And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine:
The Right Man for the Role
A conservative has won the role of New York District Attorney. Not in real life but what fans see as the closest thing to it — the television series Law and Order. As we reported earlier, Sen. Fred Thompson, a Tennessee Republican, will assume the role of new district attorney. The series producer now says the new character, like the actor, will be a conservative. His political leanings are a little more to the right than former DA's on the show, according to producer Michael Chernuchin. "He is a strict constructionist — that is, for him, the Constitution is what it says it is and nothing more." The show producer says new political stripes for the DA role are "definitely a reaction to 9/11."
A Generous Invitation
Here's an offer most people won't have any trouble turning down — a night in jail. Nevertheless, in Fremont, Calif., police are offering exactly that. City employees, reporters and others are invited to spend the night in the new $8 million dollar jail so any kinks can be worked out before permanent tenants arrive. All expenses paid, of course. The series of what are being called "one-night vacations" will be held in November. The jail opens for real Dec. 14.
Doesn't Have a Prayer?
And finally, Michael Newdow, the California lawyer who sued to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance now wants to kick chaplains out of the U.S. Congress. In a suit filed in federal district court this week, he contends that it is unconstitutional for taxpayer-funded chaplains to lead prayers in the House and Senate and minister to lawmakers. "If congressmen want to go to church, then walk down the block like other Americans do and go to church," Newdow says. "Don't get my government engaged in it. There are some people who don't love God Almighty." Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott responded to Newdow, saying, "I believe the overwhelming majority of Americans who send their senators and members of Congress to Washington to represent them, are comforted by the fact that our chaplains lead us in seeking guidance from a superior power, as we are called upon to make decisions. We should not look upon this as a frivolous case but as another attack on religious liberty."