WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- News notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.
Hair Club Hall of Fame -- Sy Sperling -- whose commercial tag line "I'm also a member" has been lampooned in the popular culture -- has announced the names of the 2001 inductees into the Hair Club Hall of Fame "for men with great heads of hair."
Among those making the list: former President Ronald Reagan -- "his wonderful head of hair gave him the confidence to project himself in a more positive way" -- and singing sensation Ricky Martin, who performed at President George W. Bush's inaugural celebration.
Nomination follies -- Vermont's Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pulled no punches in responding to Chief Justice William Rehnquist's year-end report on the state of the federal judiciary.
Citing his own senatorial analysis of the confirmation rate, something that Republicans have aggressively disputed, Leahy said, "When the Senate reconvenes, we will continue to seek consensus and to move forward to fill remaining vacancies. The vacancy rate had risen past the 100 mark under our Republican predecessors, through their refusal to vote on so many of President Clinton's nominees. We have finally begun moving those numbers in the right direction."
And then, in what is clearly a warning to President Bush, he added, "The president can help by choosing more nominees primarily for their fairness and their abilities instead of for their ideology."
Put that in your pipe and smoke it -- Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher, the front-runner for this year's GOP gubernatorial nomination, announced Monday that Pennsylvania is scheduled to receive its sixth major payment resulting from the state's settlement with the tobacco industry.
The next installment, valued at more than $111.7 million, is part of a total $11 billion settlement
"These funds will improve health care services for millions of Pennsylvanians,'' Fisher said. He is one of eight Attorneys General who negotiated the national $206 billion tobacco settlement. "In addition to funding health care initiatives, the settlement also prohibits the tobacco industry from targeting our children with its advertisements. This is designed to improve the health of Pennsylvanians for generations to come.''
Always good for a laugh -- The New York press is reporting that cable network HBO is trying to get former President Bill Clinton to make an appearance at this year's Aspen Comedy Festival.
The festival, known as one of the high points for American humor, includes academic discussions as well as stand-up acts. According to reports, the cable giant wants Clinton to participate on a panel discussion on freedom of speech, which is also the theme of this year's gathering. Former Clinton press spokesman Joe Lockhart is already on the program.
Political of personal destruction -- If former RNC Research head Barbara Comstock expected her transition to her new job -- head of Public Affairs at the Justice Department -- would be quiet and easy, she was mistaken.
Take this bit from the closing moments of CNN's Crossfire last week. Substitute left-side host Paul Begala announced her job change, saying "The Bush Justice Department announced last week that Barbara Comstock will be its new Director of Public Affairs ... Now Ms. Comstock has no experience in terrorism, no experience in law enforcement, but lots of experience in political mud slinging."
For the record, Ms. Comstock is an attorney with years of experience in the political fencing that goes on between the White House and congressional committees, having served the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee as chief counsel as well as in several other senior posts. And having served in those posts during the Clinton years, she probably knows more about terror then Begala might like to acknowledge.
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