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Leading With The Left
The daily view from the oasis

Three columns today kids. Well, two-and-a-quarter∑

September 6, 2002
Priscilla, Osama, and Dubya

(posted September 6 1 AM ET)
(edited September 6 8:30 AM ET)

Dubya‚s poll numbers have dropped below 60% (via Joe Conason and MyDD)

Al Qaeda‚s back in town.

And Priscilla Owen went down.

What does this all mean?

Owen‚s defeat at the hands of Senate Dems shows that the party is further losing its fear of Dubya‚s political strength. As his poll numbers plummet, Dems feel freer to challenge him directly.

Since Dems are showing some spunk, Al Qaeda‚s attack in Afghanistan will likely encourage them to ask more pointed questions about war with Iraq.

Why? Because the attack plays right into the arguments of Gore‚s and Poppy‚s national security advisers, not to mention Bill Clinton.

-- Al Qaeda is the most pressing danger
-- They‚re the guys actually shooting at us
-- Afghanistan is still unstable
-- It‚s real close to Pakistan, which already has nukes
-- Take care of the business at hand
-- Don‚t waste military resources on a problem that is not imminent and maybe can be handled peaceably

Tom Daschle's feeling enough spunk that he's trying to ask enough questions to push back a vote until after the elections.

Having said that, don‚t expect Democrats to get so much spunk that they vote down a pro-war resolution.

John Kerry's angling to be the leader of the questioners. But it's extremely doubtful that he will vote against a Gulf War for the second time.

Joe Lieberman‚s a sure yes vote. Joe Biden has practically endorsed a war. Think John Edwards wants to be the odd man out?

Not to mention all the Dems running for re-election that won‚t want to look squishy a month before Election Day.

But Dems will ask questions. Lots of them. Tough ones even.

With Bush‚s numbers dropping, and with the skittishness they heard from their constituents during the August recess, Dems will feel obligated to express concerns through questions.

By the time they‚re done, support for a war could very well fall even further. Which will make it all the more awkward when they endorse one.

The Power of a LiberalOasis Endorsement
(posted September 6 1 AM ET)

LiberalOasis is deeper into New Jersey‚s 5th District congressional election than previously thought.

If you recall, the September 4 post (see below), LO had complained that the Sumers campaign called to remove a link to her web site.

LO said she was overreacting, too afraid that something with „liberalš in its name was remotely associated with her. LO sarcastically argued:

Is [opponent Scott] Garrett really going to run some TV ad that says, „If Anne Sumers wasn‚t a left-wing anti-American subversive, then why is she endorsed by the Saddam-lovers at LiberalOasis?!š

LO is perfectly aware of how low politicians can go, but it just seemed implausible that a campaign would try to saddle a candidate with every little thing posted on a website with which she has no involvement.

How wrong we were.

LO was not aware of this lovely screed of a news release by Garrett:

The REAL Anne Sumers Website Exposes More Truths About her Liberal Agenda

Committed to „reclaim the good name of liberals,š Anne Sumers has been supported by, a radical left wing web site that „believes in paying taxes happily.š

„You can‚t just make stuff like this up. The fact that this group believes in paying taxes happily goes to show how out of step Ms. Sumers is with the residents of the 5th District,š stated Evan Kozlow, campaign manager for Scott Garrett.

LiberalOasis is a website committed to electing Liberal Democrats. The website accepts donations for liberal candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate, and President.∑

„ is supporting Ms. Sumers for ONE REASON - She‚s a liberal∑,š stated∑Kozlow∑

„Apparently, she sees this website as an ‚under the radar‚ opportunity to further her liberal agenda while pretending to be a conservative to the people of the Fifth District∑This website continues to expose the extremist views of Ms. Sumers∑,š stated Kozlow.

LO has four main points in response:

1) Garrett is a liar.

LO is not supporting Sumers because of her ideology, which is not pure liberalism. LO supports Sumers so Democrats can take over the House.

Nowhere on LO does it state that only liberal candidates get the site‚s support. In fact, it has been explicitly stated (specifically relating to Ron Kirk) that there often are scenarios where it makes sense to support Democratic moderates.

Also, the website does not accept donations at all. It only provides links to campaign web sites.

And most importantly, Sumers has no involvement in the site, despite Garrett‚s implication. LO‚s positions are not necessarily Sumers‚ positions.

For example, Sumers supports a constitutional amendment that would require a 2/3 supermajority in Congress to raise taxes. LO believes that‚s a great way to permanently screw up the federal budget.

2) Garrett does not believe in supporting America

While Sumers supports low taxes, Garrett apparently does not believe in paying taxes at all, as he mocked LO‚s assertion that we should all pay taxes happily (see the Manifesto).

