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THE RAEL WORLD! Are you sure the Raelies are wrong? Then try to explain David Broder:


THE RAEL WORLD: On this morning’s Fox & Friends, the pundits mocked Raelian beliefs. We thought the “friends” protested too much. After all, who has watched our press corps in action without wondering if some alien scientist hadn’t at least concocted this crew? We’ve often said it: They simply aren’t human. When the “friends” make merry as they did this morning, we suspect that the cover-up may be on.

Yes, it’s always depressing to return to the mines after a week of normal living. Were our pundits invented? Were they captured by pods? We express no ultimate view. But we’ll slowly return to our daunting task in the days that lie ahead. Today, we return to a comical moment from the December 22 Meet the Press.

YOUR LIBERAL PRESS CORPS IN ACTION: We couldn’t help chuckling when we watched David Broder on the 12/22 Meet the Press. Tim Russert was limning the newly-resolved Trent Lott brouhaha. “David Broder,” Russert asked, “as you look at these last two weeks, were there any groups that did not acquit themselves well?” Try to catch The Dean’s “liberal bias” as he answers Russert’s question:

BRODER: I think there are two losers, Tim. I think the Democrats lost ground, in part. Former Senator Al Simpson from Wyoming said to me, “They have defanged Daschle now.” Daschle can go stand up there and point his finger and talk about those rotten evil Republicans, and people are going to see Bill Frist standing across the aisle from him, who doesn’t look rotten or evil.

The other reason I think the Democrats are losers is that when they had a moral issue in front of them with President Clinton, they denounced him, but they never acted against him. Indeed, they rallied around him. And I think that contrast is one that people will remember.

Amazing, isn’t it? A Republican Senate Majority Leader says the dumbest thing in history. It churns up old reports about this Republican’s association with extreme racial groups. And who turns out to be the big loser? According to Broder, the big loser is a Democrat, Tom Daschle—and Broder samples Republican Alan Simpson as he expresses his judgment.

Broder’s statement was so odd it really deserves some attention.

First, note the perfect expression of recent GOP spin—Tom Daschle is nasty and negative. In the Lott episode, of course, Daschle was hammered hard by Dems because he didn’t criticize Lott. But no matter. To Broder, Frist’s election will “defang” the vile Dem. Daschle can no longer say that Repubs are “rotten or evil.” This, of course, is the perfect expression of a two-year campaign by Rush Limbaugh.

Second, note how it always comes back to Bill Clinton. To Broder, what’s the most significant thing about the Lott flap? It’s the fact that Democrats didn’t remove Clinton from office! Let’s face it: To a generation of Washington “newsmen,” the fact that Bill got oral sex will color every subsequent action on earth. Meanwhile, is changing your Senate Majority Leader the same thing as removing a president from officer altogether? To Broder, it apparently is.

Third, the citation of Simpson really gave us a smile. In Campaign 2000, few Repubs were more nasty and negative than Simpson, the Wyoming Republican with the folksy ways and the adversarial relationship with the truth. During the campaign, Simpson hammered Al Gore really gave us Willie Horton so hard that even Chris Matthews finally told him to stop (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/24/00.) In other settings, he relentlessly pushed an ugly, discredited old canard—the claim that Gore sold his vote about the Gulf War for a few extra minutes on television. Meanwhile, his performance on the December 2, 1999 Hardball set new standards for bald-faced dissembling. In fact, Simpson’s outing this day was so comically dishonest that—in the wake of Broder’s statement—it really deserves a bit of review. We’ll present that HOWLER HISTORY below.

But take a moment to marvel at Broder. Who didn’t acquit himself well in the Lott matter? Of course—Tom Daschle didn’t! And Broder knows that Daschle’s the loser because Alan Simpson told him. We couldn’t help chuckling as Broder spoke—as he expressed his hard “liberal bias.” Are you really sure the Raelies are wrong when you see The Dean function so strangely?

THEY TOO FAILED: Broder wasn’t finished, of course. Someone else had fumbled:

BRODER (continuing directly): Frankly, also, I think many of us in the news media also did not acquit ourselves terribly well. Took a long time for this story to develop. Many reporters at the event did not write about it in the first instance. And secondly, because we allowed anonymous sources from the administration to use us to take down Senator Lott.
Everyone was wrong—except for Republicans! Readers, are you really ready to snicker and laugh at the odd things Raelians tell us?

HOWLER HISTORY: What was hot on 12/2/99, when Alan Simpson appeared on Hardball? One day earlier, Ceci Connolly’s “misquotation” of Gore had touched off the maddening Love Canal flap. On Hardball, Simpson knew what to do; he pretended that Gore had dissembled when he told a classroom of Concord High students that he had led the first congressional hearings into Love Canal. In Washington, everyone knew that Gore’s statement was true—but Simpson wanted voters to think something different. “It makes no sense,” he told Chris Matthews. “It’s like it—it’s fantasyland. I was on the Environment and Public Works Committee,” he continued. “I came along, and we did the Clean Air Act and the Superfund, and I don’t remember Al ever, you know, doing any heavy lifting. I—he wasn’t lifting timbers.” I came along, and we did the Superfund? Simpson made it sound like he had been the Superfund heavy lifter—and like Gore had been Missing In Action.

The reality? Speaking of fantasyland, Simpson’s powers of recollection were strangely affected this night. What were Simpson and Gore’s actual roles in the Superfund legislation? In October 1980, Simpson appeared on a Who’s Who List of Superfund Opponents released by Congress Watch, a Nader org. That’s right—Simpson opposed the Superfund on that Environment and Public Works Committee, the only committee member who did. “It gives me the creeps,” he told the Washington Post on the day of the vote. He was also one of the biggest recipients of campaign contributions from the chemical industry groups which were fighting the Superfund legislation. Meanwhile, what was Gore’s role in the matter? In his bio of Gore for the conservative publisher Regnery, Bob Zelnick discussed the matter in detail:

ZELNICK: Gore was also the prime mover behind the so-called “Superfund,” a trust fund administered by the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the most urgent toxic waste problems...Gore’s committee held fifteen hearings on the problem, rallying public support for action with such high visibility cases as the disposal of chemical pollutants near New York State’s Love Canal.
In other words, Simpson baldly dissembled about this matter on Hardball, as he often did when attacking Gore’s character. But this was wholly routine on Hardball, where fellow panelists quickly echoed Simpson’s statements. Matthews continued pretending that Gore was the one who was weirdly making things up. “Well, you don’t know the beauty of digital movie making,” he said in response to Simpson’s statement. “You can now take a guy like [Gore] and make him Forrest Gump and put him in that scene with you.” Former Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich was also present—did he correct the factual record? That would have meant challenging Simpson, who now was Reich’s partner in broadcasting ventures. And Reich, of course, had just endorsed Bill Bradley, a fact he didn’t mention. At any rate, Reich produced a vintage Hardball moment. “I don’t know why [Gore] feels that he has to exaggerate and make some of this stuff up,” he said, in support of Simpson’s overt misstatements. Did Reich and Matthews know that Simpson was lying? There is, of course, no way to tell. But on Hardball, this sort of thing was quite routine. No one ever corrected Simpson’s wild statements. And three years later, The Dean would be citing Honest Al about what a nasty-man Tom Daschle is.

Readers, do you think the Raelians are hopelessly wrong? Then you explain the world of this press corps. All through Campaign 2000, Simpson viciously attacked Gore’s character, baldly dissembling as he went. Three years later, he’s Etiquette King. Say hello to your corps’ “liberal bias.”

TOMORROW: Quotes to remember


NEXT WEEK: Incomparable new proposals