Law & Outrage

Posted May 27, 2005 at 5:39pm

The fallout from NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” episode featuring the Tom DeLay T-shirt continues over the Memorial Day break. House Republican message makers, back in their districts and vacation destinations, are armed with talking points on what to say about the episode that so riled their fearless Majority Leader. The hit list includes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

The Texas Republican fired off an angry letter last week to NBC Universal Television Chief Jeff Zucker charging the network with “manipulation” of his name and “trivialization of the sensitive issue of judicial security” after a cop on the show who was searching for the killer of a federal judge said, “Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt.” (The reference, of

course, was to DeLay’s criticism of federal judges during and after the Terri Shiavo debate.)

House GOP Conference Vice Chairman Jack Kingston (Ga.) has been out on the TV circuit blaring outrage. Kingston instructed Members who serve on the House GOP message team to “repeat that this was a PERSONAL swipe at Tom DeLay during sweeps week.” In a memo to his message folks, Kingston gave four talking points, telling Members to stay on message that “L&O” finished “dead last” in sweeps week, is biased and liberal, and, in what he called “outrageous and over-the-top,” associated DeLay with a “racist, anti-semitic judge killer.”

Then he suggested some “zingers” for GOP Members to use on the subject. Criticize NBC’s Katie Couric for one. And secondly and most importantly, he said, “Turn the tables for a minute: You never see TV shows depicting a 15-year-old teenage girl driving across the state border to get an abortion with a Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton T-shirt on.”

Pelosi’s office had no comment. Clinton’s office responded by sending HOH a statement from Clinton family lawyer David Kendall on the acquittal of Clinton’s former fund-raiser, David Rosen. “We have said from the beginning that, when all the evidence is in, David would be vindicated. That has come to pass, and Senator Clinton is very happy for David and his family.”

Now that’s staying on message!

Grover Norquist vs. John McCain, Con’t.

Like a lot of other conservative activists, Grover Norquist was very, very unhappy with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) over his role in last week’s “Gang of 14” agreement that ended the threat of a Senate floor fight over judicial nominations, at least for now.

Norquist, speaking as president of Americans for Tax Reform, blasted McCain in a May 25 press release, claiming that the Arizona Republican had ended his chances of becoming the next president of the United States due to his efforts in arranging the truce.

“When McCain brokered the deal to betray his Republican colleagues by negotiating a private surrender to the Democrats, he publicly declared he has no interest in the Presidency,” Norquist said in his statement. “No Republican could expect to win the G.O.P. nod after betraying his party’s rank-and-file on one of their most central concerns.”

But Norquist, who recently told The New York Times that “McCain hates me,” left one little fact out of his statement — that McCain, as chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, happens to be investigating Norquist’s dealings with former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Norquist’s ATR has been involved in a months-long battle with the Indian Affairs Committee over whether it will turn over donor records to the panel; so far, ATR has refused.

According to Norquist’s own public statement, ATR acted as a conduit for hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from the Mississippi Choctaw Tribe, a key Abramoff client with a big casino operation. ATR steered the money to Ralph Reed, the former Christian Coalition executive director now running for lieutenant governor of Georgia. Reed, in turn, funneled those funds to Christian anti-gambling groups in Alabama and other states. McCain plans an Indian Affairs hearing for mid to late June to explore the financial transactions between the Choctaws, ATR and Reed.

Chris Butler, an ATR spokesman, said it’s not his organization’s responsibility to “update people on the affairs of the Indian Affairs Committee” in the their press releases. Butler added: “If you’ll notice, we began taking shots at McCain more than four years ago,” when McCain was running against then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush for the Oval Office.

HOH predicts that more pleasantries are certain to follow.

Lott’s Idol.

Sen. Trent Lott knows the value of a vote. So when it came to choosing the next American Idol, the Mississippi Republican told HOH he voted nine times over the course of the competition for Carrie Underwood.

“She was a better singer,” Lott said on Thursday, less than 24 hours after the Oklahoman captured the title. “She was beautiful and I thought she deserved to win.”

As for Bo Bice, the runner-up in Fox’s smash hit singing competition, Lott, who isn’t shy about his own singing abilities, grimaced at the choice of the Alabaman’s music genre. “I liked Bo, but I am not a headbanger,” said Lott, a crooner and former cheerleader. “I don’t go for Lynyrd Skynyrd and all that kind of stuff.”

HOH was puzzled as to why Lott would diss Skynyrd, the seminal Southern rock band that evokes whoops and hollers from good ol’ boys and girls everywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line. “I like Alabama better than Lynyrd Skynyrd,” Lott said as he turned on his heels and sauntered into Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn.) office for a meeting.

Then he stopped in Frist’s reception area and pointed at the pretty receptionists. “I bet these girls don’t even know Lynyrd Skynyrd. Do you know who Lynyrd Skynyrd is?” When informed that HOH indeed was once a fan, the Mississippi Senator smiled, “Get down!”

Mark Preston and John Bresnahan contributed to this report.

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