- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Pelosi’s stand

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is the first major Democratic leader to endorse homosexual “marriage,” telling the Fox News Channel she supports the mayor of San Francisco, who has defied state law by issuing the licenses to homosexual couples.

On his program yesterday, Neil Cavuto asked her whether same-sex couples should be allowed to “marry.”

“Yes, and I don’t think that they should be discriminated in the Constitution and my goal is to defeat that resolution, and I’m not going to be sidetracked,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

Asked whether she approved of “what the mayor of San Francisco is doing,” Mrs. Pelosi said, “Yes.”

Mrs. Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, including presidential candidate John Kerry, have denounced attempts to amend the Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman, but always while saying they believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

President Bush has said he supports amending the Constitution to enshrine that definition of marriage, and to make sure no state has to recognize a homosexual “marriage” issued by another state.

Mrs. Pelosi, whose district centers in San Francisco, said she will “use my leadership to defeat a desecration of the Constitution that the president is putting there to diminish freedom in our country.”

Strategic blunder?

Campaign strategist Dick Morris says that when pundits and politicos look back on the 2004 presidential campaign a year from now, March will very likely be “the month in which Sen. John Kerry lost the election.”

The political guru who shaped President Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign says Mr. Kerry made a huge strategic blunder this month when he focused on fund raising and went skiing instead of responding to the Bush campaign’s stinging attacks that Mr. Morris says have already defined the senator “as a taxer, spender, internationalist, appeaser and all-around flip-flopper.”

“As a result, both the Zogby and Rasmussen polls have the race even today after two weeks of pounding by the Bush campaign,” Mr. Morris writes in the latest issue of the Hill.

When the terrorists set off their bombs at a Madrid train station, “countering the terrorist organization’s international offensive became the only issue in American politics,” he said. “And it is the only issue Bush wins.”

While Mr. Kerry was winning the nomination by double-digit margins, polls show, by 10-point margins, that people believe “Bush was the superior wartime president.”

The Bush campaign’s ads have already done their job, he says. In the space of just a few weeks, “Kerry became too liberal for a significant segment of the swing voters as a result of the Bush attack commercials. Even at this writing, Kerry is failing to answer the Bush negatives and is falling prey to their arguments.”

He added: “By conceding the field to the Republicans in March, Kerry has likely cooked his own goose.”

Imus vs. Stahl

Radio personality Don Imus called CBS’ Lesley Stahl a “gutless, lying weasel” yesterday for abruptly canceling an interview during which Mr. Imus planned to hammer her about a conflict of interest, the New York Post reports.

“I realize it’s a little late in your life, honey, to start gettin’ honest, but just say, ‘I don’t want to appear on the program … because I heard what he said earlier this morning,’” Mr. Imus railed on his nationally syndicated radio program, which is also broadcast on cable-TV network MSNBC.

Mr. Imus had promised listeners he would ask Mrs. Stahl why she and “60 Minutes” did not disclose that the new book by Sunday night’s guest — former counterterrorism official Richard Clarke — was released by Simon & Schuster.

Both the publisher and CBS — as well as Mr. Imus’ home station, WFAN — are owned by media giant Viacom.

“60 Minutes” executive producer Don Hewitt said the program should have disclosed the corporate connection, but that leaving it out was merely an “oversight.”

Mr. Imus yesterday accused Mrs. Stahl of being “one of the more dishonest members of the media” for supposedly going too easy on Mr. Clarke, who has been characterized as a disgruntled former employee by Bush administration officials.

“She did everything but slip her tongue in his ear,” said sidekick Bernard McGuirk.

“No wonder Fox [News Channel] is killing people — because people hate these people,” Mr. Imus said.

A CBS News spokesman told the newspaper that Mrs. Stahl had to bow out of the Imus program to shoot extra footage at Grand Central Terminal for upcoming segments of her prime-time magazine “48 Hours Investigates.”

Valenti’s retirement

Jack Valenti, who has represented the movie industry in Washington for nearly 40 years, will retire in the next few months, his office said yesterday.

The 82-year-old head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) took a step closer to his long-expected retirement by telling cinema owners of his intentions at a conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reports.

“This is an epochal time for me, as this is the last time I will address exhibitors as the CEO of the MPAA,” he said, according to an MPAA statement.

He added: “I can sum up for you in two words my greatest accomplishment in that long tenure. Those two words are: ‘I survived.’ You have played a large part in my survival because of the rapport built so solidly between exhibitors and distributors.”

Lawmaker punished

The chairman of Louisiana’s House Insurance Committee has been stripped of his post after voting against a tax bill backed by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Tuesday that Democratic Rep. Troy Hebert was ousted from the committee chairmanship because he voted against a $160 million tax renewal on business utilities that ultimately passed by the smallest possible margin.

Mrs. Blanco strongly supported the legislation.

Mr. Hebert would not comment on his removal, but state House Speaker Joe Salter, a Democrat who took credit for the move, said Mr. Hebert knew when he made the vote what the consequences might be.

Playing the game

Think folks like Tim Russert, Tavis Smiley, Anderson Cooper, Ari Fleischer, Al Franken and Bob Woodward are smart? They’ll have a chance to prove it.

They’re among 15 “power players” signed up to play “Jeopardy!” in a special weeklong edition of the game that will be broadcast in May, it was announced Monday.

The game show will be in Washington to tape the segments early next month. Each contestant will be playing for charity — with the winner each day getting a $50,000 jackpot.

Other contestants will include Ashleigh Banfield, Maria Bartiromo, Aaron Brown, Gretchen Carlson, Tucker Carlson, Kweisi Mfume, Peggy Noonan, Keith Olbermann and Christine Todd Whitman, the Associated Press reports.

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

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