Speech Comes With a Price

And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine:

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Speech Comes With a Price
Remember Al Gore's troubles with fund raising at that Buddhist temple? Well, now the Weekly Standard reports that Al Gore paid a visit to an economic forum in China last month to deliver a keynote address on the World Trade Organization. And to help pay Gore's undisclosed speaking fee, the China Development Institute, a state-run economic think-tank, sold photo-ops with the former vice president. The South China Morning Post reports the institute offered conference attendees the opportunity to have their picture taken with Gore for 50,000 yuan, about $6,000. But the Gore camp insists the former vice president received no money from Chinese sources and that  the event was a Business Week forum. However, Business Week spokeswoman Nancy Sheed says the magazine did not sponsor the event or invite any of its participants. As an aside, the next day Gore traveled to Hong Kong for a private luncheon with Ronnie Chan, who served as a board member of Enron from 1996 until the company went belly-up this spring.

Ray's Endorsing Suzanne for Senate
Lifelong Democrat Raymond Flynn, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican under President Bill Clinton and former mayor of Boston, has announced he's endorsing Republican Suzanne Terrell instead of incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu in  tomorrow's Louisiana Senate runoff. He says, "The pro-life cause transcends political parties or labels. I urge people of all religious faiths and political affiliations to support Suzanne Terrell...I especially urge pro-life Democrats to vote for Mrs. Terrell, the only pro-life candidate in the race."

100 Years Old...How Old Is That?
And finally, we told you yesterday all about South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday. But how old is that, really? The editors at Maxim Magazine have a list of nine things the senator is older than AM/FM radio, human flight, the Panama Canal, wristwatches, tea bags, ice cream cones, the World Series, the states of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii.  And the ninth thing, Strom Thurmond is older than -- Dick Clark.