Robert Novak

McCain presided over a $1,000-a-ticket fund-raiser in Sugar Grove, Ill., for conservative dairy magnate Jim Oberweis. Although Hastert carried the district easily, Republican nominee Oberweis faces a serious battle against liberal Democratic physicist-businessman Bill Foster. Oberweis lost previous primary bids for governor and the U.S. Senate.

In April 2001, then-Speaker Hastert attacked McCain for a letter he sent Republican House members for whom he had campaigned. McCain urged them to vote for the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill in what Hastert called "a threat." McCain was reluctant to help foes of his bill in future elections.

Earmark Defender

Sen. Ted Stevens, the senior Senate Republican who is under federal investigation and press inquiry for his earmark practices, used his monthly newsletter this week to attack fellow Republican and anti-earmark nemesis Sen. Tom Coburn.

Stevens contended Coburn's attack on the famous Stevens earmark funding the "bridge to nowhere" in his home state of Alaska was "strictly for publicity." Stevens charged Coburn "wanted to make a name for himself."

A footnote: The Stevens newsletter also defends his Alaska earmarks, including a Defense Department appropriation for research into hibernation genomics of Alaskan ground squirrels. Martha Stewart, the University of Alaska's federal lobbyist, is quoted as saying: "We have a number of ground squirrels that are in various stages of hibernation in Fairbanks."

Robert Novak

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

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