June 15th, 2005
By: Peter Freyne’s “Inside Track”, Seven Days
The first shot fired in the 2006 Vermont U.S. Senate race was fired on Monday, but the trigger was pulled far from Vermont, in Washington, D.C. The gun in question belonged to a staffer at the Republican National Senatorial Committee.
Everyone knows that in the wake of Sen. Jim Jeffords’ retirement announcement, the race for that open Vermont seat will be the most expensive and hard-fought in state history.
Independent Rep. Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s political living legend, has made it clear he intends to fill Jeezum Jim’s Senate seat. The GOP has made it clear this week they will stop at nothing to defeat him. And despite trial balloons from political has-beens like Doug Racine, most leading Democrats are backing Bernie.
Monday’s press release from the RNSC was titled “Bernie Sanders: An Ineffective Extremist and Extremely Ineffective.”
The evidence provided was the charge that Sanders has introduced 155 bills since arriving in Congress back in 1991 and only one has become law!
So we rang up the RNSC and spoke with Brian Nick, the staffer focused on Vermont. Very pleasant chap. The Indian-apolis native previously worked on Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s personal staff.
We expressed our surprise that the RNSC was labeling Vermont’s seven-term congressman an “extremist.” Does that mean the 68 percent of Vermont voters who backed Bernie are extremists, too?
We asked Mr. Nick for an example to prove his “extremist” point.
The RNSC spokesman cited juvenile justice legislation from 1999 that he said Bernie did not support. It was actually a 1999 amendment that would have “limited the exposure of pornographic material to minors.” Unlike Sanders, he said, “most members did not support exposing minors to sexually explicit music or videos.”
We looked it up.
The amendment in question was offered by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Illinois), a legendary conservative. It would have required store owners to listen to and, when necessary, censor the lyrics on the music CDs and videos they stocked.
Good bye, America. Hello, Big Brother, eh?
Nick was right. Sanders of Vermont voted “no.” But what the RNSC spokesman neglected to point out was the fact that Ol’ Bernardo joined 281 other members, many Republicans among them, in defeating Hyde’s porno amendment. It lost on a 282-146 roll call vote.
Sanders’ Chief of Staff Jeff Weaver told “Inside Track” the RNSC salvo is an opening sample of the “distortions and untruths” that lie ahead.
The truth, said the St. Albans native, is that Bernie is one of the most effective members of the U.S. House, and he had the numbers to back it up.
According to Weaver, “Sanders has passed the most floor amendments of any member of the House since 1996.” In that period, the House has adopted 14 amendments offerered by Bernie. Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) was second with 11. They were the only two members in double digits.
Not bad for an “ineffective extremist” from Vermont, eh?
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