Let's check out some political stories we found this week Below the Fold:

Views From Afar

Former Clinton minion Paul Begala offered his views of the American political scene this week to the Buzzflash website.

Among his memorable mots: "I think Bush is a much bigger phony than Al Gore could ever be." Of conservative Republicans: "I believe these people hate themselves. I believe they hate our country. I believe they hate our culture. And they can't deal with that… so they project it onto (Bill Clinton.)" And finally, of the Clinton presidency: "We were the most ethical administration in history."

Unconventional Thinking

The Southern Baptist Convention, slated to meet soon in St. Louis, has cancelled all reservations at a Howard Johnson's motel the city after learning the establishment also will supply rooms and facilities to an upcoming celebration of sadomasochism sponsored by a group called St. Louis Leather and Lace.

The outfit promotes the, "free expression of alternative lifestyles and forms of loving." Its "Beat me in St. Louis" festival will include Dungeon parties, featuring medieval torture devices and such alternative forms of affection as caning and whipping. Howard Johnson's parent company says the hotel management has met with local police to ensure Leather and Lace will "be abiding by federal, state and local laws."