War President 'Loves' New TV Show

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, February 27, 2004; 10:10 AM

Some L.A. producers are hyping their new TV show by saying it has the president's endorsement.

Jeffrey Jolson-Colburn of E!Online reports that "George W. Bush is apparently giving the White House seal of approval to a television series, D.H.S.--The Series . . . being introduced Thursday night to prospective networks at an Industry gathering.

"President Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge both 'endorse and contribute sound bites to the introductions of the series,' according to the show's producers. . . . 'They love it. They think it is fantastic.' . . .

"The show is billed as a realistic action series following the exploits of Special DHS Agents Andrea Bacall and Jack Callahan, portrayed by actors Alison Heruth Waterbury and Timothy Patrick Cavanaugh. The characters venture from the halls of Washington, D.C., to war-torn locales as they fight fanatical terrorism."

The show has its own Web site.

Mind you, Bush is having a hard time convincing many people that the country is actually still at war, though it's a central element of his campaign for re-election as the "war president." And this show is based on exploiting that very premise.

Don't miss the trailer. Its prologue is none other than Bush's solemn declaration on the morning of Sept. 12, 2001: "The deliberate and deadly attacks which were carried out yesterday against our country were more than acts of terror. They were acts of war. This will require our country to unite in steadfast determination and resolve. Freedom and democracy are under attack."

And it's got visuals and a soundtrack that would make even Karl Rove blush.

But it's not entirely clear whether Bush actually contributed sound bites especially for the show, or whether the show's producers just spliced them in on their own.

E!Online couldn't get the White House to comment. Could this just be an L.A. publicity stunt? We'll find out.

Something New on the Stump

It's not exactly a big secret: Bush basically gives the same speech over and over again at fundraisers.

So when it changes even a little bit, it's news.

Bush trotted out a slightly modified stump speech at yesterday's $1.2 million fundraiser in Louisville. (His Charlotte trip was cancelled on account of snow.)

Among the differences: He's injected his best zingers from Monday night's campaign-opening salvo at the Republican Governors Association. (See Tuesday's column; I was four for four in predicting which ones you'd be hearing over and over again.)

In The Washington Post, Mike Allen writes about another change: "President Bush increased his emphasis on social issues, including his opposition to human cloning, in a new stump speech Thursday during his first road trip since beginning to take on the Democrats."

And what's not in the stump speech is also sometimes news.

Allen writes that "Bush referred only obliquely to his call this week for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, saying Americans 'will not stand for judges who undermine democracy by legislating from the bench, or try to remake the culture of America by court order.' "

Here's the full text of the speech.

Elisabeth Bumiller writes in the New York Times: "Mr. Bush's half-day jaunt here was his most overtly political trip since becoming president and the first in which he directly presented himself as a candidate for the office he now holds. . . .

"Mr. Bush began his day in Louisville at ISCO Industries, a manufacturer of plastic water and sewer pipes, by moderating a 'conversation' on the state of the economy with five participants chosen by the White House. All of them said the president's tax cuts had improved their lives. One said that the extra money let him buy glasses for his daughter and that she could now see the blackboard at school."

Bumiller notes that "Despite the good news on stage, the unemployment rate in Kentucky has increased, to 5.4 percent from 4.9 percent, since Mr. Bush took office, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state's workforce has contracted in that period by 50,000 jobs, to 1.77 million."

Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press writes: "Outside his two carefully orchestrated and supporter-stocked appearances in this friendly Southern state, however, some voters had doubts."

For instance, she writes, on his way to lunch, he was "greeted by about 100 protesters waving signs lettered with a single word: 'Jobs.'"

Wayne Washington writes in the Boston Globe: "For the first time, Bush indicated he would settle for Congress making permanent the tax cuts due to expire next year -- the child tax credit and tax breaks for married couples and for low-income people in the 10 percent bracket.

" 'I would like Congress to make all tax cuts permanent,' he added. 'But [at] the very minimum -- the very minimum -- they need to listen to the stories up here on the stage and make those set to expire in 2005 permanent for the sake of our economy, for the sake of American families, for the sake of small business owners, and for the sake of job creation.' "

Here's the text of Bush's remarks on the economy.

Gay Marriage Watch

Rachel Gordon writes in the San Francisco Chronicle about comedian Rosie O'Donnell marrying her longtime girlfriend in San Francisco yesterday. O'Donnell said they chose to get married "after the sitting president said the vile and vicious and hateful comments he did on Tuesday, and inspired myself and my brand-new wife to fly here this morning."