So if Garrett does not support paying taxes, does he believe in tax evasion?

How is it patriotic for Garrett to not financially support his own government?

Does Garrett not like paying for all those shiny new weapons we need to take out Saddam?

3) Sumers is still being wimpy

It was wrong of LO to imply on September 4 that Sumers‚ team was being paranoid by asking LO to delete any links to her, as it is now clear they were merely reacting to Garrett‚s release.

But it is still lame and unnecessary.

As it stands, it‚s just a news release on a campaign web site. No newspaper (to LO‚s knowledge) has picked up the „story.š It‚s merely dust in the wind. The sensible reaction for the moment is no reaction.

(As the old saying goes, „Don‚t wrestle with a pig, because you get dirty and the pig likes it.š)

But since Garrett has proven himself a hysterical liar, Sumers probably has a legit fear that the same material could be used in an ad. That would necessitate some sort of response.

However, asking LO to drop the link doesn‚t prevent an ad from airing.

If an ad was aired, all Sumers needs to do is say:

I am only responsible for what is on my own web site. Scott Garrett can‚t make a credible attack against me based on the positions expressed on my site, so he‚s decided to surf the web, find somebody else‚s positions, and use them to launch phony negative attacks against me.

Sumers would be on the high road, Garrett would look like an idiot.

4) Using „liberalš as an insult is not necessarily smart politics

As LO said before, there‚s nothing wrong with Sumers running as a moderate. It is her right to describe herself as she pleases, and her views Ų a mix of the left and right Ų can be accurately generalized as moderate.

And also as mentioned before, the congressional district in play leans Republican, so it is understandable that Sumers wants to avoid being labeled a liberal.

But it‚s dumb politics by Garrett to simply throw around the word „liberalš as if it is damning in and of itself.

It might work if he could hang "liberal" on any sort of viewpoint of Sumers that was out of the mainstream.

For example, when Poppy Bush smeared Mike Dukakis in 1988, he didn‚t just call him a liberal. He tied liberalism to Dukakis‚ policies on crime and on the first amendment.

In a distorted fashion of course, but still based on Dukakis‚ record.

But Sumers isn‚t giving Garrett that kind of ammo.

Sumers is liberal on abortion rights. So is the Republican congresswoman they‚re both running to replace.

Sumers is liberal on the environment. New Jersey voters are known for their green sensibilities.

Sumers is liberal on supporting funding for public schools. Garrrett claims to support public schools too (you crazy socialist).

And Sumers‚ views on defense and taxes are downright conservative.

Since Garrett can‚t paint Sumers as a lefty extremist based on her actual positions, he has to lie.

Garrett could make lies stick if he had a massive money advantage over Sumers, giving him a louder megaphone. But that does not appear to be the case.

Sumers may be a little weak in her treatment of LO, but Garrett is a serious wingnut. Send this woman some money STAT!

Anne Sumers for Congress
P.O. Box 642
Paramus, New Jersey 07653-0642

Does Washington Post‚s Dana Milbank read LiberalOasis?
(posted September 6 1 AM ET)

Yesterday Dana Milbank reported that John Ashcroft nominated a woman who is opposed to the Violence Against Women Act to a government advisory board involved with implementing that law.

LiberalOasis nailed that story on Tuesday, scroll down to the Sept. 3 column.


BIG, BIG THANKS TO Eric Alterman for adding LiberalOasis to the Bookmarks section of Altercation, to Jeralyn at Talk Left for supervising the vote tally, and, most importantly, to all the readers who took the time to plug LiberalOasis.


September 5, 2002
Reno vs. McBride?

Don’t Stress. Both Can Win.
(posted September 5 12:15 AM ET)

In the Florida Dem primary for governor, Bill McBride’s campaign is clicking, partly because some Dems think Janet Reno can’t beat Jeb Bush and McBride’s their best shot.

There’s a potential problem with this line of reasoning.

Reno may still get the nomination. Then all of the “Reno can’t win” chatter could become self-fulfilling.

The general election will be a dogfight for whoever wins the nod.

And whether it's Reno, McBride, or longshot Daryl Jones (the most articulate candidate, but short on cash and media love), the winner needs a strong start right out of the box.

The nominee will need quick money from Dem donors and passionate volunteers to stoke the grassroots. That won’t happen if many are convinced the nominee is a sure loser.

And Reno isn’t a sure loser.

It certainly seems that if the election were today, McBride would be stronger versus Big Bro.

One poll puts Bush only one percentage point ahead of McBride, while Reno trails by 16. Another has McBride behind 12, and Reno behind 19.

