- The Washington Times - Friday, October 11, 2002

Smith at the ready

Some are more ready than others, perhaps. In a conversation with Sen. Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, on Capitol Hill yesterday, CNN producer Dana Bash mentioned Republican Montana state Sen. Mike Taylor's decision to drop his bid to defeat Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat.

Mr. Taylor said a "loathsome" Democratic TV spot that implied he was a homosexual had trashed his campaign.

After overhearing their conversation, Sen. Robert C. Smith, a New Hampshire Republican who lost his primary race, smiled and told Mr. Frist, "I'll move to Montana. You need me there? I'll move there."

Electoral jam

A Broward County elections official has been accused by a Florida TV station of anti-Semitism, using government computers to send inflammatory e-mails, and lying on his job application.

Miami's WPLG-TV, Channel 10, reports that Jimmie Davis, the community-relations coordinator for the Broward County elections supervisor, has cast doubt on the Holocaust and called Jews "oppressors" who "must turn that money over to blacks became they accumulated their wealth through the slave trade."

While Mr. Davis was a reporter for the Westside Gazette in Broward County, he also wrote: "it is difficult for me to find sympathy for what the Jews are calling a holocaust."

In addition, Channel 10 reports, Mr. Davis was placed on probation for domestic violence against his sister and attacking several police officers during the 1998 attempt to arrest him. In his application for employment, Mr. Davis said he had never "been charged with a crime and/or been placed on a court-ordered probation."

The TV station also reports that Mr. Davis, who is black, used the county's computer to send e-mails that spell America "Ameri*kkk*a," call the Declaration of Independence a hypocritical piece of deceit, and say that white people will never understand blacks.

The e-mails prompted Broward County Commissioner Ben Graber to demand yesterday that county elections supervisor Miriam Oliphant fire Mr. Davis immediately.

Miss Oliphant told the TV station that she did not know of the past writings.

The Iraq factor

A potential war with Iraq "has emerged as the national issue people discuss most often with family and friends," a new Pew Research Center poll states. Sixty percent of the respondents said they follow the news "very closely," compared with 48 percent last month.

President Bush's call for military action against Iraq is "clearly resonating with the public," the poll found: 80 percent of the respondents believe Iraq already has, or is close to having, nuclear weapons, and 66 percent believe Saddam was involved in the September 11 attacks.

Eighty-five percent say he must be "removed rather than disarmed and allowed to remain in power." Among those who oppose war, a full 70 percent believe Saddam has nuclear weapons and 65 percent think he should be removed rather than just disarmed. A third of those polled, however, believe Mr. Bush is moving "too quickly" against Iraq.

Clinton, Part I

Yes, that $1 million worth of previously undisclosed knickknacks sent to President Clinton will go to the new Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., according to Republican investigators. But the folks in that fair city have other issues.

"Arkansans are still smarting that Mr. Clinton didn't choose a team of local Arkansas architects to design his library," the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette noted yesterday.

"A better looking and more appropriate building might have resulted at the hands of artists who know about and love Little Rock and Arkansas. The structure being visited on our state in the former president's memory is more to be tolerated than admired."

The former president "has turned his back on Arkansas, abandoning the state of his birth for the glamour and whizbang of New York, centering his presidential after-life in Harlem, and visiting the land of his roots only furtively and infrequently."

It "speaks eloquently of Mr. Clinton's attitude toward things." The paper has a proposal, though.

A new plan "to benefit Arkansas and honor our former president" would stop construction on the library immediately. "It would release the east side acreage to return to the polluted industrial site that it once was. The construction work done so far could be redesigned by Mr. Clinton's architects and capped off as a small shed to memorialize the gifts, improvements and benefits that accrued to Arkansas while Mr. Clinton was president."

The big squeeze

Has a cheerful sponge been co-opted by a special-interest group? The Wall Street Journal claimed Wednesday that "Sponge Bob Square Pants," America's most popular cartoon character, has become a homosexual icon. It's sparked a public debate.

"Remember three years ago, when the Tinky-Winky hubbub erupted? It started with a tongue-in-cheek claim that the purple, purse-toting Teletubby was gay, which led to denunciations of Tubbies by televangelist Jerry Falwell," the Detroit Free Press noted yesterday.

"Last year, a conservative group was concerned that a Minute Maid commercial featuring Popeye and his sidekick Bluto riding a bicycle built for two spread gay themes to kids," the paper continued. "What sometimes gets lost in such media uproars is a simple notion: Cartoon characters appeal to all sorts of fans for all sorts of reasons. In the case of Sponge Bob, his appeal seems to transcend categories like age, race and gender."

"The gay world has for years claimed dozens of cartoon heroes as their own," the Boston Herald chimed in. "And many of us, after logging millions of hours before the tube, had no idea."

Sponge Bob's creators at Nickelodeon say there are no homosexual underpinnings on the show, and plan a Sponge Bob movie in 2004.

Clinton, Part II

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's $8 million memoir is due out next June. The New York Democrat has a trio of writers and researchers helping her the first time she has had a chance to "reflect" in a decade, according to Carolyn Reidy of publisher Simon & Schuster.

"We have not yet seen her drafts of the later years of the presidency," Miss Reidy told Reuters. "But she wants to give her version of those events. As she says, she is a very private person and this is the first time I think that she herself will have spoken out very directly on what those events were like for her."

Mrs. Clinton will include the Monica Lewinsky matter and other pivotal events of the Clinton White House.

"I don't have any concerns that she is going to leave out the things that we believe everybody wants to know. She has clearly thought about it and knows what she wants to say," Miss Reidy said.

Rudy, Mike, et al.

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has given thumbs up to members of HBO's "The Sopranos" marching in the Columbus Day Parade on Monday.

"I'm a big 'Sopranos' fan," Mr. Giuliani told reporters yesterday. "The show is a terrific show, and I would urge some Italian-Americans to be less sensitive. You could spend your whole life wanting to be insulted. Why? Why do you want to be insulted?"

On Wednesday, there was much ado in the Big Apple after Mayor Michael Bloomberg invited a pair of "Sopranos" regulars to take a stroll in the name of Italian-American pride. Parade organizers were incredulous, claiming that the show promotes negative and even criminal stereotypes about Italian-Americans.

"I think we all get beyond it when we just relax more about it," Mr. Giuliani said. "It's just a show."

His successor agreed.

"I didn't invite them as members of 'The Sopranos,'" Mr. Bloomberg said. "These are two nice people who have gone out of their way to help the city. I apologize if anybody's offended. If you are offended, don't wave back when they wave to you."

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