Washington Prowler

Fishing and Hoping

Joe goes casting. Al goes polling. Terry goes planning.

By 5.23.02

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CASTING A WIDE NET
There's a secondary reason why Joe Lieberman and the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee subpoenaed the White House for any documents related to Enron. It's not just an Enron-related fishing expedition. Lieberman is hoping that documents related to Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force will find their way over as well.

"We don't know if there's anything there. But given that the White House is going to fight us anyway, we might as well try," said a Democratic aide on the committee.

The White House is already battling the General Accounting Office over the Cheney task force. And already that agency is finding out that the current administration operates more smoothly than its predecessor. Today few key task force members remain in the White House. Most have already hightailed it out, taking their recollections and anything else with them into the private sector.

The last time Congress tangled with this kind of task force, it was in 1993 with Hillary Clinton's health-care body. In that case, many if not all of its key players stayed on at the White House after it was disbanded.

"It's our feeling that if there was another bombshell related to the energy task force it would have gone off long ago," says the staffer. "Lieberman's just hoping to have some good soundbites if things go his way in 2004."

BUNDLE OF JOY
Florida loser Al Gore may still consider himself the leader of the Democratic Party, but it's not clear if staffers at the Democratic National Committee would agree, given the way they've been treating him.

Currently a number of states are being polled to gauge interest in a Gore 2004 presidential run. "And it's all pretty much bad news," says a DNC staffer who's been helping to compile the polling data.

Just to make sure Gore is aware of how bad the news really is -- the latest being a California poll that showed him losing to Bush in a head to head race -- the DNC bundles all its research material into a single package and mails it off to Gore. "We're assuming he's paying attention to all this stuff, but if he isn't we just want to make sure he has the full picture," says the DNC staffer.

It could be worse. At least it's not Joe Lieberman or John Edwards sending him the data.

DEMOCRAT CONVENTIONAL WISDOM
Much was made yesterday of the Democrats' announcement that they intend to hold their next presidential nominating convention at the same time the Republicans do. Don't believe it. According to a DNC fundraiser who helped organized the 2000 Democratic convention in Los Angeles, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe and other senior party officials are just trying to get the Republicans' goat.

"There's no way we could compete with the kind of political star power they will be putting up night after night," says the DNC source. "We're realistic enough to know that if the choice is between listening to Colin Powell or Dick Gephardt, the casual viewer will go with Powell eight out of ten times." (Just eight?)

Traditionally, the party out of power holds its convention several weeks before the party occupying the White House does. McAuliffe is considering running the Democratic convention so close to the Republican dates that the Democrats' closing night and their nominee's acceptance speech might air in prime time on the same evening that the Republicans open their convention.

"There is a school of thought here that believes the networks would focus all their attention on the acceptance speech and that all the big media names would stay with us," the DNC source says.

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