Robert Novak

 Pearson said HHS had discussed helping to fund the conference but was turned off by the titles of some of the conference's panels. Officials of The Stonewall Project, which provides counseling to gay meth users, led discussions at the conference of "What's Speed Got To Do With It? The Demonization of a Drug" and "You Don't Have to Be Clean & Sober. Or Even Want to Be!"


 President Bush's unusual dispatch Wednesday of Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, by presidential jet to Tindouf, Algeria, to preside over a sensitive prisoner release in the Western Sahara, was requested by participants and had been in the works for weeks.

 U.S. diplomats worked hard for the release of 404 remaining Moroccan prisoners of war held by the Polisario Front independence movement, but it had been postponed several times. Lugar was requested as a statesman respected by President Bush but independent of the Bush administration.

 A footnote: The relationship between Lugar and Secretary of State Colin Powell had been correct but cool. Lugar is much closer to Powell's successor, Condoleezza Rice.


 Democratic recruitment of star challengers against incumbent Republican senators in 2006, mediocre so far, may soon get a boost in Missouri with the expected candidacy of former State Auditor Claire McCaskill against first-term Sen. Jim Talent.

 McCaskill, who lost narrowly for governor of Missouri last year to Republican Matt Blunt, is a major threat to Talent. Party leaders in Washington, desperate for credible Senate challengers, have promised McCaskill lavish financing for the Senate race.

 A footnote: Sen. Jon Kyl, fourth ranking in the GOP Senate hierarchy as Policy Committee chairman, probably will encounter a well-financed opponent when he seeks a third term in Arizona next year. Former Democratic State Chairman Jim Pederson, a rich developer, plans to tap his own bankroll against Kyl.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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