- The Washington Times - Friday, July 13, 2007

Drafting Gore

A Draft Al Gore group yesterday delivered the former vice president more than 100,000 signatures on a petition urging him to run for president.

Draft Gore organizers brought the list of Gore fans to the Democrat’s office in Nashville, Tenn., and called the petition a “major milestone.”

“This enormous outpouring of support for Al Gore is testimony both to his enduring appeal among the grass roots and to the dissatisfaction of the Democratic base with the current crop of declared candidates,” said Monica Friedlander, chairman of the draft effort, which has been active here and in New Hampshire, New York, Iowa and California.

The group also is running radio ads to persuade Mr. Gore to jump in the race.

Some of the petitioners added comments lauding Mr. Gore. Here’s a sampling:

c ”I am a lifelong Republican and in 2000 I foolishly voted for President Bush. I was wrong. I am older and wiser now. I wish to offer my support and help in my very GOP state of Wyoming.” — Philip Hritzak, Casper, Wyo.

c ”Mr. Gore, my son is going into Iraq today. Please run and bring some reason to this world. He is in the 3rd ID. Please help!” — Sharon Pote, Booneville, Ark.

c ”There’s no higher calling, than when a nation asks for you to lead. We are asking you to lead now, and I hope you’ll rise to it.” — Jarrett Wold, Minot, N.D.

Even Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, who lost to President Bush in 2004, seems to be a Gore fan. He called Mr. Gore a “great leader” on the environment in a recent interview with reporter Christina Bellantoni of The Washington Times.

“I’ve learned never to urge anybody … people have to make up their own minds,” Mr. Kerry said when asked if Mr. Gore should run in 2008. “He’d clearly be a very credible candidate if he decided to do it. He won once; he just didn’t get inaugurated.”

En espanol?

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson yesterday said his use of a Spanish word that some say is a slur against homosexuals was meant to be playful but apologized to anyone who was offended. With critics revisiting the statement he made on a radio program a year ago, Mr. Richardson questioned the timing of their comments.

“My record is the strongest among the presidential candidates on gay rights issues and I’m puzzled by the timing of this. When it happened a year ago, nobody seemed to think it was terribly important. Now it surfaces,” he told the Associated Press in an interview. “It’s probably a sign from other campaigns that they are little worried about me.”

Mr. Richardson was a guest on Don Imus‘ radio program on March 29, 2006. Mr. Imus jokingly said one of his staffers suggested Mr. Richardson was “not really Hispanic.” Mr. Richardson replied in Spanish that if the staffer believes that, then he is a “maricon.” The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation says the Spanish word is similar in tone to “faggot” in English.

In a statement this week, Mr. Richardson said that in the Spanish he grew up speaking, “the term means simply ‘gay,’ not positive or negative.” He told the AP yesterday: “It was a playful exchange between me and Don Imus that was not intended to mean anything, but if I offended anybody, I apologize.”

Fat target

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says obese filmmaker Michael Moore is a big-screen example of why health care is so expensive.

The former Arkansas governor told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that he hasn’t seen and probably won’t see Mr. Moore’s documentary “Sicko,” which calls for an overhaul of America’s health care system.

“Frankly, Michael Moore is an example of why the health care system costs so much in this country. He clearly is one of the reasons that we have a very expensive system. I know that from my own personal experience,” said Mr. Huckabee, who lost more than 110 pounds and became an avid runner after he was diagnosed with diabetes.

“I know how much more my health care cost when I didn’t take care of myself than when I do take care of myself, not only in terms of doctor visits but regular diseases, illnesses, chronic things that come up, monthly prescription bills,” Mr. Huckabee said.

Mr. Huckabee also singled out Mr. Moore for flying to Cuba in March for the documentary to obtain health care for a group of ailing September 11 rescue workers, the Associated Press reports.

“Let me ask you, have you ever met anybody when they were really sick say, ‘Oh my gosh, I have a desperate disease. Get me to Havana; I’ve got to have the best health care in the world,’ ” he said.

Sheehan banned

Cindy Sheehan said yesterday she has been banned from posting at the liberal blog DailyKos.com.

“I can’t post here anymore because my potential run for Congress is not on the Democratic ticket,” said Mrs. Sheehan, the antiwar activist who has announced plans for a third-party run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

“If Speaker Pelosi does her constitutionally mandated duty and I don’t run, then I can come back and post,” Mrs. Sheehan wrote in a farewell post at DailyKos yesterday.

Meanwhile, Sen Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, is making plans to attend YearlyKos, the annual convention of liberal “netroots” activists.

Mrs. Clinton’s Internet director, Peter Daou, wrote at DailyKos that “I’m happy to say that she’ll be there. I’m looking forward to being there as well — last year’s was great and I’m sure this time around it’ll be even better.”

Prayer protesters

A Hindu priest made history yesterday by offering the U.S. Senate’s morning prayer, but only after police officers removed three shouting protesters from the visitors’ gallery.

Rajan Zed, director of interfaith relations at a Hindu temple in Reno, Nev., gave the brief prayer that opens each day’s Senate session. As he stood at the chamber’s podium in a bright orange and burgundy robe, two women and a man began shouting “this is an abomination” and other complaints from the gallery.

Police officers quickly arrested them and charged them with disrupting Congress, a misdemeanor. The male protester told an Associated Press reporter, “We are Christians and patriots” before police handcuffed them and led them away.

For several days, the Mississippi-based American Family Association has urged its members to object to the prayer because Mr. Zed would be “seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god.”

Mr. Zed, the first Hindu to offer the Senate prayer, began: “We meditate on the transcendental glory of the Deity Supreme, who is inside the heart of the Earth, inside the life of the sky and inside the soul of the heaven. May He stimulate and illuminate our minds.”

Good one

On yesterday’s “Good Morning America,” co-host Diane Sawyer revealed how she was once excused from jury duty, the Media Research Center reports at www.mrc.org.

“The judge said to me, ‘Can, you know, can you tell the truth and be fair?’ And I said, ‘That’s what journalists do.’ And everybody in the courtroom laughed. It was the most hurtful moment I think I’ve ever had.”

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

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