It was probably
humbling enough for Duncan Hunter to be reminded during an
MSNBC interview last week that a Newsweek poll puts the
Alpine congressman at the bottom of the GOP presidential
pack, with “zero” percent support among American voters.
To be entirely fair,
the former House Armed Services chairman didn't really get
zero support in the poll of 324 registered Republicans and
Republican-leaning voters. The poll gave Hunter an
asterisk in the column indicating what percentage of
respondents would like to see him nominated as the next
Republican candidate for the White House. The asterisk
indicates support of less than half a percentage point.
And Hunter wasn't alone. Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore,
who recently dropped out of the race, got the same
Oh man, but then MSNBC had to go and twist the knife.
Up on the screen popped a chart with the candidates' names
and pictures. Hunter's name was there all right, right
next to a picture of – Lord knows who. We only know that
it wasn't the congressman.
CLOSE TO HOME
One supposes Hillary Rodham Clinton must tread lightly
during her presidential campaign when it comes to the
issue of martial infidelity – whether it's the infidelity
that led to husband Bill's impeachment or anyone else's
for that matter.
The whole messy topic was shoved in the New York
senator's face last week as she accepted the endorsement
of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
The women, both Democrats, spoke with reporters during
a conference phone call and discussed their mutual work in
the Senate, their mutual admiration for each other, their
mutual desire to see the country on a better track. In
other words, the phone call had all the elements one
expects from these intensely orchestrated announcements.
But then came this unexpected question from one
reporter: What did Clinton think of the “personal
morality” issues surrounding another of her prominent
California supporters: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio
Villaraigosa. The married mayor recently confirmed an
affair with Telemundo reporter Mirthala Salinas. His
marriage is now seriously on the rocks.
Before Clinton could respond, Feinstein pounced on the
reporter with a tone of maternal scolding.
“I'm surprised at you for that question,” the senator
said. “My goodness. She's running for president of the
United States. She doesn't need to get into this.” But
when the reporter persisted, Clinton stepped in with the
sort of elusive reply so perfected by politicians of her
“I . . . am well aware that he is the mayor of our
second largest city,” Clinton said. “I think his work on
behalf of the many issues that I care about is very
significant. So I will continue to welcome his support and
look for ways that I can learn about what's going on in
From the perspective of some, Thursday's Senate hearing
on California's plea for a federal waiver to enforce its
own vehicle emissions standards made it mighty clear how
the EPA plans to rule on the matter.
In testimony before California Sen. Barbara Boxer's
Environment & Public Works Committee, EPA Administrator
Stephen Johnson used the majority of his testimony to
explain that his agency “is working to develop a proposed
rule for the federal regulation of emissions of greenhouse
gases from new motor vehicles” – one he expects to unveil
at the end of 2008.
Johnson's agency must decide whether to give California
a waiver so it can enforce a law that would cut greenhouse
gas emissions by about 25 percent from cars and 18 percent
from sport utility vehicles starting in 2009. Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger threatens to sue the EPA if it does not
rule on the waiver by Oct. 1, but Johnson has said he will
make a decision by year's end.
“EPA appears to be telegraphing that it will deny
California's request on the basis that it is developing
national standards,” said Frank O'Donnell, executive
director of Clean Air Watch. “A shameless political move.”
Dana Wilkie is a
Washington-based correspondent for Copley News Service and
a longtime observer of California politics and social