- The Washington Times - Monday, May 27, 2002

Gone fishing
"On Jan. 24, when chairman Joseph Lieberman opened the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's first hearing on the collapse of Enron, he said the inquiry would focus sharply on two areas," Byron York notes in a column at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"The first was the 'internal malfeasance of Enron and its auditors, the role of the board of directors, conflicts of interest, offshore tax havens and insider trading.' That probe, Lieberman said, would be conducted by investigations subcommittee chairman Sen. Carl Levin. The second part of the investigation would examine 'the external controls and protectors, the federal agencies and laws' and would 'ask why in this case they couldn't better protect the thousands of employees and investors who have suffered from Enron's untimely and unnatural demise.' That investigation would be headed by Lieberman himself, and he pledged that it would be a 'rigorous, nonpartisan investigation producing concrete proposals for reform.'
"Now, four months later, Lieberman seems to be pursuing another course, one that has led to a deep partisan split in the committee and has opened Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice-presidential candidate who is considering a run for president in 2004, to accusations that his investigation is aimed more at inflicting political damage on the White House than examining the roles played by federal agencies in the Enron collapse," Mr. York said.
"By issuing a subpoena to the White House for documents concerning its contacts with Enron, Lieberman has come up with a few revelations about the role Enron executives played in staffing the Bush administration, as well as the role the company played in the creation of the vice president's energy policy. There might be more news to come. But it's not what Lieberman set out to investigate, and it's not likely to produce concrete proposals for reform.
"A statement Lieberman released on Thursday seems to recognize the problem. 'Even the inadequate information provided yesterday shows a larger number of contacts between the Executive Office of the President and Enron than previously known,' Lieberman said. 'I don't know whether learning more about those contacts will ultimately tell us that the government could or should have done something different with respect to Enron; as I emphasized yesterday, we are committed to being investigatory, not accusatory.' That comes as close as Lieberman can come to saying that he is on a fishing expedition."

McCain ducks
Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, is not shy about disagreeing publicly with his party over legislative issues such as campaign-finance reform, gun regulation, fuel-efficiency standards or reductions in the capital gains tax.
But he is reticent when it comes to sensitive personnel issues, such as who should be the next Senate Republican leader.
Interviewed Saturday on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields," Mr. McCain was asked if he believed incumbent leader Trent Lott of Mississippi or Assistant Republican Leader Don Nickles of Oklahoma would be the better choice for the Senate's top Republican position. Mr. Nickles may or may not be seeking the post.
"I'd have to make that assessment if there was that race. I kind of think that there's not going to be," Mr. McCain said, adding: "But it would depend, I think, on certain circumstances. But I hadn't thought of it in that context. In other words, I'm ducking."
Pressed, Mr. McCain said neither party leader had yet asked him for his vote. Mr. Nickles has said he is more interested in helping Republicans regain control of the Senate than in becoming Republican leader.

'Roosevelt Republican'
Sen. John McCain, in his interview on CNN, described himself as a "Roosevelt Republican" and said his political hero, Theodore Roosevelt, would not be totally comfortable in the Republican Party of today.
The Arizona Republican gave two reasons why he believed so. Roosevelt "was the first one to take on Wall Street and the robber barons, and we outlawed corporate contributions in 1907. So he was really the first campaign-finance reformer," Mr. McCain said.
"Second, of all, the environment. Theodore Roosevelt was a committed environmentalist."
Mr. McCain, however, said Mr. Roosevelt and Republicans of today would agree on the "greatness of America" and on the "necessity of using our military strength to protect democracy and freedom."
Mr. McCain said he has no plans to follow Mr. Roosevelt's lead and make a run for the presidency as a third-party candidate in 2004. He also reiterated he is not interested in becoming a Democrat.
He noted that Mr. Roosevelt ran as the Bull Moose party candidate in 1912 because he was disappointed with the administration of Republican William Howard Taft. "But I think the president of the United States is leading this country very well," Mr. McCain said on "Novak, Hunt & Shields."

Durbin's criticism
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, has added his voice to the growing chorus of lawmakers who have criticized the FBI for intelligence failures before September 11.
"The very agencies we're counting on to protect America didn't do their job before September 11. The FBI Phoenix memo, the Moussaoui arrest and investigation, all of those have now come to light," Mr. Durbin, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said on CNN's "Saturday Edition."
"And we understand that, in Phoenix, the FBI office might as well have taken that memo, put it in a bottle and tossed it in the sea, because, frankly, no one paid any attention to it when they should have," said Mr. Durbin. The memo in question, written in July, warned that Middle Eastern extremists with potential links to Osama bin Laden were attending U.S. flight schools.
Mr. Durbin said he has asked FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, whom he respects, "whether there are any more shoes to drop."
"He says no. I hope he's right," the senator told show host Jonathan Karl.

President Daschle
At least twice on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday, host Tim Russert asked Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle how "President Daschle" would handle such-and-such issue.
"You're hung up on this President Daschle" business, said the South Dakota Democrat, who several times pointed out how "happy" and busy he was holding the Senate's top position.
Mr. Russert then asked Mr. Daschle about a poll taken by a television station in his home state that found that 29 percent of South Dakota voters wanted the senator to run for president in 2004, and 51 percent did not.
Mr. Daschle portrayed those results as good news, saying they showed most South Dakotans were happy with his performance as Senate majority leader.
In the NBC interview, Mr. Daschle had some complimentary things to say about the man in the White House. President Bush, he said, is "very political" in that "he makes many decisions for political reasons, but he makes them very well."

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