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National Perspective

Washington Insight

April 29, 1998|From The Times Washington Bureau

A SELF-VOTER: Although California's new blanket primary would allow him to vote in June for the Democrat he'd most like to face in November, presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Lungren says he plans to punch the hole next to his own name. "This is not 8th grade, where the nuns tell you it's improper to vote for yourself," the attorney general told California journalists Tuesday over lunch at a Capitol Hill restaurant. "I'm going to vote for myself, and I'm asking my friends to vote for me."

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PARTY NOW, PAY LATER? Paula Corbin Jones enjoyed herself at the White House Correspondents' Assn. dinner the other night, but across the ballroom a sometime-foe was vowing she might regret showing up at an event that included President Clinton. Robert S. Bennett, Clinton's attorney, promised that if Jones' sexual harassment case is ever heard by a jury, he'd offer photos of her at the fete to impeach her claim that the alleged incident with Clinton made it impossible for her to even watch him on TV.

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BEEN THERE, SEEN WORSE: While chatting with a White House correspondent at a pre-dinner cocktail party, former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger displayed a keen curiosity about the current White House climate. When told the atmosphere was "tense" because of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's probe into the nature of the relationship between Clinton and former intern Monica S. Lewinsky, Kissinger scoffed at the notion that Clinton's troubles would create a stressful environment. Kissinger, who knelt in prayer with President Nixon the night before he resigned, knows from stress. Recalling the White House during the Watergate days, he said: "That was tense."

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THE HARD WAY, CONT.: It would seem House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), author of a book on "lessons learned the hard way," has fodder for a sequel. Forced to publicly reverse an earlier reversal and allow a House debate on campaign finance reform, Gingrich rued to Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.): "I'm continuing learning you don't do things out of anger."

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PARTY POOPER? Shays' strong advocacy of campaign finance reform has made him a thorn in the side of many of his GOP colleagues--perhaps even a majority. Then again, he is rather outspoken. Asked at a Tuesday breakfast if a report from Starr might rivet the House on impeachment proceedings to the exclusion of other business, Shays replied, without missing a beat: "We're having a hard time getting anything done now!"

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CHILDREN BEWARE: A base insult that Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) recently leveled against Clinton--"This guy's a scumbag"--prompted uncomfortable hand-wringing in some quarters. The New York Times avoided using the term. Instead, the paper's Washington correspondent most certainly piqued readers' curiosities by referring to Burton's remark as "a vulgarity for a condom." A day later, the newspaper revised its definition to "a euphemism for a despicable person." Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh, meanwhile, gave parents a warning before using the word on his syndicated radio show. "If you wish to protect your children from certain words--words that are not nice--you may want to send them out of the room now," Limbaugh said. Then, Limbaugh told listeners that congressional Democrats in recent years have called Republicans far worse things. His list: terrorists, Nazis, rapists, fascists and whores.

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