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Political Buzz from Washington

Issue: "Don't have a cow," Aug. 11, 2001

With Bill Clinton gone, Hollywood's elite has found a new cause: embryonic stem-cell research. Variety columnist Army Archerd reported that Airplane and Naked Gun producer Jerry Zucker used the premiere of his new movie Rat Race to raise $420,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Stem Cell Advocacy Campaign. He wants the group to hire a lobbyist to push the embryo experimentation. Zucker, whose daughter Katie has diabetes, visited Washington last month to meet with some of the Senate's embryonic-research advocates, including Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Included in the soundtrack for his new movie is the song "America Rocks!," written by Janice Kapp Perry and Sen. Hatch. Performing the song: the Hatch-Perry Singers of Provo, Utah, a group of 5th- and 6th-grade kids. Pro-Bush poll watchers fret over the latest Zogby poll conducted July 26-29, presented as 47 percent giving President Bush a "positive" rating, and 51 percent a "negative" rating. That is a drop from a 51 to 48 percent split a month before. But a deeper look at the methodology shows that Zogby asked if Bush's performance was "excellent," "good," "fair," or "poor." The breakdown in the latest poll: excellent 17 percent, good 30, fair 34, and poor 17. So the question in the capital becomes: Does answering "fair" imply a negative rating or that a voter wouldn't pull the lever for President Bush? White House spinners quickly turn the page to other polls: The Pew Research Center in mid-July found 52 percent approved of the president, 27 percent disapproved, a 1 percent hike in approvals and a 5 percent drop in disapprovals. The late July Harris poll numbers were 56 to 39, a big improvement from 50-46. Pundits predicted trouble when the CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll just before the Fourth of July showed the Dubya approval number dropping to 52, but two mid-July polls found approval numbers of 56 and 57. The fog lifted slightly when the latest Washington Post-ABC poll showed Bush's job approval rating climbed to 59 percent, with 38 percent disapproving. A Post-ABC poll in August 1993 found President Bill Clinton's negative job approval rating outweighing his positive score, 51 percent to 45 percent. Jimmy Carter visited his old White House digs to show President Bush his blue-ribbon panel's new report on election reform. One of the proposed fixes for media coverage is a broadcast ban on any election returns until all 48 continental states have voted. Carter didn't explain what would happen in the event that a losing candidate would concede defeat before all the continental states' polls closed-which he did when Ronald Reagan buried him in the Electoral College landslide of 1980. Press accounts often present moderate Republicans as the agreeable, rational ones. But abortion fighters in the House are telling their leaders to remember how moderates handled their surprisingly big loss in the battle over cloning. When members of the Tuesday "lunch bunch" saw that Rep. Jim Greenwood's weaker anti-cloning bill wouldn't make it, 15 of them decided to try to vote down a procedural motion that would have prevented passage of any anti-cloning bill; that's the same thing moderate Republicans did to derail the plan to vote on campaign-finance reform three weeks earlier. But a surprising bloc of more than 30 Democrats foiled the moderate back-stabbing ploy and voted to stick with Speaker Hastert's plan to pass vigorous anti-cloning legislation. Their favorite liberal for a day was Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who matched his passion against genetically engineered foods with distaste for genetically engineered human lab samples. Some Wisconsin Democrats are talking up third-term Rep. Ron Kind against incumbent Republican Gov. Scott McCallum for governor. After years of Tommy Thompson landslides, the Democrats are crowding into the ring to face the still little-known McCallum. Kind, an anchorman-handsome native of the Mississippi River city La Crosse, could use his Western dairy-farm district roots to offset the three announced Democratic candidates, all from Milwaukee. If Kind runs, his Third District seat would quickly become a feisty open seat battle. Republican Steve Gunderson represented the district for 16 years until he retired after revealing he was a homosexual. Democrats counter that the district has voted for the Democrat presidential nominee since '88.

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