- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 1, 2002

Missouri women
A new poll signals that Missouri's female voters could well determine who wins the Senate contest this fall, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
The poll, by Zogby International, shows Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan with a slim statewide edge among likely voters 49.6 percent to 43.9 percent over her Republican rival, former Rep. Jim Talent.
The reason: Mrs. Carnahan holds a lead of almost 11 percentage points among likely female voters. She and Mr. Talent are neck-and-neck among the men surveyed.
"Women are the key," pollster John Zogby said. "This is a close race, no matter which way you look at it."

Sense of malaise
"Next week will mark a key time in the Senate's ongoing war over judicial confirmations," Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"Thursday, May 9 is the one-year anniversary of President Bush's announcement of his first nominees for the federal bench; on that day, the president nominated 11 judges for places on the circuit courts of appeal. Since then, just three have been confirmed and two of those were Democrats whom Bush nominated in a conciliatory gesture. Of the eight who have not yet been confirmed, none has had a hearing before the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee," Mr. York said.
"Although their plans for May 9 are not yet set, Republicans on Capitol Hill will likely hold a series of media events to protest committee chairman Patrick Leahy's inaction on dozens of Bush nominees. But behind the angry words, there is a sense of malaise among some in the GOP who had hoped that Leahy's decision to kill the appeals-court nomination of Charles Pickering would spark a public reaction against committee Democrats.
"'The only thing that will make them act is if they feel that it is hurting them politically,' says one key Republican aide. 'The Washington Post editorials [criticizing Leahy's slow-motion confirmation strategy] have been helpful, but it's not something that has reached the public. We're pretty much at their mercy.'"

Student aid battle
Forty-six of the Senate's 50 Democrats, led by Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, sent a letter to President Bush yesterday urging him not to eliminate a federal student loan consolidation program.
"We understand from news accounts that [the Office of Management and Budget] proposes to eliminate the federal fixed-rate student loan consolidation program and use the savings for other purposes," the letter reads. "Elimination of this program will deny students the ability to consolidate their loans at low, fixed interest rates imposing tens of thousands of additional dollars in additional loan costs to students and their families." The letter urges withdrawal of "this unwise plan."
The administration is reportedly considering replacing the fixed-rate loan consolidation program with a variable-rate program.
Mr. Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, also sent a letter Monday to the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., asking him to testify on the issue before his committee on May 9.
But Dave Schnittger, spokesman for the Republican-led House Education and the Workforce Committee, told The Washington Times that the current consolidation loan program concentrates taxpayer-paid benefits on borrowers who are out of school. He noted that the Pell Grant program, which serves needy students trying to enter and complete higher education, is facing a $1.3 billion shortfall.

Disguised agenda
"When a liberal Democrat puts out a press release on a report, the networks not only jump, they disguise the political agenda behind it by pumping up its credibility by referring to a 'government report,' a 'congressional report,' a 'Senate investigation,' 'government investigators,' and 'congressional investigators,'" Brent Baker writes at the Media Research Center Web site (www.mediaresearch.org).
"On Monday night ABC and CBS ran full stories, and NBC a brief item read by the anchor, on a report put out by Democratic Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate permanent investigations subcommittee, about how oil companies, surprise, surprise, wish to maximize the price of their products. But none of the stories bothered to mention the name of the committee or how the report was released by its majority side," Mr. Baker said.
"On ABC's 'World News Tonight,' Peter Jennings cited how 'Government investigators reported today that the oil industry caused some of the recent increases.'
"Over on the 'CBS Evening News,' Dan Rather flashed back to the 1970s with a retro introduction about 'Big Oil.' He intoned: 'Developments in the Middle East can have an impact on the price of gasoline. A U.S. congressional report out today says that there was something else behind some of the recent increases for consumers at the pump.'
"Anchor Tom Brokaw handled the April 29 'NBC Nightly News' item: 'America's major oil companies are accused tonight of taking deliberate steps to keep supplies tight and raise prices. A congressional report released today also blamed recent industry mergers for the high cost of gasoline, especially in the Midwest. Not surprisingly, an industry spokesman disputes that, saying market shortages are the real culprit.'"

Closing the mansion
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura shut down the governor's mansion yesterday, laid off most of the staff and declared it unavailable for all but limited official functions.
The former pro wrestler blamed a budget dispute for the move, saying state lawmakers left him no choice but to close the 20-room English Tudor residence when they cut his spending and reduced his security budget.
"I don't know how they can possibly force me to keep it open without the funding," Mr. Ventura told the Associated Press. The governor, by choice, does not live at the mansion.
Lawmakers said they may seek an injunction to force the mansion to reopen.
"Hopefully the governor will realize that the mansion is the people's house and he shouldn't just close it because he's mad at some legislators," said Rep. Matt Entenza, whose district includes the mansion.

'Erosion of trust'
Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan, the Republican nominee for governor, says Gov. George Ryan should consider resigning because of an "extraordinary erosion of trust" caused by the bribery scandal among his underlings.
Mr. Ryan is the most prominent Republican yet to suggest the governor should think about quitting, the Associated Press reports.
His statement issued yesterday was in response to a poll suggesting that two-thirds of Illinoisans believe the Republican governor should quit because of the scandal. The governor, not related to Jim Ryan, already has decided not to seek a second term.
"I said from the first day of my candidacy for governor that we must restore trust in government," Jim Ryan said in the statement issued yesterday.

Jeb's tears
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush broke down in tears during a drug summit yesterday as he thanked attendees for their prayers and support following his 24-year-old daughter's arrest Jan. 29 on charges of trying to buy the anti-anxiety medicine Xanax with a fake prescription.
"I want to thank you on behalf of my wife for your prayers and for your quiet counseling in the last few months about our daughter Noelle," Mr. Bush said before pausing and choking back a sob. "I knew I was going to do this," Mr. Bush whispered. "Anyway, thank you."
Mr. Bush was addressing drug treatment and abuse prevention professionals as well as law enforcement officers at the summit in Tallahassee.
"Bush men always cry," the governor explained. "I apologize. It's a little genetic problem I got from my dad," former President George Bush.

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