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.
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
Missouri Republican Gov. Matt Blunt's prospective 2008 re-election campaign was not on the agenda of a recent meeting between him and his political team, leading to informed speculation that he might not run for a second term in the barometer state.
Republican fortunes in Missouri nose-dived after Blunt, at age 33, rode a 2004 GOP tide to victory. He was at war with his conservative base last year after endorsing a ballot initiative supporting embryonic stem cell research that was passed in the 2006 election. State Atty. Gen. Jay Nixon, the state's most experienced Democratic office-seeker, is expected to be a formidable candidate for governor.
A footnote: Blunt was the only governor present at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's recent presidential fund-raising extravaganza.
Dr. Multimillionaire (cont.)
Rep. Steve Kagen, the self-financed freshman Democrat who claimed he insulted George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Laura Bush and Karl Rove at a post-election White House reception, called for bipartisan cooperation in his first legislative speech in the House Wednesday.
Democratic leaders were reported to have advised Kagen to cool off when he took the House floor to urge passage of a college aid bill. Kagen attracted national attention by telling peace activists in his northern Wisconsin district of his alleged taunting of President and Mrs. Bush. The White House called Kagen's story "ridiculous."
Kagen, who calls himself "Dr. Multimillionaire," is a rich allergist who came from nowhere to win the usually Republican district.