- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Working for free

Liberal talk-radio network Air America has not only lost most of its initial management team and stations in Chicago and Los Angeles, but star performer Al Franken is working for free.

Mr. Franken, in an interview last week, said “that he had agreed not to draw a salary, however temporarily, making him ‘an involuntary investor,’” the New York Times reports.

Mr. Franken’s admission is “a sign that the privately held company’s financial woes have not fully abated,” reporter Jacques Steinberg writes.

Calling Congress

“The word on Capitol Hill is that not enough calls have been coming into congressional offices urging Congress to vote to send the Federal Marriage Amendment to the states for ratification,” Paul M. Weyrich, president and chief executive of the Free Congress Foundation, writes at www.freecongress.org.

“If Congress says it can’t hear us, Congress won’t feel pressured to act. The word has to start coming from the grass roots with an intensity that will make it an unmistakable message: ‘We demand action to defend the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. We are watching this issue closely. What you do on this issue will be remembered in November!’

“Plenty of Christians outside the Beltway know they do not want homosexual marriage to become legal. The problem is that they must let Congress know. Our complacency, our silence — if we do not become more vocal on this issue — runs the danger of becoming the homosexual-rights lobby’s victory. This is an issue that Christians in the states should be speaking out on in an unmistakable roar loud enough to be heard by Congress,” Mr. Weyrich said.

Arnold’s prowess

Since taking office, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has collected about $18 million — three times as much campaign money as his predecessor, Gray Davis, did in the same period, while also raising huge amounts for other Republican candidates, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

On May 24, Mr. Schwarzenegger raised $2 million for Republicans at a glitzy fund-raiser in downtown Los Angeles. And during a Thursday night event in Santa Barbara County, he raised $400,000 for Republicanstate Sen. Tom McClintock — four times more than his recall-election rival has received at any event during 22 years in elected politics.

“Arnold is something the Republican Party needed for a long, long time: a high, elected official who has the celebrity status to bring in people to a fund-raiser who normally would not go to a fund-raiser,” said Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican political consultant.

“Arnold is achieving that goal. He’s the goose who lays the golden egg, the cash cow, the ATM of Republican politics. Name any cliche you want. They’re thrilled.”

So far, Mr. Schwarzenegger has attended or committed to fund-raisers for six Republican legislative candidates, including five incumbents. His appearance typically raises about three to five times more money than the candidate alone would get.

Richardson’s vow

The weekend arrests of a prominent judge and a state education leader on drug charges has prompted New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to promise redoubled efforts to stamp out the “scourges” of drugs and alcohol.

Judge John Brennan, chief judge of state district court in Albuquerque, and Patricia Mattioli, head of the state Commission on Higher Education’s Gear-Up program, were arrested on drug-possession charges early Saturday after Judge Brennan reportedly tried to elude officers conducting a DWI checkpoint.

“This incident shows the pervasiveness of the DWI and drug problem that exists today,” the Democratic governor said. “We must deal with these problems aggressively, regardless of the status of any individual.”

Police said Judge Brennan, 57, appeared to be “extremely intoxicated” when he was pulled over just after midnight. Officers found what they believed to be cocaine in his vehicle.

The arrests were the latest DWI cases involving public officials in New Mexico. State Rep. Joe Thompson and Arthur Salazar, associate superintendent of schools in Espanola, have both pleaded guilty to drunken-driving charges in the past year, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Richardson said he was “deeply disappointed and disturbed” by the latest arrests.

“This incident will only redouble my efforts to deal with the DWI and drug scourges in our state in the next legislative session,” he said.

Big lead

In Illinois, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama holds a commanding lead over his opponent with five months remaining until the November election, according to a poll released yesterday.

Mr. Obama is supported by 52 percent of the state’s registered voters, while 30 percent favor Republican Jack Ryan, according to the first statewide Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll since the two won their primaries in March.

Both men are vying to replace Sen. Peter G. Fitzgerald, a Republican who has decided not to seek re-election, citing a desire to spend more time with his family.

Twenty-five percent of voters surveyed for the poll viewed Mr. Ryan unfavorably, while Mr. Obama had an unfavorable rating of 9 percent, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Obama, who is black, was also found to have the support of 91 percent of black voters versus just 4 percent for Mr. Ryan.

Mr. Ryan’s campaign has been dogged by negative publicity concerning a video camera-toting aide who shadowed Mr. Obama’s campaign. Mr. Ryan, a millionaire investment banker-turned-teacher, also faces the release of sealed court records from his divorce from actress Jeri Ryan.

The poll, conducted May 21-24, surveyed 600 registered Illinois voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

Relishing a jibe

Michael Moore’s ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ a propaganda film dedicated to discrediting the War on Terror, won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival,” National Review notes in an editorial in its June 14 issue.

“One can relish Christopher Hitchens’ jibe at Moore’s popularity abroad. Europeans, said Hitchens, ‘think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they’ve taken … as their representative American someone who actually embodies all of those qualities.’

“One’s relish must be tempered, however, by the reflection that Europeans do indeed think of Moore as a shrewd and honest analyst of America and its discontents. Moore’s books are best-sellers here, but they take their place in a scrum of agitated political best-sellers that cover the spectrum. In Europe, he stands alone, as gospel. Remember when alienated American writers used to look like Henry James?”

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

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