- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Kerry misfire?

“Was Dem presidential hopeful John Kerry seen this weekend waving a gun which would have been banned if legislation he co-sponsored became law?” Matt Drudge asks at his Web site (www.drudgereport.com).

“Kerry co-sponsored S. 1431 last year (The Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2003), which would have banned a ‘semiautomatic shotgun that has a pistol grip,’” Mr. Drudge said.

“Opponents of the bill successfully argued how nearly all guns have ‘pistol grips,’ including millions of Browning Auto-5 shotguns produced since 1903.

“Photos show Kerry’s hand resting on the ‘pistol grip,’ as loosely defined in the bill. [Section SEC. 2; (H) (ii) and (b)(42): ‘The term “pistol grip” means a grip, a thumbhole stock, or any other characteristic that can function as a grip.’]

“Kerry was presented with the semiautomatic shotgun during a Labor Day stop in Racine, W.Va.

“‘I thank you for the gift, but I can’t take it to the debate with me,’ Kerry told a cheering crowd as he held up the device.

“But Kerry’s gun bill would have also banned any ‘gift’ transaction,” Mr. Drudge said, adding, “It is not clear if Kerry completed the required paperwork (Form 4473) before he claimed the gun.”

Preacher Zell

“I didn’t know until I saw replays on television that Zell Miller looked angry during his convention speech — like a Baptist preacher going after flagrant sins,” Michael Novak writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“From where I sat in Madison Square Garden, Miller looked like he was having a grand old time, getting something big off his chest with as much zest, gusto, and good ol’ Baptist invective as he could,” said Mr. Novak, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

“People all around the country reacted to Zell as I did. My sister, who was in Cincinnati at a six-week consultation of nuclear engineers and other technicians from all over the country, told me the next morning that all anybody could talk about in the usually silent and grumpy early morning breakfast room was Zell Miller. They loved the speech.

“Some were former Democrats, some were Republicans angry at Bush for one reason or another (the war, the spending, etc.), but Miller was speaking for many of them when he explained why he did not want to vote for this Democrat. My sister was the co-chair of Jimmy Carter’s winning campaign in Michigan in 1976, and Zell spoke for her, too.

“To quibble over whether Zell was right on this or that point, or as fair and balanced as the reporters of the Associated Press, or as evenhanded as Joe Klein, is to miss the point when listening to a Baptist sermon, rendered by a Southern populist who relishes his heritage.”

Guard records

President Bush ranked in the middle of his Air National Guard flight class and flew 336 hours in a fighter jet before letting his pilot status lapse and missing a key readiness drill in 1972, according to flight records released yesterday under the Freedom of Information Act.

Defense officials told the Associated Press that they had found two dozen new records detailing the president’s training and flight logs after AP filed a lawsuit.

The Pentagon said, “At the time President Bush left the service, flight records were subject to retention for only 24 months, and we understood that neither the Air Force nor the Texas Air National Guard retained such records thereafter.

“The Department of Defense regrets this oversight during the previous search efforts,” the Pentagon said.

Still, the new logs shed little light on charges made by Democrats that Mr. Bush shirked his Guard duties. They show that Mr. Bush, a lieutenant in the Texas Air National Guard, ranked No. 22 in a class of 53 pilots when he finished his flight training at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia in 1969.

Blame the customer

“Roger Ailes is one lucky dude,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“Even when his Fox News Channel routs his bigger television competitors in the ratings, media elites still bury their heads in their own rationalizations,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“Fox achieved another milestone last week when its coverage of the Republican National Convention won more viewers than those of the major broadcast networks. For President Bush’s speech on Thursday, some 7.3 million viewers tuned into Fox, compared with the 5.9 million who watched second-place NBC. On Wednesday, Fox’s 5.9 million viewers matched the number who watched ABC and CBS combined.

“The elite reaction to Fox’s success has moved from denial, to vituperation, to (most recently) blaming the viewers. We heard Howard Kurtz, the CNN-Washington Post media critic, opining last week that the Fox ratings reflected the desire of ‘partisans’ to tune into media where they will only hear what they want to hear.

“Allow us to suggest that viewers are smarter than that. It’s always possible that Americans, especially Republicans and conservatives, are flocking to Fox because they don’t believe what they hear on the other networks. And, just to posit another alternative theory, maybe it’s also better for democracy if these viewers tune into Fox rather than tune out politics altogether. One thing we know for sure: In any other American industry, a business that was losing market share as fast as the TV networks are losing it wouldn’t be blaming the customers.”

Kelly’s charges

George W. Bush used cocaine at Camp David when his father was president, according to a new book by Kitty Kelly, who specializes in gossipy biographies of the famous.

Miss Kelly, who once wrote a book claiming that first lady Nancy Reagan had an affair with Frank Sinatra at the White House, also says Laura Bush experimented with marijuana in her youth.

Miss Kelly says in “The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty” that Mr. Bush first used cocaine at Yale in the mid-1960s, according to the Daily Mirror, a British tabloid.

She quotes his former sister-in-law, Sharon Bush, who says, “Bush did coke at Camp David when his father was president, and not just once either.”

Other acquaintances say that as a 26-year-old member of the National Guard, Mr. Bush “liked to sneak out back for a joint or into the bathroom for a line of cocaine.”

The White House said, “This book appears to be filled with the same trash discredited years ago.”

Awaiting transplant

Rep. Charlie Norwood, Georgia Republican, announced yesterday that he is waiting to undergo a single-lung transplant at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax.

Mr. Norwood, 63, was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in 1998. It is a lung disease of unknown cause that gradually restricts the ability to breathe. The only known treatment for the disease is a lung transplant. Mr. Norwood said he is near the top of the transplant list after having been on it for several years. The Surgical Group of Inova Transplant Center will perform the surgery.

After the transplant, Mr. Norwood said, he will spend two to three weeks at Inova Fairfax before returning to his apartment in Washington. Normal congressional duties would resume in three months.

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

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