- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Nethercutt vs. Murray

Rep. George Nethercutt, the Washington Republican who in 1994 toppled U.S. House Speaker Tom Foley, said yesterday he will challenge Democratic incumbent Patty Murray for the Senate in 2004.

Mr. Nethercutt, 58, a favorite of the White House, will give up his congressional seat to make the run, the Associated Press reports. He said he met last week with President Bush, who encouraged him to get into the race.

Mrs. Murray is seeking a third term.

When Mr. Nethercutt took on Mr. Foley in 1994, no sitting House speaker had been ousted since 1862.

Pressure on Gore

“Former Vice President Al Gore is coming under pressure from political supporters and friends to jump into the 2004 presidential campaign even though he ruled himself out in December,” the Hill newspaper reports.

“Gore’s spokesperson denied that there was any change of plans, but a former Democratic National Committee official close to Mr. Gore told the Hill he believes the former vice president may enter the Democratic primary this fall,” reporter Alexander Bolton writes.

“A second Gore confidant, Steve Armistead, a local Tennessee government official, said: ‘I think he’d like to grit his teeth and jump back in, but I can’t speak for him. I don’t think he liked the medicine he got from the Supreme Court.’

The former DNC official told the Hill that “his prediction of another Gore campaign is based on more than a hunch … He believes, as other Gore confidants do, that the political climate has changed significantly since December, making Bush more vulnerable to defeat in his bid for a second term.”

However, Gore spokesman Kiki McLean said her boss “is not a candidate for president, he’s made his position known and he has no intention of changing his mind.”

Misleading viewers

The latest complaint regarding the habit of television news networks describing liberal political lobbyists as typical retirees complaining about the cost of prescription drugs comes from one of the lobbyists herself.

Barbara Kaufman, president of the Minnesota Senior Federation, was featured on ABC’s “World News Tonight” on Friday, complaining about the high cost of prescription drugs. But there was no mention of her affiliation with organizations advocating a federal prescription drug entitlement, according to a Media Research Center transcript of the program.

Miss Kaufman calls ABC’s decision “misleading.”

“I would have preferred it if [ABC News] had … identified me as the president of the Minnesota Senior Federation because I think that lends more credibility,” Miss Kaufman told reporter Marc Morano. His report is posted at www.CNSNews.com.

CNSNews.com first reported on the news networks’ habit of portraying politically savvy elderly activists as “typical” victims of high drug costs on July 14.

Another elderly political activist who had already been portrayed several times by CBS News as a typical victim of the high cost of prescription drugs was once again featured on the “CBS Evening News” on Friday, with no mention of her extensive political and lobbying background.

Viola Quirion, an activist with the Alliance for Retired Persons, was identified as a “Maine senior citizen” during Friday’s broadcast. It was at least the fourth time Miss Quirion has appeared on CBS News since 1999 without reference to her background.

Boos and hisses

Claude Allen, deputy secretary of Health and Human Services, was hissed and booed by AIDS activists yesterday at the 2003 National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta.

Many of the angry activists were from taxpayer-funded organizations worried about the Bush administration’s proposed changes to prevention programs.

“The depth of anger seen today makes it clear that people across the country are frustrated and also ready to further mobilize,” said Shana Krochmal, communications director of the Stop AIDS Project. “Narrow political agendas are still being allowed to trump science by the best and the brightest in prevention.”

The Stop AIDS Project is a San Francisco group whose federally funded programs — including sexually explicit workshops with names like “Booty Call” — have been criticized by members of Congress and investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mr. Allen was once an aide to former Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, and has been nominated for a federal judgeship by President Bush. He gave the closing address at the three-day conference in Atlanta.

“Allowing Claude Allen — a man with such hostile viewpoints on the basic tenets of HIV prevention — to close the conference speaks volumes about the Bush administration’s true agenda on these issues,” said Terje Anderson, executive director of the National Association of People with AIDS.

DeLay and Israel

Calling himself “an Israeli of the heart,” House Majority Leader Tom DeLay told Israel’s Knesset yesterday that the United States and Israel are blood brothers in the fight against terrorism.

“In short, it is the position of the people of the United States, as expressed by their representatives in Congress, that Israel’s fight is our fight. And so shall it be until the last terrorist on earth is in a cell or a cemetery,” Mr. DeLay told the Israeli legislature.

The Texas Republican, who has become one of the most prominent defenders of Israel among American politicians, is traveling through the Middle East this week.

Mr. DeLay put the blame for continued unrest in the region squarely on Palestinian militants and on Yasser Arafat in particular, who he said must be further isolated.

He said the bond between the United States and Israel “is deeper than the various interests we share. It goes to the very nature of man.”

Hastert’s book

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert has signed a contract to write a book about his life from his days as a high school wrestling coach in Illinois to his rise in Congress.

“The theme will be lessons in leadership, what he learned and his style of leadership,” said Marji Ross, president of Regnery Publishing Inc., a Washington-based conservative publishing house.

The Regnery executive said that negotiations with Mr. Hastert, Illinois Republican, began in January, but were not concluded until the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct cleared the deal earlier this month. She declined to discuss terms of the contract, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Hastert is expected to cover such subjects as September 11, the impeachment of President Clinton, his membership on first lady Hillary Clinton’s health care task force, House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s resignation and his own rise to power.

‘Illegal Poem’

The top emergency official in Arkansas resigned yesterday for sending his 66 employees an e-mail poem making fun of immigrants and welfare recipients, the Associated Press reports.

Gov. Mike Huckabee’s office said that it accepted W.R. “Bud” Harper’s apology and resignation.

“The forwarded e-mail was neither humorous nor acceptable,” Mr. Huckabee said.

“In spite of all best intentions and dedication, we sometimes make mistakes,” Mr. Harper, 72, said in a letter announcing his resignation as director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. “Some of these mistakes are so simple that it seems unreal that they can carry us into a situation I must now address.”

Mr. Harper said earlier that he received the verse, titled “Illegal Poem,” from someone else and sent it along because he found it humorous.

Among the poem’s lines: “Welfare checks, they make you wealthy, Medicaid, it keeps you healthy.” Another line accuses immigrants of bilking the system: “By and by, I got plenty of money, Thanks to you American dummy.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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