Ethics anyone?

John McCaslin
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Posted: Jun 07, 2005 12:00 AM

It's time for our annual look at those prominent Washington journalists who arguably are crossing the ethics line by lending their names in support of the Women's Campaign Fund (WCF), which raises money to elect "pro-choice" women to Capitol Hill.

This year's celebrity guests for eight individual dinner parties, to be held in the homes of prominent Washingtonians on June 15, include Time editor and CNN analyst Margaret Carlson, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, political commentator Bill Press, syndicated columnist Helen Thomas, PBS host Bonnie Erbe, People magazine's Jane Podesta, NPR radio host Diane Rehm and Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report.

When we drew attention to last year's list of "journalist celebrities" attending the dinners, only Washington radio station WTOP demanded that its popular political commentator, Mark Plotkin, not break bread with the WCF.

Among those hosting dinners in their homes next week are Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat; Rep. Judy Biggert, Illinois Republican; and Rep. Susan A. Davis, California Democrat.

And when the WCF claims it's nonpartisan, it's not kidding. Numerous Republicans are attending the fund-raisers, which are sponsored in part this year by Republicans for Choice.

MORE OR LESS?

While we're on the subject of abortion, Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican, is calling attention to a "myth" that's been circulating about abortions increasing since President Bush was elected in 2000.

The myth, the congressman says, got legs when Glen Stassen, an ethics professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, and journalist Gary Krane co-authored an article last October headlined, "Why abortion rate is up in Bush years."

It "attempted to make the case that President Bush's pro-life policies have not been effective in decreasing abortion," Smith states. "This mantra was picked up and repeated by many public figures and organizations who do not hold pro-life positions, but the facts simply do not support their claims.

"In fact, abortion has continued to decrease while President Bush has been in office, as demonstrated by an Annenberg Political Fact Check."

Posted in recent days, the Annenberg report is titled, "Abortions rising under Bush? Not true. How that false claim came to be and lives on."

In summary, it states that Democratic politicians, including New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Democratic National Committee chairman and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, all now contend that abortions have increased since Bush took office.

Rather, the report cites a study of 43 states by the Alan Guttmacher Institute showing that abortions "have actually decreased" across America.

WINNING AND LOSING

The Democratic leadership has vowed to delay John R. Bolton's confirmation as the next ambassador to the United Nations because President Bush refuses to release "relevant documents that could raise serious questions" about his past service with the State Department.

And in doing so, wouldn't you know, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has inserted into its party's credo on Bolton the reflections of two leading Republicans: Ohio Sen. George V. Voinovich and former Wyoming Sen. Alan K. Simpson.

As we've all read, Mr. Voinovich remarked of Bolton: "(W)hat message are we sending to the world community when in the same breath we have sought to appoint an ambassador to the United Nations who himself has been accused of being arrogant, of not listening to his friends, of acting unilaterally, of bullying those who do not have the ability to properly defend themselves?"

He then added: "I believe that John Bolton would have been fired if he'd worked for a major corporation."

As for Simpson, we should make it clear that he wasn't referring to Bolton, but rather the more-conservative wing of his party when he observed: "I've been a Republican all my life. They'll never throw me out. But they have an amazing ability to eat their young. They give each other the saliva test of purity every once in a while, and then they lose. And then they just sit around and bitch for four years. It's a fairly fascinating party."

The only problem - for Democrats, that is, as the GOP is quick to point out - is that the Republicans haven't been losing of late.

ELVIS FILES

It's a historic week at the National Archives, which, for the first time is opening to the public nearly 1.2 million official military personnel files, including 150 files of "persons of exceptional prominence" - presidents, famous military leaders, entertainers and professional athletes who died at least 10 years ago.

They include the files of John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Charles Lindbergh, Joe Louis, Steve McQueen, Clark Gable, Douglas MacArthur, Humphrey Bogart, Franklin Roosevelt, Wendell Wilkie and Alvin York (called the most famous American hero of World War I, he captured 132 Germans by himself).

The remainder of the 1.2 million files are those of former U.S. Navy and Marine Corps enlisted personnel who served in the military between 1885 and 1939.

PIERCED LIPS

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is planning to confront members of Congress on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, holding huge posters showing a dog with a fishhook impaled in its lip and the tagline: "If You Wouldn't Do This to a Dog, Why Do It to a Fish?"

Part of PETA's national "Fish Empathy Project," the group aims to "let anglers know that there's nothing sporting about fishing, that fish feel pain, and that fish are individuals who deserve respect."

PETA's people will approach legislators outside the Dirksen Senate Office Building, where the American Sportfishing Association is holding an awards ceremony for politicians who did the most to support and promote fishing.

