Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is planning the establishment of a "select" committee on the environment and energy that would undermine the authority of Rep. John Dingell, the Michigan Democrat who was first elected in 1954 and is the senior member of Congress.

Dingell, a Detroit congressman closely tied to the auto industry, is reported by congressional sources to be furious about the Energy and Commerce committee that he heads losing jurisdiction to Pelosi's new creation. The select panel would also supplant the House Natural Resources Committee headed by Rep. Nick Rahall, who as a West Virginian is sympathetic to the coal industry.

The prospective chairman of the new committee would be Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, one of the most flamboyant liberals and uncompromising environmentalists in Congress.

Gonzales's Judges

Conservative court-watchers were surprised and alarmed Wednesday when Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales, who has not said a word recently about judicial selection, delivered a speech saying that "the president and I" pick the persons who are named to the federal bench. Gonzales is not a favorite of conservatives.

Judicial selection had been in the hands of recently resigned White House Counsel Harriet Miers. Gonzales chose the interregnum between Miers and her successor, old Washington hand Fred Fielding, to speak to an audience of from 75 to 100 at the American Enterprise Institute.

Asserting that President Bush is looking for nominees who would practice judicial restraint, Gonzales declared that "I am charged with helping him find such people." Until now, that duty had been in the hands of Miers, who had to reject efforts by Gonzales to put his own choices on the bench.

Dick Morris's Appeal

Persons on Republican mailing lists this week received an appeal for funds from Dick Morris, President Bill Clinton's political strategist in 1995-1996, asking for a contribution between $25 and $100 or more to finance a critical film documentary of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Signing the letter as "Former Clinton Adviser," Morris wrote: "If you liked how the Swift Boat Veterans turned the tide against John Kerry, you understand how a top Clinton aide can turn the tables and stop a Clinton-style liberal from becoming the next president of the United States."

Morris's appeal was made through The Presidential Coalition, run by conservative activist Dave Bossie. The letter described Morris as dedicated to electing presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Since 1996, Morris has been an author, columnist and television commentator.

Down in Missouri

Robert Novak

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

©Creators Syndicate