- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Apology demanded

Presidential candidate Ralph Nader, in a letter yesterday to the Congressional Black Caucus, demanded an apology from Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat and caucus chairman, for luring him to a meeting under the premise that issues would be discussed.

“Instead, exclamations at the meeting descended into vituperative, (e.g., Congresswoman [Carolyn Cheeks] Kilpatrick’s tawdry, anatomical comment yelled loud enough so the press could hear it outside) and ending with the obscene, racist epithet repeated twice by Yale Law School alumnus Congressman Melvin Watt of North Carolina,” Mr. Nader wrote in his letter.

“Just as African-Americans demanded an apology from [Nixon-Ford era] Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz and Senator Trent Lott — prior to their resignation and demotion, respectively — for their racist remarks, I expect that you and others in the caucus will exert your moral persuasion and request an apology from Congressman Watt.

“Attached are the exact words of Congressman Watt’s loud remarks, as heard by all in the meeting room without anyone admonishing him. In fact, some members rather enjoyed what he said, judging by their outward demeanor.

“The remarks: You’re just another arrogant white man — telling us what we can do — it’s all about your ego — another [expletive] arrogant white man.”

Those polls

“Welcome to the official start of the silly season, the time in a presidential election campaign when only fools and the truly, hopelessly addicted pay attention to the presidential horse race numbers in polls,” political analyst Charlie Cook writes at www.NationalJournal.com.

“From now until Labor Day, these polls will reflect the vice presidential selection bounce, then the Democratic convention bounce, and finally a Republican convention bounce — assuming there is no GOP vice presidential selection bounce. At that point, things should begin to settle down, and by about mid-September, the numbers should begin to have some meaning again,” Mr. Cook said.

No help in N.C.

Although presidential candidate Sen.John Kerry got a small bounce nationally from his selection of Sen. John Edwards as vice-presidential candidate, a Gallup poll done for CNN and USA Today shows that Mr. Edwards failed to boost the Democratic ticket in his home state of North Carolina.

The North Carolina survey showed President Bush with a 15-point advantage over Mr. Kerry, 54 percent to 39 percent. Nationally, Mr. Kerry led 50 percent to 45 percent, with independent candidate Ralph Nader at 2 percent. The state poll was taken Friday through Sunday, and the national poll Thursday through Sunday.

Meanwhile, an Associated Press poll found that 67 percent of respondents see Mr. Bush as “decisive,” while only 45 percent would describe Mr. Kerry that way. But Mr. Kerry outpolled Mr. Bush 83 percent to 63 percent on the term “intelligent.”

Rosie’s rant

On the eve of a possible U.S. Senate vote to protect marriage, homosexual celebrity Rosie O’Donnell spoke out against the proposed constitutional amendment during a stop on a homosexual-friendly cruise, according to Florida TV station WKMG (www.local6.com).

“I think this cruise comes at the perfect time, when they’re considering an amendment making it illegal for us to have families,” Miss O’Donnell said.

Miss O’Donnell railed against President Bush and the administration, according to the report.

“It will be the first time, except for Prohibition, that bigotry has been added to the Constitution,” Miss O’Donnell said. “That the prevention of rights and exclusion of rights takes paramount over some religious ideology. And, supposedly, that is what we are fighting in Iraq — a religious extreme government that is not letting people live freely.”

The Norwegian Dawn cruise ship docked in Port Canaveral, Fla., yesterday with more than 2,000 passengers.

The seven-day trip departed New York on Sunday and is the first cruise of R Family Vacations, the O’Donnell-backed company that promotes “family-friendly” vacations for homosexuals.

No such plan

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said the Bush administration is not considering any plan to establish a process for canceling or rescheduling an election interrupted by terrorism.

Federal officials warned last week that intelligence indicates al Qaeda wants to attack the United States to disrupt the upcoming elections.

“There does not appear to be a clear process in place to suspend or reschedule voting during an election if there is a major terrorist attack,” the Rev. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, wrote in a letter Monday to Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the one-page letter.

Miss Rice said the Bush administration, although it is concerned about the impact of terrorism, is not thinking of postponing the elections.

“We’ve had elections in this country when we were at war, even when we were in Civil War. And we should have the elections on time. That’s the view of the president. That’s the view of the administration,” Miss Rice told CNN on Monday.

Mr. Soaries also sent lawmakers copies of an earlier letter he wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge that said no federal agency has the statutory authority to cancel or reschedule a federal election.

USDA bill

The House voted yesterday to allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada and other countries at prices lower than those found in the United States, but the provision’s prospects of becoming law this year are dim, the Associated Press reports.

The measure, approved as part of a $16.8 billion bill to fund the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for next year, would prohibit the FDA from spending money to enforce its prohibition on imports of FDA-approved drugs.

The provision is not expected to remain in the final spending bill to be reconciled later by House and Senate negotiators, a Republican staff member said.

The bill passed the House yesterday by a 389-31 vote.

As part of the bill, the House also voted to prohibit using government money for a $9.6 billion bailout for tobacco farmers. Just 10 days ago, the House approved the buyout as part of a broad corporate-tax bill, but that measure is hurting the tax bill in the Senate.

Cheney’s wit

Vice President Dick Cheney, at a fund-raiser on Monday night in Pittsburgh, “showed a little bit of his lighter side,” CNN political editor John Mercurio writes in the Morning Grind column at www.cnn.com.

” ‘Somebody said to me the other day that Senator [John] Edwards got picked for his good looks and charm,’ Cheney said. And I said, ” ‘How do you think I got this job?’ ”

Ba dum bum.’ ”

As the crowd laughed, a smiling Cheney turned and deadpanned, ” ‘Why is that funny?’ ”

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

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