- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2006

Busby’s misstep

The Democratic candidate for the U.S. House seat left vacant by the resignation of scandal-tarred ex-Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham finds herself trying to explain a remark she made last week to a largely Hispanic audience: “You don’t need papers for voting.”

On Thursday night, Francine Busby, the Democratic candidate for the 50th Congressional District in California, was speaking in Escondido when she uttered those words. She said Friday she simply misspoke, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

But someone taped it and a recording began circulating Friday. After she made that statement at the meeting, Mrs. Busby immediately said: “You don’t need to be a registered voter to help” the campaign.

She said that subsequent statement was to clarify what she meant.

The recording, which was played Friday on Roger Hedgecock’s radio talk show in San Diego, jolted the campaign in its waning days. The special election takes place tomorrow.

Mrs. Busby, a Cardiff school board member, is in a tight race with Republican Brian Bilbray, a congressman-turned-lobbyist, who has based his campaign on a tough anti-illegal alien stance. Mrs. Busby has focused her campaign on ethics reform. The two are vying to replace Cunningham, who was imprisoned after pleading guilty to taking bribes.

Mrs. Busby said she was invited to the forum at the Jocelyn Senior Center in Escondido by the leader of a local soccer league. Many of the 50 or so people there were Spanish speakers. Toward the end, a man in the audience asked in Spanish: “I want to help, but I don’t have papers.”

His Spanish was translated to her, and Mrs. Busby replied: “Everybody can help, yeah, absolutely, you can all help. You don’t need papers for voting, you don’t need to be a registered voter to help.”

Mr. Bilbray said that at worst, Mrs. Busby was encouraging someone to vote illegally. At best, she was encouraging someone who is illegally in the country to work on her campaign.

“She’s soliciting illegal aliens to campaign for her and it’s on tape. This isn’t exactly what you call the pinnacle of ethical campaign strategy,” Mr. Bilbray said. “I don’t know how she shows her face.”

Jeb’s job

“If only his last name were Smith. He’d not only attract national attention as the popular and successful governor of a difficult-to-govern state. He’d be viewed sympathetically as a leader who had dealt with family issues — his wife’s aversion to politics, his daughter’s bouts with drug addiction — without losing his grip on the governorship. And he’d be the prohibitive [front-runner] for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

“But his last name is Bush. So Jeb Bush, nearing the end of his eight years as governor of Florida, has to settle for being the best governor in America. Not proclaimed the best governor by the media and the political community. But recognized as the best by a smaller group: governors who served with him and experts and think-tank and conservative policy wonks who regard state government as something other than a machine for taxing and spending,” Mr. Barnes said.

“Why is Jeb Bush the best? It’s very simple. His record is the best. No other governor, Republican or Democrat, comes close. Donna Arduin, perhaps the most respected state budget expert in the country, has worked for four big-state Republican governors — John Engler of Michigan, George Pataki of New York, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, and Bush. Even while she worked for Schwarzenegger, she told me Bush is ‘absolutely’ the nation’s premier governor. ‘He’s principled, brilliant, willing to ignore his pollsters, and say no to his friends,’ she says.”

The track record

Al Gore will be in Houston this week promoting his movie and book, ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’ Predictably, his message is dire. The planet must be saved — and quickly — from man-made carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions produced by coal, petroleum and natural-gas usage. Self-interested consumer choices are the culprit, and a government-directed reshaping of energy production and consumption is necessary. The Gore-led campaign is clear: A grass-roots movement must arise to force politicians to give us our bitter medicine — smaller cars, more expensive appliances and higher gasoline prices and electricity rates,” Robert L. Bradley Jr. writes in the Houston Chronicle.

“Wait! Before we jump to government energy-planning, let’s look at the track record of the sky-is-falling crowd. Didn’t we hear in the 1960s that the ‘population bomb’ would cause food riots in American cities and mass starvation globally? Didn’t the Club of Rome in the 1970s predict the end of mineral resources by now? Wasn’t global cooling the scare before global warming? Isn’t it suspicious that the problem is always individual behavior, and the solution is always government action?” said Mr. Bradley, president of Institute for Energy Research and author of “Climate Alarmism Reconsidered.”

“There should be great hesitation before swallowing the Chicken Little du jour. The good news is that the bad news about the climate is exaggerated. Leading climate scientists such as Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Houston’s own Dr. Neil Frank, a hurricane expert, as well as popular writers such as Michael Crichton, John Stossel and George Will are not careless, deceivers or plain bad folks. They are reporting the flaws in the analysis behind climate alarmism.”

Fletcher’s choice

Moving quickly after being spurned by his lieutenant governor, Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher on Saturday announced a new running mate for his re-election campaign next year.

Mr. Fletcher introduced state Finance Secretary Robbie Rudolph at a meeting of the state Republican Central Committee, the Associated Press reports.

“I’m very excited about running, and I’ve got the fire in the belly to do it, and we’re going to get it done,” Mr. Fletcher told reporters in Louisville.

Mr. Fletcher, Kentucky’s first Republican governor since 1971, was recently indicted on misdemeanor charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination. He is accused of rewarding political supporters with protected state jobs after he took office in 2003.

Last summer, Mr. Fletcher issued a blanket pardon for anyone in his administration who might face charges in the investigation — except himself.

Lt. Gov. Steve Pence said Wednesday that he would not run again with Mr. Fletcher and refused the governor’s request to resign. Mr. Pence said Saturday the investigation had nothing to do with his decision. He also said he has no plans to run for any office.

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

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