Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- The phones were ringing off the hook last week in the Capitol Hill office of Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, the House conservative leader, with callers protesting his proposed immigration compromise. The complaints followed urging by the immigration hard-liner, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado.

 "Call Pence at [his Washington office's number] and let him know that you do not support his 'no amnesty' amnesty," Tancredo said on the website for Team America, his political action committee. Pence named his compromise, under which illegal aliens must return to their homelands before entering a guest worker program, the "no-amnesty solution." Tancredo calls it "dressed up amnesty."

 Pence, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, is a member of Tancredo's Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus.


 A November ballot proposition to tax oil produced in California, in an effort to increase alternative fuel use, may threaten California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's no-new-taxes pledge in his race for re-election.

 State Treasurer Phil Angelides, the leading Democratic candidate for governor, last week endorsed the oil tax. He had been attacked by his June 6 primary election opponent, State Controller Steve Westly, for accepting campaign contributions from Big Oil.

 Schwarzenegger faces the choice of backing a new tax in violation of his pledge or opposing a measure intended to reduce petroleum use in California.


 The once safely Republican congressional seat in the San Diego area formerly held by the disgraced Duke Cunningham is so endangered in the June 6 election that GOP House staffers are being urged to volunteer and travel across the country to help former Rep. Brian Bilbray in the last week of his campaign.

 An appeal made to the Republican aides calls the race "way too close for comfort." Bilbray's Democratic opponent, school board member Francine Busby, is being assaulted by National Republican Congressional Committee radio ads as too liberal for the district.

 A footnote: Vice President Dick Cheney came to California last week to hold fund-raisers for Bilbray and two endangered incumbent Republican House members, John Doolittle and Richard Pombo.


 Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, president of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), has been lobbying senators to oppose cutting off debate on repeal of the death tax as that key roll call vote approaches with the issue in doubt.

Robert Novak

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

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