UPI's Capital Comment for March 10, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 10 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- Daily news notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

Delta swamp?


Mitchell Tyner, a trial lawyer from Jackson, Miss., says Republicans in his state "deserve an opportunity to vote for a candidate who has lived and worked in the state all his life." Tyner, who threw his hat into the gubernatorial ring at the last minute, says, "I didn't come home to run for the office of the governor of Mississippi, I am at home."

The outsider emphasis is directed at former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour, the front-runner for the GOP nomination, who hails from Yazoo City, Miss. He is also a major Washington powerbroker and heads one of the capital's most influential public affairs firms.


If Tyner makes an issue out of Barbour's Washington ties -- in a state George W. Bush won in 2000 with 58 percent of the vote -- he may discover he has some explaining of his own to do. News reports from Mississippi indicate Tyner has been a somewhat generous, if small time, contributor to candidates from the other party. In 1999, he donated $250 to South Carolina Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, a Democrat, and $1,000 to Democrat Ronnie Musgrove, who, as Mississippi's current governor, is the man who has the job Tyner says he wants.

News accounts also have Tyner contributing to the campaigns of Democrats seeking to unseat Mississippi Republican U.S. Reps. Chip Pickering and Roger Wicker as well as to the national party committees. The donations were all in small amounts but no corresponding contributions to Republicans could be identified by the Sun-Herald newspaper, an arguably odd history for someone who identifies himself as a longtime Republican.

Bitten by the bug...

You often hear about politicians being bitten by the acting bug but, until recently, the reverse was more often the exception rather than the rule. That all may be changing, with Hollywood and Washington intersecting with much greater frequency.


The latest rumor is that veteran character actor Jerry Doyle, probably best known in the role of Michael Garibaldi on the television sci-fi series "Babylon 5," may be gearing up for a bid for Congress. Doyle is said to be testing the waters for a run as a Republican in Florida's 16th Congressional District if the incumbent, as expected, does not seek re-election.

Travel log...

Columnist and social critic Arianna Huffington is logging a lot of miles on the promotional tour for her new book, "Pigs at the Trough." The book, an attack on the structure of corporate America, is No. 10 on The New York Times list of best-selling non-fiction hardbacks. Huffington, former wife of former Republican U.S. Rep. Michael Huffington, is engaged in an ongoing slog through college campuses including Duke University in North Carolina, the Ivy League's Harvard, Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth and Yale, and the University of Southern California.

She says the tour is generally going quite well -- though some say her appearance Wednesday at West Virginia University may prove a bit dicey.

West Virginia is coal country. Huffington's anti-SUV efforts of recent months -- which in the minds of many is linked to the anti-global warming environmentalist movement -- may not be received very well by those who depend on coal for their livelihood.


"F" as in freedom...

With anti-France sentiment growing around the United States as a result of what many Americans view as its pro-Saddam Hussein obstructionism at the United Nations, North Carolina Republican U.S. Rep. Walter Jones has taken a page from one of his constituents and is now calling on the Capitol Hill food service to change the name of their tasty shoestring potatoes to Freedom Fries.

Jones got the idea from constituent Neal Rowland, owner of the popular Cubbie's restaurant in Beaufort, N.C., which changed its menu "in a patriotic show of support for our men and women in uniform." Jones, who calls Rowland "a great American and a real patriot," is circulating a letter to the director of food services, Beth Stankewich, asking that its facilities in the Rayburn, Cannon and Longworth House Office Buildings follow the Cubbie's example and remove the word French from the menu wherever it appears -- giving diners the option to order up "Freedom Fries," "Freedom Toast," or "Ham and Cheese on Freedom Bread."

Ad-dressing an important issue...

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of America's larger Muslim organizations, is waging war on "religiously motivated terrorism" through a national ad campaign intended to "foster greater understanding of Islam" in light of "a rising tide of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the United States."


In the newest ad, CAIR says, "American Muslims condemn all acts of terrorism and we are as outraged as our fellow Americans by atrocities committed in the name of God and our religion."

"We often hear that Muslims have not condemned terrorism enough since the 9/11 attacks. This advertisement is designed to address that issue and show clearly Islam's and the American Muslim community's strong opposition to acts of violence against civilians, whether they are committed by individuals, groups or states," CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said.

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