- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2006

Promises, promises

Two weeks before Election Day, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada issued a statement promising Montana Senate candidate Jon Tester a seat on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee if he could defeat Republican incumbent Conrad Burns.

Such a win was crucial, Mr. Reid knew, if Democrats were to retake control of Congress. And while Mr. Reid didn’t say exactly when Mr. Tester would be seated in the coveted chair, his pledge assured Montana’s voters that the state wouldn’t lose out on much-needed funding by rejecting Mr. Burns, who during his dozen years on the Appropriations Committee delivered hundreds of millions of dollars to the state.

“This is big news,” boasted Montana Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat, who read Mr. Reid’s promise at a press conference in Billings, Mont. “This is going to help Montana even more.”

Republicans who were quoted in the Billings Gazette the next day weren’t buying Mr. Reid’s promise. The newspaper even quoted Mr. Reid’s spokesman, Jim Manley, as conceding that it would be “somewhat unusual” for a freshman senator to sit on such a lofty panel.

As it was, Mr. Tester won a very close race. And yesterday, Mr. Reid announced his committee assignments for the upcoming 110th Congress. Wouldn’t you know, Mr. Tester didn’t make the cut.

The Appropriations Committee will be chaired by Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, who will be joined by Democrats Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Patty Murray of Washington, Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, Dianne Feinstein of California, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Moving on from Reid

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has lost his chief counsel, Kevin Kayes, to Quinn Gillespie & Associates, the government-relations firm formed six years ago by Jack Quinn, White House Counsel to President Clinton, and Ed Gillespie, former Republican National Committee chairman.

“We started this firm when Democrats were in the White House and Republicans controlled Congress,” Mr. Gillespie notes. “Today, we still have a divided government, and Kevin will reinforce our ability to be effective on both sides of the political aisle.”

To the dungeon

“After a few fun minutes in the cold, we [reporters] were hustled into the terminal building by a retinue of stone-eyed Russian security personnel” — or so reads the White House pool report, filed yesterday by Yochi J. Dreazen of the Wall Street Journal upon President Bush’s arrival in Moscow.

“A security guard told us there was a special room awaiting us, which sent a chill down our collective spine.”

Stand up, Scout

Washington malpractice lawyer Jack H. Olender was intrigued by an article in The Washington Times this week about the “Top 101 Influential Fictional Characters.”

“In the city of lawyers — Washington, D.C. — it is appropriate that we have a list of the top influential fictional lawyers,” he notes.

Without further ado, Mr. Olender’s “Top 12”:

1. Perry Mason (Raymond Burr), “Perry Mason”

2. Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck), “To Kill a Mockingbird”

3. Ben Matlock (Andy Griffith), “Matlock”

4. Professor Charles Kingsfield (John Houseman), “Paper Chase”

5. Frank Galvin (Paul Newman), “The Verdict”

6. Horace Rumpole (Leo McKern), “Rumpole of the Bailey”

7. Claire Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad), “The Cosby Show”

8. Denny Crane (William Shatner), “Boston Legal”

9. Vincent “Vinny” Gambini (Joe Pesci), “My Cousin Vinny”

10. Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart) “Ally McBeal”

11. McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney & Kuzak, “L.A. Law”

12. Dan Fielding (John Laroquette), “Night Court”

“Perry Mason probably inspired more young people to go into law than any other fictional or real lawyer,” Mr. Olender says. “Atticus Finch continues to this day to inspire lawyers to take on an unpopular cause and defend the accused, without hope of even collecting a fee.

“Who can ever forget the minister instructing Scout, ‘Stand up, your father is passing by,’ as Atticus (Gregory Peck) walks out of the courtroom?”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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