- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Babs et al.

Those vexed with Tinseltown have a new treat. “Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon, The Case Against Celebrity,” by Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner, takes on the left-leaning glitterati — including Susan Sarandon, Barbra Streisand and Sean Penn — and the whole cast of “bloviating bleeding hearts.”

“The cycle of hypocrisy among the entertainment elite simply cannot hold up to public scrutiny. The Hollywood wings of the vast loony conspiracy have feathered their nests with capitalist spoils,” the authors write. “They live more opulently than royalty … yet put a microphone in front of their faces and they channel the spirit of Che Guevara.”

The authors continue, “During the halcyon nights of the Clinton presidency, showbiz players — big and small — gained unlimited access to executive power and turned Washington into a big-budget Hollywood production, replete with the requisite struggle to avoid an NC-17 rating. Movie star, producer, diva and sitcom actress spent countless evenings at the White House, and at times, even policy was discussed.”

John Wiley & Sons (800/225-5945) published the book.

At the trough

During his presidential campaign, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts had missed the Senate’s first 22 roll call votes of this year, prior to yesterday’s votes, and was absent for 292, or 64 percent, of the votes last year, according to a Boston Herald review of Senate records.

Mr. Kerry is not the only political truant, the Herald noted yesterday. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina also missed every roll call this year and skipped 178, or 39 percent, of the votes last year.

Mr. Kerry is reportedly worth as much as $838 million. Still, he has not been held accountable to an 1850s federal law that requires the Senate to deduct pay from absent lawmakers.

Dominick Ianno of the Massachusetts Republican Party said he finds it “offensive” that Mr. Kerry is still receiving his full $158,000 yearly salary.

“It’s a slap in the face to every hard-working taxpayer who shows up to work every day to earn their pay. John Kerry is not showing up for work and he shouldn’t get paid,” Mr. Ianno said.

Decent proposal

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay got tough on TV during a speech before the National Association of Broadcasters yesterday.

“The status quo will not stand,” the Texas Republican said. “I am not endorsing censorship or any content-based regulatory retribution, but the patience of the American people is approaching a breaking point.”

He continued, “The television industry, like every other industry, works best when it regulates and polices itself. But if the entertainment industry cannot pull itself together and stay within some boundaries of decency, Congress will have no choice but to step in. Make no mistake: If decision makers at studios, networks and affiliates fail to appreciate the sensitivity of the post-Super Bowl environment, the consequences will not be merely economic.”

The big solo

Starting tomorrow, MoveOn.org — a California-based group with ties to former President Bill Clinton — begins a $2 million TV ad campaign in 17 key presidential battleground states.

“John Kerry, the Democratic front-runner, is considering a modest response designed to put the White House on the defensive. … The Democratic National Committee is waiting until there is a nominee before it starts running ads. That leaves outside groups like MoveOn, acting independently of the campaign, as the primary Democratic voice,” noted the Associated Press yesterday.

MoveOn has raised $10 million for ads that call President Bush a “misleader” and condemn his policies. The group recently sponsored a contest for the best “anti-Bush” ads, one of which equated Mr. Bush with Nazism.

Two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs founded MoveOn during Mr. Clinton’s impeachment as a petition urging Congress to censure him and just “move on.”

Tax attack

The tiny ski town of Killington wants out of Vermont — and into New Hampshire. Three hundred residents voted to secede yesterday from Howard Dean’s stomping grounds because of their frustrating tax burden.

“The state is treating us like a cash cow,” said town manager David Lewis.

New Hampshire Gov. Craig Benson is adopting a “wait and see” attitude until the Vermonters appear before their legislature. Citizens spent $20,000 on a feasibility study and are now drafting a petition for Mr. Benson to consider.

“At the heart of the displeasure with Vermont is the state’s new system of financing education adopted in 1997 under order of the Supreme Court which dramatically increased property taxes in communities like Killington, deemed to be property wealthy,” the Manchester Union Leader noted yesterday.

The town could save $6 million in taxes as a New Hampshire hamlet.

Crank-ite

He may be 87, with an august history as a newsman, but Walter Cronkite has emerged as a critic of the Bush administration.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday, Mr. Cronkite “derided what he calls ‘the Bush administration’s facade of self-righteous certainty.’ He says he feels liberated to speak his mind, to ‘vent my rage and let the chips fall where they will.’ Cronkite doesn’t hesitate to crank up his Moses-like rhetoric, in speech and in print, drawing on his deep well of journalistic gravitas.”

The Chronicle continued, “Just before railing against the Christian right’s objection to gay marriage — ‘That’s about as obnoxious a thing as has ever happened’ — Cronkite was asked to what he attributed the longevity of his own marriage to [his wife of 63 years] Betsy.”

“‘I do think one of the factors was we were of different sexes. … That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have been happy to be married to several friends I had of the same sex. It just never came up in our particular relations.’”

Counting chickens?

President Bush is making an unprecedented request to use up to $1 million budgeted for a possible presidential transition to train top officials who would join his administration if he won a second term.

The proposal, which will require Congress’ approval, is the first time a president has sought to use public transition funds to prepare officials to enter a re-elected administration, White House officials and others told the Associated Press.

“We’re trying to use a modest amount of resources to make sure they are trained and prepared,” said White House budget office spokesman Chad Kolton. He said new officials “need to be walked through what the parameters are, where things stand with ongoing projects.”

Democrats say the funds should not be used when a sitting president is re-elected.

Mr. Bush has proposed $7.7 million for a potential transition. He also asked Congress to amend the Presidential Transition Act to allow using up to $1 million from that amount “for training and briefings for incoming appointees associated with the second term of an incumbent president.”

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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