WATERGATE FOOTNOTE

Before we close the Watergate chapter on retired FBI agent W. Mark Felt, who stepped out of Deep Throat's closet last week, we turn to a most intriguing story by American Spectator senior editor George Neumayr.

In 1999, a teenager wrote a high school term paper that rocked Watergate scribe Carl Bernstein right out of his rocking chair by outing Felt. (For his effort, the student's teacher gave him a B.)

How did Chase Culeman-Beckman, who wasn't even born at the time of Watergate, know so much?

"Chase . . . had attended a posh Long Island summer camp with Carl Bernstein's son Jacob roughly a decade earlier and had heard Jacob (then all of 8) popping off learnedly about 'Mark Felt' as Deep Throat," Neumayr writes.

And get this, when the 20-page term paper found its way to scant members of the press in 1999, Bernstein conducted his own "cover-up."

"Judging from his bobbing and weaving in press accounts, Bernstein was sweating," notes the editor. "He appeared to be alternately playing dumb, lying and putting his son up to squashing the story."

Bernstein told the Hartford Courant: "I hate to ruin your story, but Jacob Bernstein has not a clue as to the identity of Deep Throat. Bob (Woodward) and I have been wise enough never to tell our wives, and we've certainly never told our children."

He even made Jacob, mere lad he was, go before the cameras: "At no point did my father, Carl Bernstein, or Bob Woodward reveal the identity of Deep Throat," the boy declared.

Concludes Neumayr: "How a high school student got Carl Bernstein lying and sweating like Richard Nixon deserves its own journalistic footnote."

NO ESCAPE

Influential clients of the Andre Chreky salon in downtown Washington are being asked to think about more than their hair and nails this summer.

The salon's owners are seeking clients' help in persuading Congress to pass legislation that would extend to the salon industry a tax credit currently available to the restaurant industry. Both pay federal taxes on tips their employees report, but only restaurant owners can claim the so-called 45(b) tip tax credit to get some money back.

"It's just unfair," says salon co-owner Serena Chreky, who also is vice president and co-chairwoman of government affairs for the Salon Association.

So, along with tips on facials and hair coloring, the salon is providing clients a tutorial on the bill - sponsored by Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican, and Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, Connecticut Republican.

Chreky says salons could use the tax credit money for costs such as health insurance and employee training.

BULLY BUSH

The opening question President Bush was asked by a reporter in the middle of his Oval Office meeting with South African President Thabo Mbeki was this: "What are your thoughts about the fact that 'Deep Throat' has been outed?"

"I knew it wasn't you," Bush replied. "You weren't even born during that period."

"I was, I was born. I was old enough," the reporter countered.

"Barely," Bush said.

TIME TO ROLL

Congratulations to Steven A. McNamara, who after almost four decades of toiling for Uncle Sam has stepped down this week as inspector general for the U.S. House of Representatives.

In a farewell letter to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, McNamara writes: "My goal, and that of my staff, has been to help the House achieve the best use of all the dollars it spends, increase efficiencies, and ensure the health, safety, and security of members, staff, and visitors. . . .

"Now, after slightly more than 35 years of federal service, I look forward to a new chapter in my life: the pursuit of . . . kayak instructor and kayaking guide."

STILL A BARGAIN

"DCist," a popular Web site (www.dcist.com) about everyday life in the nation's capital, has posted a photograph from a faithful D.C. tipster who happened into a Barnes & Noble bookstore while visiting Billings, Mont.

"While no other national newspapers aside from USA Today and the Wall Street Journal have seemed to have made their way to south-central Montana, just below Shotgun News (on the newspaper rack) is The Washington Times," the posting notes.

We see by the photograph that a single copy of our newspaper sells for a rather hefty $2.50 in Billings. Here in Washington, where Pony Express charges aren't tacked on, the paper still costs a quarter.

MORE THAN MEXICANS

Introducing legislation to build better intelligence and communication between the U.S. and Mexican governments on border security, Rep. Katherine Harris, Florida Republican, provides these eye-opening figures from the Homeland Security Department:

Approximately 100,000 of those arrested of late along this country's 2,000-mile southern border were of non-Hispanic descent. As many as 4,000 were from "countries of interest," such as Somalia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia - countries that have been associated with or produce terrorist and/or al-Qaida cells.

The number of illegal aliens from "countries of interest" who are not caught crossing the border is anybody's guess - and everybody's concern.

EYER'S SECRET

As expected, Beltway Beat readers were humored if not intrigued by our item from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which had quoted a doctor as saying that, for men and women alike, "the kind of gradual, sustained exercise a day of hunting offers is far more beneficial than a half-hour in the gym."

"Hunting is a good idea," agrees reader Olen Eyer. "I started hunting in 1942 when I was 7 and have never been overweight."