Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy?

Posted September 30, 2005 at 6:50pm

It didn’t take House Republicans long after an indictment was handed down against Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) before they started spreading a rumor about Democratic coercion. The story went that Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle, who hinted just weeks earlier that he would not indict the Hammer, changed course after Democrats as far up the ladder as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) put the screws to him.

According to the rumormongers, former Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas) was part of the conspiracy to convince Earle to indict DeLay. Not so, insists Frost, a fellow this fall at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

[IMGCAP(1)]“The last time I spoke to Ronnie Earle was when we flew up to Washington together [from Texas] for President Carter’s inauguration in January 1977,” said Frost, who worked with Earle on the Carter campaign. “I have not seen or talked to Ronnie Earle since that time.”

Likewise, Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee denied charges from the DeLay camp that they were somehow involved. DNC spokesman Josh Earnest said, “I can categorically deny that anyone at the [DNC] talked to or contacted Ronnie Earle. It didn’t happen.”

A source in Earle’s office said his boss “doesn’t talk to people about ongoing investigations” and denied Earle had been pressured by any Democrats to seek a DeLay indictment.

But DeLay-ites aren’t one bit convinced that there isn’t a vast left-wing conspiracy to bury their man, and they’re not planning to sit idly by. As one DeLay aide put it, there’ll be an effort by “friends in Texas” to get a look at Earle’s phone and meeting logs. “This isn’t gonna go away,” the source said.

Angry Wife Attack. The House Republican Study Committee was so busy last week sabotaging Rep. David Dreier’s (R-Calif.) appointment to temporary Majority Leader that the group’s staffers apparently went home tired and delirious. So much so that the RSC’s deputy director, Paul Teller, forgot to tape his wife’s favorite show, the consequences of which scarred him so deeply that he sent out this panicky e-mail on the GOP e-mail listserv.

“OK, this may be one of the most embarrassing e-mails I’ve ever written, but here we go.

“My wife is a huge fan of ‘The OC.’ She set the VCR to tape last night’s show when she was out, but I did not replace the blank tape in the VCR after I watched something else. Thus, the OC did not record.

“Did anyone happen to record last night’s episode — or know anyone who did? Thanks to anyone who can help a husband avoid certain death … .”

The e-mail didn’t sit well with some moderate Republicans, who were not pleased with the RSC’s efforts to install Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), instead of Dreier, as temporary Majority Leader. One self-proclaimed “tree-hugging Republican” asked, “What is more appalling: the fact that the deputy director of the RSC is attempting to tape a show that the conservative Parents Television Council has called ‘reckless and irresponsible programming’ or that he doesn’t own a DVR?”

For his part, Teller told HOH that his conservative brethren are helping him get out of hot water with the wife. “The response has been astounding. After the initial success of Operation Offset, it’s good to see that Operation ‘OC’ can also get some media attention. Thankfully, many young conservatives stepped up to help me get out of the dog house.”

Bennett’s Blunder. Few people missed the opportunity to blast conservative commentator Bill Bennett over his inflammatory suggestion that the crime rate would drop if all black babies were aborted.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was making his way to a vote in the Capitol on Thursday when he was stopped by a group of visiting Democrats from his home state. They asked if he’d heard about Bennett’s comments. Kerry quipped, “Yeah, let’s just say it’s been a big week for surgery in Washington. They successfully operated on Dick Cheney’s knees but they still can’t remove Bill Bennett’s foot from his mouth.”

After White House spokesman Scott McClellan called Bennett’s remarks “not appropriate,” Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) had this to say: “Not appropriate is wearing white shoes after Labor Day. These comments were reprehensible and racist.”

Bennett has argued that his comments were taken out of context, but that has done little to quiet the furor.

Free Judy React. Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper was hosting a book party at his house Thursday evening when news broke that Judy Miller had been sprung from jail. And for at least an hour, it seemed, Cooper was about the only person in the well-heeled crowd of journalists, thinkers, lobbyists and politicians who had the slightest clue.

Washington Post op-ed columnist E.J. Dionne hadn’t heard about it when HOH showed up at the party close to 7:45 p.m. “Really? Oh my God,” he said. And he didn’t think anybody inside knew it either. Cooper, who had avoided having to join Judy in jail, did a good job keeping it to himself. He took his mobile phone to the patio out back to return a phone call to Associated Press reporter John Solomon. “So, is it true? What’ve you heard?” Cooper asked during the call. Then he called his lawyer and had a private chat.

Back inside his Georgetown home, none of the guests had heard. Not GOP lobbyist Juleanna Glover Weiss, not Nation writer David Corn, not even the intrepid workaholic Time magazine (formerly Washington Post) reporter Mike Allen, who, when he was told, pulled out his BlackBerry and began furiously sifting through news alerts. Nor did former CNN Chairman and CEO Walter Isaacson know what was up. “I’m always the last to know,” sighed the native New Orleanian with a demure smile. “I just found out.”

Cooper’s wife, the Democratic operative Mandy Grunwald, said their phone started “ringing off the hook” with the hot news early in the party. But rather than start screaming “Judy’s free! Free at last!” she chose not to interrupt their guest author, Charlie Peters, in the midst of a discussion of his new book, “Five Days in Philadelphia,” about the 1940 GOP convention, Wendell Willkie and FDR.

But once everybody found out that Miller had agreed to cooperate with the federal grand jury probe investigating the Valerie Plame leak, that was all the buzz. Everyone seemed to agree with the assessment of one person at the party who said, “Looks like Judy decided to take yes for answer. I guess she’s had enough fun.”

John Bresnahan contributed to this report.

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