- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 12, 2004

Conspiracy theory

White House spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday responded to a report in USA Today detailing how in the late 1990s, as Mr. Bush prepared to run for president, top-ranking Texas National Guard officers and Bush advisers discussed ways to limit the release of potentially embarrassing details in his military records.

The article included a photocopy of a document that was blacked out after Mr. Bush answered the question: “Have you ever been arrested, indicted or convicted for any violation of civil or military law?”

The USA Today story said that “the nature of what was blacked out in Bush’s records is important because certain legal problems, such as drug or alcohol violations, could have been a basis for denying an applicant entry into the Guard or pilot training.”

The future president’s rap sheet, as read to reporters by Mr. McClellan from the unedited document: a misdemeanor charge for stealing a Christmas wreath as a college prank at Yale in 1966, two speeding tickets in the summer of 1964, and two minor traffic accidents.

“I’m just amazed by the kinds of conspiracy theories that some have chosen to pursue,” Mr. McClellan said. “The American people deserve better.”

Presumed guilty

“The media obsession with advancing the liberal Democratic campaign quest, to make President Bush’s National Guard record an issue, continued on Wednesday morning,” the Media Research Center reports.

“Just as occurred on Tuesday night, instead of castigating those leveling unsubstantiated ‘AWOL’ charges, and demanding that the accusers provide proof, the network morning shows presumed Bush is guilty until proven innocent,” the media watchdog’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

“ABC’s ‘Good Morning America,’ for instance, devoted half of its first half hour — a news story and three (!) interview segments all totaling a bit more than 10 minutes of air time — to the subject as co-host Charges Gibson adopted Terry McAuliffe’s spin. With ‘Was He AWOL?’ plastered on screen over video of present-day Bush next to a black-and-white still shot of Bush in uniform during his National Guard days, Gibson asserted: ‘President Bush still in the hot seat after releasing his military records. Was he AWOL as his critics charge?’ And showing no self-awareness of how it is the media which are making it a story, Gibson claimed: ‘The questions about the president’s National Guard service just won’t stop.’ ”

Clinton and Clark

“As a political talent scout, Bill Clinton looks like a bit of a dud right now — and that’s just one reason wife Hillary’s presidential prospects suddenly look dimmer,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“No one did more to create the Wesley Clark 2004 boomlet than Bill Clinton, who praised the retired general to the skies as one of the Democratic Party’s two top ‘stars’ — Hillary was the other one — and encouraged a host of allies to back Clark,” Miss Orin said.

“Funny how fast Clinton distanced himself as Clark imploded.

“The ex-president vanished like the Cheshire cat by the time Clark quit the 2004 race [Wednesday]. But he left a nasty taste with plenty of Democrats — and word is that includes front-runner John Kerry’s camp.

” ‘It was so arrogant for Clinton to think he could dictate the Democratic nominee. To talk about Clark as the ‘star’ was a real slap in the face to Kerry. They tried to trump Kerry’s Vietnam War medals with a general,’ said a prominent party activist.

” ‘It showed that Bill and Hillary don’t want to win in 2004 — they want to wait for her to run in 2008. But Democrats want to win now; they don’t want to wait around for her chance to run. There’s starting be a real resentment.”

Woolsey apologizes

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, California Democrat, has apologized for seeking a lenient sentence for a convicted rapist who is the son of one of her staffers.

Mrs. Woolsey “quickly apologized after a Marin County newspaper reported she intervened on behalf of Stewart Pearson, who pleaded guilty last fall to raping a 17-year-old Terra Linda girl and covering her face with a rag soaked in household chemicals in an attempt to incapacitate her,” the Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press Democrat reported Wednesday.

“Pearson, 20, had volunteered on Woolsey’s campaign and is the son of an employee in the congresswoman’s San Rafael office,” the newspaper said.

“Stewart Pearson is a young man from a supportive family,” Mrs. Woolsey wrote in a Dec. 2 letter on congressional stationery to Marin County Superior Court Judge Terrence Boren one month before Pearson was sentenced. “I believe he has a promising life ahead of him, and I urge you to consider these factors when deciding upon a suitable sentence.”

Pearson pleaded guilty to rape in September, according to the Press Democrat, which reported that the judge sentenced Pearson in January to eight years in state prison, the maximum allowed under law.

Impeachment pros

Two lawyers who served President Clinton during the scandal that led to his impeachment have been hired as part of the investigation into reported corruption by Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland.

The Select Committee of Inquiry voted unanimously Wednesday to hire New York lawyer Steven F. Reich, who was senior associate counsel to Mr. Clinton. Mr. Reich will serve as legal counsel for the 10-member investigative panel, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Rowland’s office also turned to a one-time Clinton lawyer. Seth P. Waxman, Mr. Clinton’s solicitor general during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and two other members of his firm will assist the governor’s legal counsel with research.

Biden’s wayward aide

A man who served as a campaign aide to Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to stealing money from the Delaware Democrat’s campaign treasury, apparently to promote what he hoped would be a romantic relationship with at least one of three men.

Roger D. Blevins III, 33, pleaded guilty in Wilmington, Del., to one count of interstate transportation of stolen property and one count of aiding and abetting the making of a false statement to the government, the Associated Press reports.

Blevins faces a maximum 15 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. He will be sentenced June 18.

Blevins, former assistant treasurer for Citizens for Biden, pleaded guilty to transferring $80,000 from Mr. Biden’s campaign treasury to a credit union in Florida in April, the largest of 23 unauthorized transfers cited by prosecutors.

According to prosecutors, Blevins improperly transferred or withdrew almost $400,000 from Mr. Biden’s account in 2002 and 2003.

Some money went to the bank accounts of three men in Florida whom Blevins met on the Internet, prosecutors said.

“He apparently was forming or hopeful of a romantic relationship with one or more of the individuals,” prosecutor April Byrd said.

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

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