected $1.3 billion for FY 2003, if the Bushies get their way. (Among other things, the Superfund budget covers legal enforcement, engineering, office overhead, and direct cleanup of sites.) Seelye notes the current budget in her piece but doesn't put it in the context of previous years' spending or the Bush administration's 2003 intentions. Based on these numbers, Seelye could have just as easily written a story titled, 'Bush Superfund Budget Grows Slightly.'"

Davis' revenge
"In four months, Californians will vote on whether to re-elect Gov. Gray Davis," Wall Street Journal editorialist John Fund notes at www.opinionjournal.com.
"Although he trails Republican Bill Simon by as much as 9 points in private polls taken by both parties, the smart money still expects Mr. Davis to use his enormous $50 million campaign war chest to devastate his opponent come this fall. But the campaign's financial assets could be a political liability. If voters believe the governor neglected state problems to focus on raising that money, they may not care what the Davis attack ads say about Mr. Simon," Mr. Fund writes.
"The chances of that happening increased on Tuesday with the heavy-handed firing of a Democratic legislator who had been chairing hearings on corruption in state government. Sacramento political reporters are calling it the Tuesday night massacre, a reference to Richard Nixon's Saturday-night firing of Archibald Cox as the Watergate special prosecutor in 1973.
"Assemblyman Dean Florez says he was stripped of his chairmanship of the Joint Audit Committee, the Legislature's chief investigative arm, as 'payback' for his aggressive hearings into the disastrous no-bid Oracle contract. The state may lose up to $40 million on the Oracle deal, in which it bought software that every staff-level expert said it didn't need. A few days after the state signed the contract, a lobbyist for Oracle met Mr. Davis' top technology aide in a Sacramento bar and handed over a $25,000 campaign contribution. Four Davis administration officials have resigned or been replaced over their role in the scandal.
"Mr. Florez held 110 hours of hearings into the Oracle deal and concluded that Davis administration officials were 'clearly' influenced by 'political and monetary' considerations. 'Every agency head involved in this fiasco abdicated their duties to the detriment of taxpayers and to the benefit of corporate interests,' the assemblyman summed up as his hearings concluded on June 17. Mr. Florez, a former investment banker with an MBA from Harvard, promised to hold new oversight hearings this summer on massive mismanagement and possible corruption in state programs for veterans."

Davis' revenge II
"Monty Holden, head of the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs, has been cashiered from his position on a supposedly nonpartisan California state police commission. This is Governor Gray Davis' crass payback for Holden's endorsement of Bill Simon," George Neumayr writes at www.americanprowler.org.
"Davis equates state government with his personal interests, so he sees nothing wrong with dumping a qualified appointee who happens to prefer the Republican in the race. Garry South, Gray Davis' campaign manager, had tried to stop COPS's endorsement of Simon by hurling foul-mouthed threats at Holden's colleagues. 'Has Holden lost his mind?' South wrote to COPS earlier this year after he learned that Holden was thinking of endorsing Simon. 'If this reflects his sentiments, he needs to lose his job.'
"After this memo appeared in the press, South denied that he was threatening Holden's position on the state commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. Now it's clear he was. South thought that he could frighten Holden and COPS away from a Simon endorsement. But his thuggish tactics backfired on him, making the Davis crowd look more unsavory than ever," Mr. Neumayr said.
"This perception is hardly reserved to Republicans. Many Democrats don't trust Davis either, which explains why they openly admit that his administration is troubling even as he languishes in the polls."

A helping hand
President Bush could raise $2 million or more for U.S. Rep. Bob Riley's campaign for governor of Alabama when Mr. Bush visits Birmingham on July 15, the Associated Press reports.
"Bush will headline an invitation-only luncheon at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Riley's 'Salute to George W. Bush' could draw more than 2,000 donors who will pay a minimum of $1,000 each," the wire service said.
The Republican hopes to unseat Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman, who has more than $4 million in his campaign war chest.

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