The Political Grapevine - August 2, 2001

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And now for the latest pickings from Special Report's "Political Grapevine."

Let's talk about sex

As members of Congress hurry to finish their work before recess, they're not just contemplating weighty issues, such as the Patients' Bill or Rights, but also lawmakers' rights and wrongs.

Republican Congressman Scott McInnis of Colorado tells The Hill newspaper that he wants the House Ethics Committee to ban lawmakers from having sex with interns.  McInnis says he's not trying to legislate morality, but, in the wake of recent events, he hears wisecracks in his district about sex with interns becoming a congressional perk.

Other lawmakers and, as you've seen, Vice President Dick Cheney disagree.  One congressman says, "If wedding vows don't stop people, a rule won't either."

A popular law firm losing some of its credit

And as if Democratic Congressman Gary Condit of California had nothing else to worry about, the newspaper Roll Call is reporting somebody has embezzled $35,000 from the campaign coffers of Condit and two other congressmen.

One of California's most prestigious law firms has fired an employee who allegedly was filching money from the accounts.  The firm, Olson,  Hagel, Waters & Fishburn, serves as general counsel to California's Democratic Party and has been retained by at least seven members of Congress.

A fired employee allegedly used the money to pay off a personal credit-card bill.

A meeting place at the border

Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to Canada says he wants a complete overhaul of the border between the two countries in order to cut down on delays to traders and travelers trying to move from one to the other.

But Paul Cellucci also tells Reuters that it might be possible some day to scrap the 3,100-mile border entirely.  He says the main idea is to make it easier for law-abiding U.S. and Canadian citizens to move between the two countries.

In a speech last week, Cellucci said the border should be a meeting place, not a frontier, and that the borderless border was part of a long-term strategy to implement the letter and spirit of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Florida Democratic frontrunner

And, finally, a Mason-Dixon poll of registered voters in Florida shows Janet Reno is the Democratic front runner in the state's gubernatorial primary, though she hasn't said publicly whether she'll run.

The poll shows that, in a race among six candidates, she'd earn 47 percent of the vote.  However, the survey also shows that Reno would lose the general election against current governor, Republican Jeb Bush, 54 to 39 percent.

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