- The Washington Times - Friday, May 12, 2006

This column incorrectly reported the ownership of a large sport utility vehicle featured in an ad on gas prices being run by the Senate campaign of Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., Tennessee Democrat. Mr. Ford leases a Chevrolet Tahoe at government expense, but the vehicle in the ad is not that truck.

Ford and his Chevy

“People have a right to drive what they want to drive. I think that if we ask for sacrifice from our troops, we should ask for sacrifice from the American people. And I think, with the right leadership, our country would take those steps and give up those automobiles and those trucks and SUVs,” Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., Tennessee Democrat, told MSNBC on Wednesday.

Uh-oh. Mr. Ford drives a Chevy Tahoe, leased at $8,049 a year at taxpayer expense, according to a March 12 analysis by Knight Ridder. He also spent $2,518 on gas, also taxpayer-funded, according to the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, Statement Of Disbursements of the House, 2005.

“Forty-five dollars to fill up your tank. It’s killing everyone — but the oil companies,” Mr. Ford tells his audience in a 30-second campaign spot released Monday. “Last year big oil made $100 billion in profits, and Exxon’s CEO got a $400 million package that you and I paid for. That’s wrong. No more tax breaks for oil companies when drivers need the break. Let’s invest in alternative fuels that help Tennessee. If you’re fed up every time you fill up, send a new generation to the Senate.”

Kinky’s quest

Pining to become Texas governor, musician and mystery writer Kinky Friedman arrived at state offices in Austin yesterday toting 169,574 voter signatures in the “Guv Bug,” a petite pink trailer topped by a big black hat. The signatures were three times the number needed to get him on the ballot, pleasing campaign manager Dean Barkley, who ran wrestler Jesse Ventura’s successful campaign for governor of Minnesota.

Mr. Friedman, who has proposed paying “Mexican generals” to patrol the Texas/Mexico border, says the two major political parties have lost their guts.

“There’s a feeling that Republicans have left Ronnie Reagan way behind as the Democrats have left JFK,” Mr. Friedman, 61, told a small but enthusiastic crowd.

His opponents include Republican Gov. Rick Perry, Democrat Chris Bell and independent Carole Strayhorn, who managed to turn in 223,000 voter signatures.

“Of course she got more signatures than me. She had all her ex-husbands sign,” Mr. Friedman observed.

District of Columba

A disquieting wrinkle has developed in deep-seated Republican dismay over immigration policies and illegal aliens. Here is some stark reaction to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush running for president in 2008, a possibility broached by President Bush during a recent press conference.

Received by phone at The Washington Times yesterday from a peeved Republican woman in Maryland: “I voted for father Bush, and I voted for the president. But I can guarantee I will never vote for another Bush. The president has opened our borders, we are overrun with Mexicans. … And there will not be a Latina first lady in the White House. Not in my lifetime.”

Jeb Bush’s wife, Columba Garnica Gallo, 52, was born in Leon, Mexico.

Jeb’s future

Others are reacting to the possibility of President Bush 3.

“Jeb Bush’s failure to recruit anybody to run for U.S. Senate from Florida — even though he has trashed the chances of Rep. Katherine Harris for the same seat — is a tremendous black eye for Jeb and for President Bush. One would think that with all the power of the presidency and the governorship, Florida Republicans should be able to field a formidable candidate. That they haven’t done so is a travesty, and quite simply a failure to fulfill a political responsibility,” Quin Hillyer wrote at the American Spectator online yesterday.

“The only other potential candidate seems to be Rep. Mark Foley,” he continues, later adding, “Why is there no clamor for Jeb himself to run? He failed to find an alternative, so why is there no pressure on him to fill the gap? … If this man ever wants Republicans to consider him for the presidency, he darn well ought to have to deliver a strong Senate candidate in his own home state.”

Hillary’s unfavorables

President Bush’s declining poll numbers have been widely reported, but what isn’t so well known is that prominent Democrats, some of whom would like his job, aren’t doing so well either.

A poll of 1,241 Americans for CBS News last week found that more people have an unfavorable opinion (35 percent) of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York than a favorable one (34 percent). Nearly a third, 32 percent, say they are undecided about her or have no opinion.

Scores for Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democrats’ 2004 presidential nominee, were worse: 38 percent unfavorable to 26 percent favorable. Former Vice President Al Gore’s ratings are equally dismal: 39 percent unfavorable to 28 percent favorable.

License to kill

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has a new billboard to confront on Interstate 40 near Albuquerque. The Manhattan-based Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License (CSDL) has put up a billboard featuring a mock-up of one of the eight driver’s licenses held by 911 terrorist Mohamed Atta, emblazoned with, “Some States Made it Easy — Don’t License Terrorists, New Mexico.”

The group views a license as a key tool for potential terrorists who want to rent a truck, board an aircraft, buy a gun, receive international funds and more.

“New Mexico has one of the weakest driver licensing systems in the country,” said CSDL President Amanda Bowman. “A terrorist crossing our border into New Mexico easily can obtain a New Mexico driver’s license. … Governor Richardson seems to be a man of two minds. He declares a state of emergency on the border, yet allows his state to hand out powerful identification documents every day to absolute strangers.”

Screen gems

Those weary of nonstop bad news about Iraq have at last been heard. The Media Research Center (MRC) delivered 142,332 petitions signed by irate viewers directly to the Washington bureaus of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News, demanding they report the efforts and successes of American military forces abroad.

“The American public is outraged by the anti-war and anti-troops liberal bias at the news networks,” MRC President Brent Bozell said yesterday.

The personal petition states: “For too long, citizens across this nation have stood by in silence and endured the media’s half-truths. … I am calling on the media to present accurately the progress of the war, the patriotism of our troops and the support of citizens across America.”

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

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