Hillary Against Herself
Straight-Shooting Shrub
Lost Alamos
Chernobyl's Legacy
Bush Boners
Heaven on Earth

After Rudy
Hillary Against Herself

No matter who runs against her, Hillary Clinton faces an uphill race. John Zogby, the pollster who's been following the First Lady's Senate campaign day-to-day, makes the point that she's her own toughest opponent, in that she's never broken 50 percent. In polls taken after Giuliani's announcement that he had prostate cancer, and then in the wake of news of his marital breakup, Hillary and Hizzoner were neck and neck in the low 40s. In six Zogby polls during that stretch, more than 40 percent voted against her.

Meanwhile, on the Albany Watch, Governor Pataki's staff continued to insist he won't run—and Pataki wouldn't be a shoo-in by any means. Though viewed as the top Republican vote-getter in the state, many professionals see him as a lightweight. In Zogby's last pairing of Pataki with Hillary, he edged her 47 to 44 percent. Rick Lazio, though young and relatively unknown, might do better. He's a fresh face, and should appeal to voters upstate as well as those in the crucial suburbs. As for Hillary, Zogby notes, she not only must make big inroads upstate but mobilize a huge turnout of urban black voters.

Home on the Range
Straight-Shooting Shrub

With the wildly popular Bubba Bill Clinton as his model, George W. Bush has been busily transforming himself from a smirking prep-school drunk to a charming Lone Star scalawag whose family came south from the blueblood east to take over the nation's largest and most prosperous banana republic. As Dubya bounced across his ranch in a pickup truck with Barbara Walters on 20/20 recently, you just knew that this man means well. It's a dirty job, but with his training at Yale and in the Air National Guard, Dubya is a can-do kinda guy. Like the way he has dealt with killer crooks. Do-gooders are upset that they don't get fair trials? Sometimes the evidence isn't all there? Well, look at it this way, any trial is better than no trial at all. And it just makes sense not to let things drag on. It would be cruel and unusual punishment not to kill these crooks as quickly as possible. The voters love to wake up and find that another of these pitiful losers is dead. Remember how Bill Clinton aced it with Ricky Ray Rector?

Shrub knows he's right about this. He tells everyone he is "absolutely confident" that the death penalty is fair, even though The Washington Post reported last week that since there are few public defender offices in Texas, poor defendants must rely on court-appointed lawyers, some of whom have been known to sleep through crucial legal proceedings, fail to file important legal papers on time or correctly, and have been cited repeatedly for misconduct. Since Bush took office, 127 prisoners have been offed—one every two weeks. Currently, 465 inmates are awaiting the needle, almost all of them indigent. Their lawyers, the Post reports, are linked to patronage through appointment by elected judges. One such legal eagle acknowledged in an interview that he was an active alcoholic and a cocaine user, but said he stayed sober in court. However, he couldn't file an appeal for his client because his law license had been suspended. Another, whose indigent client was executed while Dubya was governor, was arrested during this unfortunate's trial and charged with failing to file legal papers in the death-penalty appeal of an earlier client. In one case, when a new lawyer asked for a new trial because the previous attorney was caught snoozing, the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that just because a lawyer sleeps at the defense table, he is not necessarily ineffective. A new trial was refused, and the defendant was executed.

Then there's so-called pollution—even though Texas has plenty of wide-open spaces. But since the do-gooder EPA says the state is one of the most polluted in the nation, who can blame the governor for calling together the big polluters and asking them to write a new environmental law they can live with? According to the lib-symp National Public Radio, in March 1997 the presidents of Marathon Oil and Exxon devised a voluntary atmospheric cleanup program that lacked any enforcement provisions. It later became the legislation Bush backed and signed. NPR reported that "no one knew about the collaboration between the industry and the governor's office" until it was leaked to environmentalists. According to NPR, environmentalists have pointed out that Bush received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from polluters who benefited from the industry-designed program. "The documents that we got from the agency clearly showed backroom dealing between the governor and industry," Peter Altman of the eco group SEED told NPR. "And in fact, it showed that the Texas environmental agency had tried to close the loophole on these dirty old plants, and it was the governor's influence, responding to the oil industry, that prevented them from doing it." What do you expect Dubya to do? Close down Exxon? Hey. If you can't make it in the city, move to the country.

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