John McCaslin
One well-known politician in Washington was overheard this week discussing his personal angst regarding a widely heard political commentator in town and his repeated violation of the "off-the-record" rule.

"Every time I tell him something, and explain that it is 'off the record,' I hear it broadcast the next day. And every time I confront him about it, he says: 'I know it was off the record, but it was too good not to use.'"


In light of news that D.C. Council member and former Mayor Marion Barry tested positive for cocaine after a recent court-ordered drug test, maybe a joke circulating around the John A. Wilson Building isn't such a stretch of the imagination: that his honor wasn't really "robbed" at gunpoint in his apartment kitchen recently; rather, it was "a drug deal gone bad."


"Unfortunately, we Republicans have taken earmarking to an unprecedented level. It is now our responsibility to clean it up."

That's an honest assessment from Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, who is out to reform the practice of earmarking - spending items slipped into appropriations bills without congressional oversight.

In a letter to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Flake goes so far as to say that it is "no secret that over the past several months, our reputation as a governing majority has taken a beating. It is clear that continuing . . . indictments, possible indictments, plea deals, tainted campaign contributions, etc., have severely eroded public trust."

Worse yet, he said, disgraced lobbyist "Jack Abramoff reportedly referred to the Appropriations Committee as a 'favor factory.'"

And here's the kicker: "No one who has seen the process firsthand, as we have, would honestly dispute his characterization," Flake told his Republican boss.


The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has been keeping close tabs on Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who is out raising money for Democrats this week, even though his name continues to surface in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

Those in charge of Republican campaign coffers find it ironic that Reid, despite the cloud hanging over his head, has been raising money in Western Republican "red" states that backed President Bush in 2004 (his final stop Thursday was to be Nebraska, having stumped for cash earlier this week in Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Idaho.)

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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