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Lieberman keeps twisting that knife

June 13, 2008|Richard Simon

Joe Lieberman, Al Gore's partner on the 2000 Democratic presidential ticket but now an independent, has turned into a major annoyance for Democrats in this year's race for the White House.

Not only has Lieberman gone out on the campaign trail for his Senate buddy John McCain, but he also has formed a group to help the presumptive Republican nominee attract independent and Democratic voters.

And just Wednesday, when Democrats came after McCain for saying it was "not too important" to set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, Lieberman rushed to his defense -- while also taking a swipe at presumed Democratic standard-bearer Sen. Barack Obama.

Still, many Democrats contend that Lieberman -- along with aligning himself with their party for organizational issues and giving them a working majority in the Senate -- offers another saving grace: He often votes with his former party brethren on key issues.

One recent yardstick, though, brings even that virtue somewhat into question. Last year, after Lieberman returned to the Senate as an independent, he sided with the majority of Senate Democrats 81% of the time on party-line votes, according to an analysis by Congressional Quarterly.

The chamber's 49 Democrats, on average, scored 87%. Only five came in at Lieberman's level or lower. (Ben Nelson of Nebraska was at the bottom of the scale at 70%.)

On the other hand, Lieberman has been a leader on environmental causes close to Democratic hearts, including the recent effort to pass a bill to deal with global warming.

The League of Conservation Voters gave Lieberman a score of 93% in 2007 for his votes on positions important to the organization. Among those who scored lower: Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid at 87%.

-- Richard Simon

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