- The Washington Times - Friday, June 14, 2002

Orchid-free zone

Rep. Bob Barr is no "hothouse flower," as characterized in The Washington Post in an account of the Georgia Republican's decision to sue former President Bill Clinton, James Carville and Larry Flynt for $30 million in personal damages.

Mr. Barr is more a solid oak tree, judging by this statement released from his office yesterday:

"For eight years, the Clinton Administration attack dogs, James Carville, and their Hollywood friends, like pornographer Larry Flynt, employed slash and burn, guerrilla-warfare tactics in an attempt to intimidate and bully those focused on upholding the rule of law and ending government corruption," Mr. Barr said.

"Time and again, truth, integrity and the rule of law took a back seat to intimidating political enemies and abusing government power. While they may have succeeded in intimidating some people, they didn't and won't intimidate me. James Carville can preach his lies about people on television and Larry Flynt can print whatever he wants in the pages of his smut magazine, but at the end of the day, they are going to be held accountable. Their lies, smears and intimidation will end, and I look forward to this case moving forward."

Miller, McKinney kaput

Elsewhere in Georgia, Democratic ties are under duress. Sen. Zell Miller has contributed $1,000 to the campaign fund of Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney's opponent former state Judge Denise Majette, whom Mr. Miller appointed during his tenure as governor.

Though he refused to criticize Mrs. McKinney's record in Congress, Mr. Miller knocks her assertion that President Bush had advance notice of the September 11 terrorist attacks and let them happen to fatten his oil-business friends' bank accounts.

"That was an irresponsible statement. No matter who made it. It was a loony statement," Mr. Miller told talk-radio station WJN.

Polls indicate Mrs. Majette is ahead of the five-term congresswoman, now caught in the cross hairs of the Southeastern Legal Foundation. The watchdog group hopes to see federal charges filed against Mrs. McKinney and her father, state Rep. Billy McKinney, for using a bullhorn outside a voting precinct in the 2000 elections, and interfering with poll workers.

Hey, big spenders

Gubernatorial hopefuls have spent an unprecedented $100 million in campaign advertising so far this year, a University of Wisconsin study shows with almost two-thirds of that spent in Texas, California, Illinois and Pennsylvania alone.

"These are the amounts one would expect to see in a general election," said research director Ken Goldstein, who thinks it's the tip of a very expensive iceberg.

Two Pennsylvania Democrats former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell and Auditor General Robert P. Casey Jr. led the pack by spending about $8 million each.

In California, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan outspent eventual Republican primary winner Bill Simon by $8.2 million to $4.4 million. But Democratic Gov. Gray Davis shelled out almost as much as both Republican candidates, almost $12 million, for ads critical of Mr. Riordan.

The Democratic Party, the study noted, "was the biggest spender in a GOP primary."

Lords of the manner

Better behave on the streets on Houston. The City Council has passed a "civility ordinance" to keep those sidewalks polite.

The Council voted 12-3 on Wednesday to ban "Dumpster diving," aggressive panhandling and sleeping on downtown streets during the day that means no rummaging in garbage bins or snoring on the sidewalk, and no panhandling within 8 feet of automated teller machines, pay phones, parking meters, gas pumps or people who object.

Homeless advocates call the law unfair profiling, while supporters say it targets only offensive or dangerous behavior, not the homeless. The police are ready, though. They say they will not arrest violators, but instead will send them to social service agencies.

Taking a witness stand

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. heard from the Concerned Women for America by letter yesterday:

"The absence of any witness appearing on behalf of the Executive Branch is surely the most conspicuous feature of today's hearing on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee," President Sandy Rios wrote to the Delaware Democrat, who is chairman of the committee.

"I have been reliably informed that the Administration had sought to have two of its officials appear to offer testimony at this hearing. Both of those witnesses were rejected by the staff of the Foreign Relations Committee, allegedly on the grounds that they were not sufficiently senior.

"It would, in any case, seem to be the responsibility of the Administration rather than Committee employees to determine the qualifications of witnesses appearing on behalf of the Administration. In this particular instance, moreover, one of the rejected witnesses was the ambassador who leads the U.S. delegation at United Nations conferences."

"CEDAW has been pending for more than two decades. If ratified, it would have a legal force equivalent to the Constitution itself. To conduct a hearing on a subject of such magnitude without even hearing the views of the Administration strikes me as gravely inappropriate. The Senate and the American people deserve more serious deliberation before being asked to decide a matter as momentous as this."

Press not bitter

This week, the New York Times described liberal point man Bill Press as "embittered" after leaving CNN as he begins a new tenure at MSNBC with conservative Patrick Buchanan next month.

"Of course I am not embittered," Mr. Press told us yesterday. "How can I be embittered over someone else's stupid mistakes? I am enthusiastic and excited about jumping back in the ring with Pat Buchanan."

Ready to rumble

Republican protesters in Definiak Springs, Fla., had a message for Janet Reno, on a campaign tour of the Panhandle town in her quest for governor.

"Jan Stood By Her Man Bill," their handmade signs read.

Meanwhile, a Miami Herald poll released yesterday finds Gov. Jeb Bush with a healthy lead over Miss Reno, topping her in a hypothetical November general-election matchup by a margin of 57 percent to 35 percent.

"I'm a relatively young 49 years old, but in political years like dog years I'm about 800 years old," Mr. Bush remarked yesterday. "I've been involved in enough races supporting my father, my brother or myself, or people I admire, to know that no lead is secure and you have to run really hard. And I intend to do that."

But Miss Reno thinks he's not getting a big bang for his campaign advertising bucks.

"He doesn't seem like he's gotten a lot for the $2 million he's spent," she said.

Simon says

First lady Laura Bush made a timely visit to liberal San Francisco on Wednesday to show support for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon.

"Just like Bill Simon, eight years ago my husband announced he was running for governor. And plenty of critics came around to greet him on the campaign trail," Mrs. Bush said. "They called him all kinds of things. But after Election Day, they called him governor. In November, Californians will be calling Bill Simon governor."

Mr. Simon, meanwhile, had some choice words about his Democratic rival's habit of setting his priorities based on campaign contributions.

"I refer to Gov. [Gray] Davis as our first coin-operated governor," Mr. Simon observed.

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