Tim Grieve writes in a Salon/Rolling Stone coproduction: "If Bush and Rove play the gay card too hard in 2004 -- or if they find themselves linked too closely to militant Christians -- they risk exposing the president to charges of gay bashing and scratching off whatever remains of his 'compassionate conservative' veneer."

More editorials:

The Economist: "So at last it is official: George Bush is in favour of unequal rights, big-government intrusiveness and federal power rather than devolution to the states."

The Wall Street Journal: "We think that any amendment should let the entire issue be decided in the states, by the people through their elected legislators."

St. Petersburg Times: "Our self-proclaimed 'war president' wasn't concentrating on Iraq or the war on terrorism Tuesday. Instead, he was trying to divert the country's attention from such serious issues by launching a pre-emptive attack in the culture wars."

Des Moines Register: So, that's the Big Issue he's going to run on?

Committee Watch

Douglas Jehl writes in the New York Times: "Faced with a refusal by the Bush administration to provide certain documents related to prewar intelligence on Iraq, the Senate intelligence committee voted in a closed session on Thursday to move toward a possible subpoena, according to senior Congressional officials. . . .

"Congressional officials say the administration is continuing to withhold important information, including copies of the president's detailed daily written intelligence digest."

Commission Watch

Philip Shenon writes in the New York Times that Speaker J. Dennis Hastert is single-handedly blocking a proposed two-month extension of the deadline for the final report from the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.

The panel says it doesn't have enough time otherwise to complete its investigation. The White House, which initially opposed the extension, now officially supports it.

Noam Schreiber in the New Republic Online calls this "Cynical White House Kabuki." He thinks Hastert is just doing the White House's secret bidding.

Meanwhile, NBC's Lisa Myers reports that "former Senator Bob Kerry said he may resign from the commission because of White House restrictions on information."

The commission wants Bush to meet with the entire group. Bush has agreed to meet, privately, with the chair and vice-chair alone.

Myers said Republican sources told her the White House is particularly opposed to having Bush submit to questions from former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste and former congressman Timothy J. Roemer.

National Guard Watch

Mimi Swartz, an executive editor of Texas Monthly, has an op-ed in the New York Times this morning in which she chronicles the 10-year history of questions about Bush's National Guard service, and concludes that "the story still seems woefully incomplete and that there have been clear inconsistencies in the answers Mr. Bush and his associates have given about his time in the Guard."

Scalia Watch

Richard A. Serrano and David G. Savage write in the Los Angeles Times about another possible conflict of interest.

"Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was the guest of a Kansas law school two years ago and went pheasant hunting on a trip arranged by the school's dean, all within weeks of hearing two cases in which the dean was a lead attorney."

As you surely remember, "Scalia had been a guest of Vice President Dick Cheney on Air Force Two when they went duck hunting in southern Louisiana. That trip came shortly after the high court had agreed to hear Cheney's appeal seeking to keep secret his national energy policy task force."

Who's On First?

John McCaslin writes in The Washington Times about Bush's somewhat flailing attempts to maintain order among the press corps during a photo op on Wednesday.

Here's the White House transcript.

Cuba, No!

Elizabeth Shogren writes in the Los Angeles Times: "President Bush on Thursday announced a plan to broaden enforcement of the embargo against Cuba by stopping pleasure boaters from traveling to the Caribbean island 90 miles south of Florida.

"The new policy allows U.S. officials, if they believe a boat in U.S. waters may be headed to Cuba, to inspect the vessel, place guards on it and, if necessary, take possession of it."

Scott Lindlaw of the Associated Press writes that "Bush listed a long list of grievances with Cuba, some of them decades old, in explaining his Thursday evening move.

"Some people smelled politics: Bush needs to win Florida in the election this year, and toughening his stance on Cuba can help him win favor with voters there."

Here's that list of grievances.

Mind you, as Fred Barbash and Peter Slevin write in The Washington Post, you can now travel to Libya if you want.

Late Night Humor

From CBS' "The Late Show with David Letterman" via Reuters: "We had a scare down in Washington at the White House. A man hopped over the fence surrounding the White House and he was tackled by Secret Service. I believe this is the first person to get into the White House unlawfully since Bush."

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