- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 12, 2006

Pelosi for Murtha

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, in line to become speaker of the House, yesterday stepped into a postelection power struggle among fellow Democrats with a letter of support for Rep. John P. Murtha in the race to pick a majority leader, the Associated Press reports.

“Your presence in the leadership of our party would add a knowledgeable and respected voice to our Democratic team,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, wrote Mr. Murtha. The Pennsylvania lawmaker is widely viewed as an underdog in a two-man race with Maryland Rep. Steny H. Hoyer in this week’s Democratic leadership elections.

Mr. Murtha issued a statement saying, “I am deeply gratified to receive the support of Speaker Pelosi, a tireless advocate for change and a true leader for our party and our country.”

Mr. Hoyer has been second-ranking in the Democratic leadership behind Mrs. Pelosi the past four years. He issued a statement saying he was confident he would win the race. “Nancy told me some time ago that she would personally support [Mr. Murtha]. I respect her decision, as the two are very close,” Mr. Hoyer said.

Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Hoyer have long been rivals within the party caucus, while she and Mr. Murtha are allies of long-standing.

Mr. Murtha gained national attention last year when he said U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Iraq.

Comedy team

They’re separated by more than 20 years, they come from opposing political parties and one evicted the other from the White House. But Bill Clinton and George Bush act like a team, a pair of touring comedians with a well-honed act.

The two former presidents even have their entrance down pat, striding in with arms aloft, music pounding, lights flashing, the crowd standing and going wild, the Associated Press reports.

The pair addressed more than 25,000 people in New Orleans attending the National Association of Realtors convention on Saturday, drawing at least six standing ovations and almost continuous applause.

It’s the biggest convention to come to the city since Hurricane Katrina hit Aug. 29, 2005.

One problem with retirement, Mr. Bush said, is that memories do not fail on certain topics.

“After 14 years, no one forgets if you throw up on the Japanese premier,” he said.

However, he said, years of being badgered by the press have left him with him a simple philosophy: “Now if I don’t like your questions, the heck with it, then I’m not going to answer them.”

Mr. Clinton played second banana after Mr. Bush’s round of jokes.

“You’ve just witnessed George Bush’s revenge for the 1992 campaign,” Mr. Clinton said of the year he defeated Mr. Bush for the presidency. “I’m condemned for the rest of my life to be his straight man.”

Political stamp

An absentee ballot was mailed with what may have been a rare stamp worth as much as $150,000 — the famous “Inverted Jenny” — but the envelope is in a box that by Florida law can’t be opened.

Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom discovered the stamp while reviewing absentee ballots. There was no name on the envelope, so the vote didn’t count.

What looked like a small stamp collection on one envelope caught Mr. Rodstrom’s eye about 8 p.m. Tuesday. At least one was from 1936, Mr. Rodstrom said. Then he noticed one had an upside down World War I-era airplane — the hallmark of an “Inverted Jenny.”

“I was a stamp collector when I was little,” Mr. Rodstrom told the Miami Herald. “I recognized it.”

Mr. Rodstrom discussed the stamp with other members of the canvassing board, and a stamp-collecting Broward County sheriff’s deputy overheard them talking about the possible Jenny.

He said the stamp would be very valuable if it was real. But it was too late.

“By that time, we had already sealed the box. And once you seal the box, under the election law, you can’t unseal it,”Broward County Court Judge Eric Beller said.

Elections officials will retain the ballot for 22 months, Jenny Nash, a spokeswoman for the Florida secretary of state’s office, told the Associated Press. After that, any action is up to the county elections supervisor.

Expensive loss

“While the defeat of Proposition 87 disappointed folks like Robert Redford, Julia Roberts and Ben Affleck, it probably stung producer Steve Bing the most — at least in terms of his wallet,” reporter Gabriel Snyder writes in Variety.

“A real estate heir who has put his money to work financing movies as well as political campaigns, Bing contributed nearly $50 million of his own money to the Yes on 87 campaign, supporting a California ballot initiative that would have taxed oil producers to raise $4 billion for alternative-energy research,” the reporter said.

“But after such an expensive loss, will he continue to be the go-to guy for Democratic fundraising?

“Bing himself is notoriously press-shy (‘We never comment on anything,’ says his rep Paul Bloch). But when Bing spoke with Art Torres, chairman of the California Democratic Party two days after the election, he was reportedly in good spirits. ‘He’s very enthusiastic and spirited. I didn’t notice one negative tone in his voice,’ ” Mr. Torres says.”

Longest-lived

Gerald R. Ford, who turned 93 in July, became the longest-living U.S. president yesterday, edging past Ronald Reagan, who died two years ago.

Mr. Ford, who was born July 14, 1913, in Omaha, Neb., has been alive for 93 years and 121 days, one day more than Mr. Reagan, who died in June 2004, Reuters news agency reported yesterday.

Mr. Ford, a former Michigan congressman and vice president, became president on Aug. 9, 1974, after Richard Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal.

The only president who was never elected, Mr. Ford remained in office until Jimmy Carter replaced him in January 1977 after losing the November 1976 election.

Mr. Ford and former first lady Betty Ford, 88, live in Rancho Mirage in the desert of Southern California.

“The length of one’s days matters less than the love of one’s family and friends,” Mr. Ford said in a statement in the local Desert Sun newspaper.

Mr. Ford has battled a series of illnesses this year. He has been hospitalized four times for tests, angioplasty surgery and treatments for shortness of breath and pneumonia.

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


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