- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2004

Political fools

Super Tuesday has arrived, a telling time in most presidential primaries, when one or more politicians are humbled. And it’s not any more comfortable in congressional races.

Vice President Dick Cheney, a former Republican lawmaker from Wyoming, tells the story of his last campaign for Congress, his sixth such race before leaving to become defense secretary.

“We always had a tradition. We began the fall campaign with a rally and a barbecue down in the little farming community of Torrington, down along the Wyoming-Nebraska border,” he recalls.

“The farm groups would have all the candidates, Republican and Democrat alike, come out and talk to the folks, tell them what you were going to do for them if you get elected. And after I’d run five times previously, you assume everybody knows who you are. Your picture has been on television, [your] name has been in the newspaper. You’ve done the door-to-door work and the rallies, and the barbecues, been toiling away for 10 years representing them in the U.S. Congress,” Mr. Cheney notes.

“Before it was my turn to get up and speak at that last rally, though, I went out and wanted to make sure I’d greeted every voter there. So I walked up to one old cowboy with his back up against the tree and cowboy hat pulled down over his eyes, reached out and grabbed him by the hand and said, ‘Hi, I’m Dick Cheney. I’m running for Congress, and I’d like your vote.’

“He said, ‘You got it. That fool we got in there now is no damn good.’”

Updated list

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is going to extreme lengths to keep Education Secretary Rod Paige’s description of the National Education Association — “a terrorist organization” — on the front-burner of the 2004 presidential campaign.

Calling for Mr. Paige to resign for offering his personal opinion (as if his fellow educators in this country don’t opine before our children on a daily basis), the DNC has actually printed the State Department’s current list of foreign terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, Hamas, Shining Path, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and now — or so the Democrats contend in writing — 3 million U.S. teachers.

Nothing’s free

The latest roundup of outrageous federal spending, including taxpayer-funded limousines for Jennifer Lopez and other USO concerts — even though federal guidelines require luxury expenses be paid out of private donations — has outraged one Republican lawmaker.

Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling quotes a current Washington Waste Watchers summary of how the General Accounting Office has uncovered roughly $433,000 in “inappropriate expenses” that the USO has charged to the Pentagon over a two-year period.

“The charges were for alcohol, limousines and first-class airplane tickets in conjunction with concerts performed by Jennifer Lopez, Kid Rock, Ja Rule, and others,” it states. “In one instance, the Pentagon paid MTV $343,910 for ‘production expenses’ at the Lopez concert.”

Sharing the pot

The first federal political action committee that focused on the medicinal-marijuana issue has made its first-ever campaign contributions to a bipartisan bunch battling it out in closely contested races.

“This is the next step in the evolution of medical marijuana as a political issue,” says Steve Fox, director of government relations for the new Marijuana Policy Project Medical Marijuana PAC in Washington, whose mission is to support candidates who work to ensure that physician-approved patients have legal access to medicinal marijuana — and to oppose officeholders who work against such protections.

Recipients of contributions are Republican Reps. Bob Beauprez of Colorado and Jon Porter of Nevada, and Democratic Reps. Michael H. Michaud of Maine, Timothy H. Bishop of New York, and Rick Larsen of Washington. In addition, pot money is going to Democrat Paul Babbitt of Arizona, who is running against Republican Rep. Rick Renzi.

The Passion

“You won’t work in this town again, bub,

‘Cause there’s one thing we know: how to snub.

— What? The film’s doing well?

We believed in you, Mel.

Let’s do lunch. Welcome back to the club!”

— F.R. Duplantier

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected].

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