- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Double weight

The American Conservative Union announced yesterday that it not only opposes the Medicare prescription-drug legislation agreed to by Senate and House conferees Monday, but will give double weight to the upcoming votes on the bill in both houses of Congress.

The ACU says its annual Rating of Congress, started 32 years ago, is widely regarded as the “gold standard” of conservative measurements of the House and Senate.

“The proposed Medicare drug benefit marks the biggest expansion of the Great Society since Lyndon Johnson was president and is a bad bill for the health of senior Americans,” the organization said in a prepared statement yesterday.

“Therefore, ACU will double the weight of the vote on the conference report. ACU will score a vote against passage of the conference report as the conservative vote.”

Toasting Arnold

California Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson, a Democrat, drew laughs at a legislative luncheon held Monday in the Capitol Rotunda for newly inaugurated Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“You know, Governor, this is the first time that I’ve been asked to give a toast to a Republican governor. And I have forgotten what I’m supposed to say. So I hope in a short period of time, I will have Total Recall,” Mr. Wesson said.

“[Republican Senate leader Jim] Brulte and [Republican Assembly leader Dave] Cox, they seem to be looking at me with the eyes of a Predator. I think they would like to make me the Running Man. But I want them to know I am the Last Action Hero. Governor, as you know this place, you will know the true meaning of True Lies.

“Sometimes, you’re going to think you are back on the set of Kindergarten Cop. You’re gonna have to come in and minimize Collateral Damage. We may need to see Conan the Barbarian. I do want you to be careful because [Democratic leader] Senator John Burton is the Commando. But you and I will get along just fine, because we’re Twins.”

Associated Press reporter Beth Fouhy, in her pool report, said the last line got the biggest laugh, “because Mr. Wesson is in fact a rather diminutive black man.”

Mr. Wesson then offered a “native Austrian” toast — Zum Wohl, to your health.

Janklow sped up

Rep. Bill Janklow, South Dakota Republican, told investigators he was accelerating to pass another vehicle at an intersection before a deadly collision with a motorcyclist, according to a new document filed in his second-degree manslaughter case.

The lawmaker told two state troopers and a sheriff’s deputy that he “gunned” the Cadillac to get around another vehicle, according to the document as reported by the Associated Press.

“I was slowing up for that stop sign and I just raced around it. I gunned around him,” the document quoted Mr. Janklow as saying.

The motorcycle slammed into the car Mr. Janklow was driving after the lawmaker ran a stop sign, authorities charge. Motorcyclist Randy Scott of Hardwick, Minn., was killed.

Mr. Janklow is charged with going 71 mph in a 55-mph zone, not stopping at a stop sign, reckless driving and second-degree manslaughter, a felony. That count carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. His trial starts Dec. 1.

Taste of cynicism

“Our scoop last week revealing Senate Democratic strategy memos on how to defeat President Bush’s judicial nominees has created quite a stir,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“Two of the memos came from the office of Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who was not amused that we gave our readers a taste of the political cynicism behind his opposition. [Monday] he got the Capitol Hill police to raid the Judiciary Committee in search of evidence of who leaked the documents. Sheriff Durbin’s office told us late [Monday] afternoon that the posse had entered the Committee’s computer room and ‘removed backup tapes from the server.’

“We admit it. We have sources who provided those documents to us, a practice not unknown even, dare we guess, to Mr. Durbin. His outrage at this disclosure contrasts with the notable lack of concern that his fellow Democrats showed some years back over the leak of the Anita Hill charges against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“But since the subject’s come up, let us take the opportunity to mention one more document we didn’t have time to quote from in Friday’s editorial. This comes from staff talking points written for Senator Ted Kennedy to deliver to his fellow Senate Democrats urging them to oppose Miguel Estrada, the highly qualified former nominee for the D.C. Circuit who happens to be Hispanic. ‘We can’t repeat the mistake we made with Clarence Thomas,’ it said.

“In other words: Please don’t let a ‘Latino’ nominee (as a Durbin memo put it) who happens to be conservative get on an appellate court. His next step might be the Supreme Court. Liberal Democrats have been hiding their filibuster motives beyond high-sounding principle. What really has Mr. Durbin upset is that the public finally got a glimpse of how he really thinks.”

Investing payroll taxes

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, introduced legislation yesterday to overhaul the Social Security system by allowing younger workers to invest 4 percent of their payroll taxes in stock and bond mutual funds.

Mr. Graham said he discussed his bill with President Bush last week at a fund-raising event in South Carolina. Mr. Bush first proposed the idea in his 2000 campaign and appointed a bipartisan blue-ribbon commission in 2001 that came up with several options to implement his plan.

Democrats vowed to make the partial privatization plan a GOP-killer in the 2002 elections, and Mr. Graham was one of the candidates they targeted with a series of TV ads that said if he was elected, he would “turn your Social Security over to risky stocks like Enron.”

But Mr. Graham staunchly defended the idea and won election to the Senate by 55 percent of the vote.

Dean kin found

The Pentagon said yesterday it has uncovered remains from the site in Laos where Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean’s younger brother was believed to have been killed nearly 30 years ago.

The remains have not been positively identified, but they were found along with some of Charles Dean’s personal items, Howard Dean told the Associated Press.

A joint U.S.-Laotian team discovered the remains earlier this month in Bolikhamxai province in central Laos, said Larry Greer, spokesman for the Pentagon office in charge of prisoner-of-war and missing-in-action issues.

Charles Dean was a 24-year-old graduate of the University of North Carolina traveling the world when he and a companion, Neil Sharman of Australia, were arrested in Laos by the communist Pathet Lao.

The two were detained Sept. 4, 1974, during a trip down the Mekong River, and held in a small, remote prison camp for a few months before being killed. They apparently were suspected of being spies, although the U.S. and Australian governments said they were merely tourists and strongly protested their detention.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected].

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