Ann Coulter
In a little-known section of the campaign finance laws, oil companies are completely exempted from spending restrictions. They alone can donate as much money as they see fit, directly to candidates, in thinly disguised "issue advertising," or coordinated expenditures. And spend they do. Year in, year out, oil companies lavish billions of dollars on advertisements promoting their pet politicians and sponsoring vicious negative attack ads on the politicians they oppose.

It is no accident that the very first bill taken up by the U.S. Senate would extend the oil companies' restrictive covenant prohibiting others from competing with these enormous, vile, polluting conglomerates.

Except it's not really oil companies. The exemption is for a much more powerful, vile, polluting conglomerate known as the news media. Section 431(9)(B)(i) of the campaign finance laws wholly exempts from the definition of campaign expenditure: "any news story, commentary or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication."

That's why the media love the McCain-Feingold bill. That's why "campaign finance reform" became the first order of business in the U.S. Senate this term. That's also why the suppression of political speech by anyone but the news media is popularly known as "reform" rather than "anti-competitive legislation protecting an industry cartel."

If campaign expenditures aren't "speech," why is an exception for the news media necessary?

There can be no meaningful reform of campaign finance laws until this completely undeserved monopoly granted by law to a single, repellant, self-serving industry is repealed. Strip the media of their exemption from the campaign finance laws under section 431(9)(B)(i). Then we'll see how enthusiastic they are about such genius McCain-Feingold "reforms" as banning any mention of a federal candidate for 60 days before an election.

More important, there can't even be meaningful debate of campaign finance laws until the Section 431(9)(B)(i) loophole is closed. In the past week, a hard-news item in The New York Times compared John McCain to Don Quixote ("the quixotic Arizona Republican tilts at the political money establishment"); Time magazine referred to McCain as "a chipper warrior," a man "who forgave the Vietnamese despite his captors' hanging him by his broken arms"; and the New York Daily News called McCain simply "the Vietnam War hero."