- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Kerry moment

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, assured his colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee yesterday that he was for free-trade agreements before he was against the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

“I have voted for every single trade agreement. I am not a protectionist,” Mr. Kerry said as lawmakers debated CAFTA.

“Even in the campaign last year, when there were enormous pressures not to, I voted for Chile, Singapore and Australia,” he said.

Congressional records, however, indicate he did not vote at all on the free-trade pacts. The three were approved without his support.

The Off-White House

Oh, dear. The White House may have some, uh, identity problems. Heidi Fleiss — the once-famous “Hollywood madam” — intends to build a brothel in Nevada that looks just like 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., not as “a political statement, just a marketing one,” according to Las Vegas ABC affiliate KLAS.

But the American Payroll Association is cringing at the thought. The 22,000-member trade group has operated “The White House Las Vegas” meeting facility in Vegas for more than a year, even trademarking the name. With white columns and classic portico, the site borrows heavily from White House cachet.

“You can imagine our concern,” said director Dan Maddux yesterday.

“While we can see the humor in this situation, we certainly don’t want any confused people calling us about rates and such. What are we supposed to do, clarify exactly what service they are calling about upfront?” asked Mr. Maddux. “Frankly, our rates for services are probably a lot cheaper than Heidi’s.”

Perhaps. He calls the payroll business “the world’s second-oldest profession.”

No. 6 and counting

The Senate yesterday confirmed one of its former lawyers, Thomas B. Griffith, to sit on the U.S. Appeals Court, the sixth judge it has elevated to the federal appellate court in the last month.

With a 73-24 vote, Judge Griffith became the newest member of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, taking a seat the Bush administration intended for lawyer Miguel Estrada, who dropped out in 2003 after being blocked by a Democratic filibuster.

President Bush replaced him with Judge Griffith last year, who earned his stripes by serving as the chamber’s general counsel during President Clinton’s impeachment. He later became Brigham Young University’s general counsel.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, called Judge Griffith “hard-working, fair-minded and honest.” Democrats — naturally — have opposed him, though Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada offered to bring his nomination up for a vote during the chamber’s deadlock over whether to ban the judicial filibuster.

Into the piggy bank

And speaking of impeachment, the Clintons are millionaires once again.

Using hefty speaking fees and book royalties, former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, have finally paid off legal bills left over from the troublesome Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky matters, according to financial records released yesterday.

“The couple’s holdings are now valued in the millions,” the Associated Press noted, with a joint bank account valued up to $25 million, and a blind trust possibly worth another $25 million.

Mr. Clinton earned $875,000 in speaking engagements last year and almost $14 million in the previous two years. Mrs. Clinton has collected another $8.7 million in royalties from her memoir “Living History.”

And the next step?

“Now maybe they could pay for the furniture they carted off,” noted Lucianne Goldberg at her Web site yesterday.

Our friends up North

Canadians believe President Bush is as great a threat to their country as Osama bin Laden, according to the National Post newspaper, which obtained a poll of 1,500 adults conducted in February by Canada’s Department of National Defense.

“International Organized Crime” topped the list, but “U.S. Foreign Policy” and “Terrorism,” were tied for second, followed by “Climate Change and Global Warming.”

“There’s a huge split in the Canadian public mind, between people who are worried about terrorism and people who think that the U.S. are the real terrorists,” said John Thompson of the MacKenzie Institute, a security think tank, according to the Post, which published the poll yesterday.

Bearing arms

Pro-gun folks and anti-gun folks are at adds over HR 218 — new federal legislation that allows retired police officers to carry concealed weapons. After Maryland kicked off a state program to implement the law this week, Leah Barrett of CeaseFire Maryland called the law “essentially dangerous.”

Now, the 650,000-member Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms wants an apology from her for insulting the law enforcement community.

“This federal legislation was passed not only to protect the right of retired police officers to defend themselves, but also provide some additional public safety,”said Joe Waldron, director of the group, based in Washington state.

“We’re wondering what kind of rhetoric Ms. Barrett might be reserving for her neighbors and fellow Americans who believe their right of self-defense extends beyond the confines of their home, and beyond the borders of their own state.”

Boo on the boo-hoo

The Wall Street Journal Online’s James Taranto is still pondering Sen. George V. Voinovich’s crying jag on Capitol Hill during the extended hearings on John R. Bolton’s nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The Ohio Republican’s weeping was a telling event.

“What makes Voinovich’s lachrymosity so ludicrous is its sincerity. Does Chris Dodd or Joe Biden or John Kerry or Barbara Boxer cry herself to sleep thinking about mean old John Bolton going to Turtle Bay? Not a chance,” Mr. Taranto writes, calling the episode “a display of weakmindedness, as well as emotional incontinence.”

He continued: “To put it another way, the Democrats can’t win elections or accomplish much of anything else — but damned if they can’t make George Voinovich cry. Even an expert should understand why that makes him the most ridiculous man in politics today.”

Off to Exxon

A former White House official whose editing of government reports on climate change prompted criticism from green groups will join Exxon Mobil Corp., the oil company said yesterday.

The White House announced over the weekend that Philip Cooney, chief of staff of its Council on Environmental Quality, had resigned, calling it a long-planned departure. He had been head of the climate program at the American Petroleum Institute trade group.

Mr. Cooney will join Exxon Mobil in the fall, company spokesman Russ Roberts told the Associated Press, though he declined to describe his new hire’s job. Mr. Cooney could not be reached through the White House for comment.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected]washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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