- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2007

McCain’s pledge

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain told voters yesterday that if he becomes commander in chief he will brief the public biweekly from the Oval Office on developments in the Iraq war.

“I would tell them exactly what the battlefield scenario is,” Mr. McCain told about 450 people packed into a VFW post in Murrells Inlet, S.C., a town south of Myrtle Beach.

The Arizona senator emphasized that he wasn’t guaranteeing victory in Iraq, the Associated Press reports.

“Am I telling you we’re going to succeed? No. But I’m telling you I think we’ve got a good chance of succeeding,” he said.

Mr. McCain decried the idea of a timeline for U.S. withdrawal from the country, saying it would spawn chaos, and committed to a long-term fight on terrorism. “We’re going to win. We will. We will never surrender,” Mr. McCain said.

When asked by an audience member whether he’d do a better job than President Bush in communicating regularly with the public, Mr. McCain said he would give updates about the war on national television every two weeks, a map of Iraq at the ready.

Hill showcase

It might soon be Earth Day every day at the U.S. Capitol.

Daniel P. Beard, the House chief administrative officer, tells Democratic leaders the Capitol and House office buildings “should be a showcase for sustainability” and said lawmakers pushing green practices “provide leadership by example,” The Washington Times’ blog Fishwrap reported yesterday.

“Environmental responsibility is our duty to future generations. Now is the appropriate time to act to reduce our energy consumption as well as our energy dependence,” Mr. Beard writes in a report outlining efforts to “Green the Capitol.” The Washington Times obtained a portion of the forthcoming report.

“Congress should set the highest standards for environmental stewardship and sustainable energy use,” he said. “To accomplish this, we will need to change the way we do business.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and two top Democrats had asked Mr. Beard last month to embark on a greening initiative, saying then, “The Capitol complex should lead the nation in preserving our planet for future generations.”

“As a result of your directive, I have undertaken a review of the House operating procedures with respect to energy conservation, sustainability and related matters,” Mr. Beard said.

The Democrats will release Mr. Beard’s full report outlining preliminary recommendations at an event at 1:30 p.m. today. His final report will be released June 30.

Ellison’s advice

Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat and the first Muslim elected to Congress, is calling on Jewish groups “to engage with a controversial American Muslim body,” the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported yesterday.

In a speech Tuesday night at the Reform Movement’s Consultation on Conscience conference in Washington, Mr. Ellison said Jews should be working with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“If CAIR is willing to talk, talk to CAIR,” Mr. Ellison said.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency said that CAIR “is among the harshest critics of Israel, and in the 1990s defended Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization. It has muted such support since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, but still will not condemn Palestinian terrorist attacks as it does attacks by al Qaeda.”

It was the first speech to a national Jewish group for Mr. Ellison, who said he does not share all of CAIR’s views.

Challenging Gore

Steve Hayward is no Al Gore,” Fred Barnes writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“The former vice president’s film about global warming, ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ delighted environmentalists and won an Academy Award. Hayward’s rebuttal of Gore’s warning about a coming climate catastrophe won’t thrill either the environmental crowd or Hollywood’s liberal elite. And you won’t find his film, ‘An Inconvenient Truth or Convenient Fiction,’ in 600 movie theaters either, as Gore’s was last summer. To see Hayward’s 50-minute film, your best bet is to go to the Web site, aconvenientfiction.com. It is well worth watching, maybe more than once,” Mr. Barnes said.

“Hayward, as a global warming skeptic, has an advantage over Gore. Unlike Gore, he is calm and reasonable, avoids hyperbole, and sticks to the facts, some of which are confusing or contradictory. The result is that he is closer to what he calls ‘the general consensus’ among scientists about global warming than Gore is.

“It’s important to note that Hayward, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is not a global warming denier. ‘Much of what Vice President Gore says about climate change is correct,’ Hayward says in the film. ‘The planet is warming. Human beings are playing a substantial role in that warming.’ Beyond that, however, he disagrees sharply with Gore.

” ‘The problem with Vice President Gore and other global warming extremists is that they distort the science, grossly exaggerate the risks, argue that anyone who disagrees with them is corrupt, and suggest that solutions are easy and cheap,’ Hayward says. ‘And that’s an all too convenient fiction.’ ”

Congressman’s home searched

A California congressman and his wife are the latest focus in an influence-peddling investigation by the Justice Department in connection with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

On Friday, the FBI searched the Virginia home of Rep. John T. Doolittle, California Republican, on the same day Mr. Doolittle’s former chief of staff, Kevin Ring, quit his job as a lobbyist at an Indianapolis law firm, Barnes & Thornburg LLP. Mr. Ring also had worked for Abramoff, who reported to a federal prison in November to begin a six-year prison sentence for conspiracy and fraud.

Mr. Doolittle purportedly held fundraisers in Abramoff’s private skyboxes at MCI Center in Washington and at Camden Yards in Baltimore that were financed by the former lobbyist’s casino-operating tribal clients, but did not report the in-kind contributions to the Federal Exchange Commission.

The congressman’s spokeswoman, Laura Blackann, has said Mr. Doolittle used the MCI Center box only once and has described the reporting failure as an “oversight.”

Mr. Doolittle wrote several letters to Interior Department Secretary Gale A. Norton supporting two American Indian tribes. Both tribes contracted with Abramoff’s firm, Greenberg Traurig, that year and neither tribe appears tied to Mr. Doolittle’s congressional district. Mr. Doolittle received $50,000 from Abramoff and his clients, including $4,000 from Abramoff directly.

In 2000, while working with Abramoff, Mr. Ring discussed with Abramoff the possibility of getting a job for Mr. Doolittle’s wife, according to an e-mail released by the Democratic staff of the Senate Finance Committee.

Julie Doolittle later went to work on retainer for Abramoff doing event planning.

The FBI raid at the Doolittle house, first reported by the Hill newspaper, included a search warrant for materials related to Mrs. Doolittle’s company, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected] com.

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