Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Loyalty oafs. It hasn't gotten much attention -- the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and Long Island's Newsday all ran this AP story inside -- but Common Cause has issued a devastating report on influence-peddling within the Bush White House.

Titled "Prospecting for Access: How the Bush Pioneers Shaped Public Policy," the report meticulously documents favors granted to the so-called Pioneers -- Bush contributors who gave $100,000 or more in his 2000 campaign.

The press release is here (ignore the typo that says "2002"); the full report, in PDF format, is here.

The report takes the form of a Pioneer-by-Pioneer look at contributions made and goodies received.

To take a random example, consider James H. "Buck" Harless, the founder and chairman of International Industries, in Gilbert, West Virginia. Harless raised and contributed at least $355,000 for Bush's campaign, for the Florida-recount effort, and for the Bush-Cheney inauguration.

So what did old Buck get for his generosity? Here's what the report says:

The Bush administration retracted a campaign pledge to require power plants that use coal to sharply cut carbon dioxide emissions, rejected U.S. endorsement of an international agreement to curb global warming, weakened federal clean water regulations related to coal mining and proposed investing substantial federal dollars in "clean coal" technology.

The cost: "$2 billion over ten years in federal subsidies to encourage clean coal technology; degradation of air and water quality."

Of course, the White House might have been inclined to do these things anyway. But that makes Common Cause's findings no less repulsive.

Overall, the report is a litany of regulations loosened or abolished, Colombian pipelines protected at taxpayer expense, and secret meetings with Vice-President Dick Cheney held.

It should have gotten a lot more attention. Perhaps it will in the days ahead.

So, David, why do you think Zimmer apologized? No, Pedro Martinez certainly doesn't deserve a good-conduct medal for his disgraceful antics in Saturday's playoff game.

But he did not "grab a 72-year-old man by the head and toss him to the ground," which is New York Times columnist David Brooks's alternate-universe description of the Martinez-Don Zimmer confrontation.

Besides, doesn't Brooks realize that the New York Times Company is a part-owner of the Red Sox, and that its editorial page last week actually called for a Sox victory over the Yankees?

Brooks needs to get with the program.

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