And now the most engrossing two minutes in television, the latest from the political grapevine:
Staff Not Stiffed
Last year may have been disastrous for Rep. Gary Condit's, D-Calif., now-ended political career, but it turned out to be a great year for loyal members of his top staff. Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, reports that even as Condit's popularity plunged amid revelations of an affair with the late Washington intern Chandra Levy, his executive secretary, Jackie Mullen, saw her annual salary increase from $57,000 to $99,000. The pay of Condit's administrative assistant, Mark Dayton, jumped from $95,000 to $115,000 and his chief of staff, Michael Lynch, got a raise from $114,000 to $127,500. The newspaper reports that the pay of each has continued to go up this year as well.
Freshman Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., told democratic activists in New Hampshire over the weekend that he has "an outside Washington perspective...I have a view that is similar to average Americans." Edwards then went on to blast President Bush for his proposal to create a new Department of Homeland Security. According to the Raleigh The News and Observer, Edwards said of the proposed department, "Maybe that needs to be done, but what are we going to do about the threats we're facing today?" Edwards complained that the president is too focused on organizational charts and such issues as "Who's going to get the corner office?"
Woes of a Travelin' Man
Meanwhile, another democrat with his eye on the White House may be starting to feel some heat from home over his political travels. The Hartford Courant reports that Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., has spent 61 days outside Washington this year, but only 10 of them in Connecticut. The paper says that's about the same amount of time he's spent campaigning for himself and others on the West Coast. Lieberman says he has "a pretty good sense of the opinions and needs of the state."
A Hairy Situation
The NAACP and other groups are disputing the results of random drug tests in the Boston Police Department in which 45 Boston cops tested positive. Of those, The Boston Globe reports, roughly two thirds were black. The tests are done on hair samples, which have been shown to retain drug traces for several months. But the complaint is that such tests may tend to return false positives on dark hair. The complaining groups did not attempt to explain why not a single Asian officer tested positive.