But the election isn’t today.

McBride is surging because he’s a fresh face that’s spending a lot of money, much more than Reno.

But fresh faces are risky faces. They always look good before the opposition -- and, often, the media -- starts dumping on them.

And as Jeb Bush stupidly noted on the record, his early attack ads against McBride are raising his negatives.

Reno, on other hand, has been through the wringer. It is doubtful that there is any fresh dirt to dig up. Many Floridians have already well-formed opinions about her, both good and bad.

A Reno-Bush race would arouse passion on all sides, and the early polling may not be as relevant as how good the get-out-the-vote organizations are.

This is not to say that McBride is a bad choice that can’t win. He has a well-run, well-financed campaign, especially considering he has no political experience. He has a genial, if bland, demeanor that is inviting.

McBride is racking up the newspaper endorsements, in part because he has a more specific plan to fund his education goals. (Though his plan is based on a tax hike on cigarettes that would hit the poor the hardest.)

Most importantly, he has more potential appeal to the conservative rural Dems in the Panhandle than Reno has. (McBride and Reno have no significant policy differences, but Reno is perceived to be a liberal and McBride a centrist).

But Reno has her strong points too.

She has star quality and a unique low-key charisma. She boasts far more experience in public service. Her base of seniors and African-Americans is potent.

She has a plausible general election strategy too, according to FSU professor Lance deHaven-Smith:

Al Gore did terribly in the Panhandle, but if you count all the votes, he won the state election - which means you can win without those guys. That's why Reno is saying, "Hey, I'll generate sufficient turnout to win" in South Florida.

So if you want the Dems to be in the best position after the primary, let the contest play out on its own, and get behind the winner right quick.

Is Tony Blair Still on the Fence?

Last week, LiberalOasis suggested that Tony Blair was the last, best chance to stop a war in Iraq, and so any grassroots activism should be directed at him.

Then on Tuesday, Blair tried to make nice with Bush, and got lots of headlines implying that his Iraq policy was in sync with the U.S.

So should you still send that anti-war letter to Blair? Yup.

Despite the tone of Blair’s comments, the substance gave himself massive wiggle room.

Either the regime starts to function in a completely different way, or the regime changes.

That’s not exactly a policy of “regime change.” That says Saddam has a chance to shape up.

[Iraq has] a complete and total obligation to let the weapons inspectors back in any time, any place, anywhere. They've had that obligation for 10 years. It's there in the United Nations resolutions. It doesn't need to be negotiated.

That puts Blair at odds with Cheney, who said weapons inspectors were pointless.

Blair’s not in the pro-war camp yet, there’s still time.

September 4, 2002
Do Liberals Have Cooties?

(posted September 3 11:45 PM ET)

As you may know, on the bottom-right of this page are links to the contribution pages of web sites of Democrats in competitive congressional races.

Last week, the campaign manager for Anne Sumers, New Jersey Democratic congressional candidate, called LiberalOasis to have her link removed, apparently because any association with the word “liberal” was not to be tolerated.

Needless to say, LiberalOasis is a little ticked.

Now, it’s understandable that Sumers doesn’t want to be tagged as a liberal.

She’s running to replace a moderate Republican, Marge Roukema, who is retiring. In fact, Sumers was a Republican who supported Roukema, until she pulled a Bloomberg and switched parties for this race.

The district leans Republican. It supported Bush (51%) over Gore (45%) and Nader (3%), as well as the conservative Bret Schundler (52%) over Jim McGreevey (47%) for NJ Governor last year.

And she’s running against the right-wing Scott Garrett, who could not be called a “compassionate” conservative. He was the only state Assemblyman to vote against mandating HMOs to cover mammograms.

So Sumers wants the contest to be the moderate versus the wingnut. Fine. LiberalOasis has no problem with that. Considering the district, it’s smart politics.

But it’s sad, lame, weird politics (not to mention a waste of time) to prevent anything with the word “liberal” from being remotely connected to her.

What is she afraid of? Is “liberal” on par with “NAMBLA member” or “Holocaust denier” or “OJ Simpson supporter”?

Is Garrett really going to run some TV ad that says, “If Anne Sumers wasn’t a left-wing anti-American subversive, then why is she endorsed by the Saddam-lovers at LiberalOasis?!”

Sumers is perfectly happy to accept endorsements from other organizations that could be described as liberal: Planned Parenthood, NARAL, Human Rights Campaign, Sierra Club, Committee for a Livable Future, AFL-CIO.

But something with the word “liberal” in the name? Even though it’s just a frickin’ website?! Yucky, says Sumers, go away.

It’s just doesn’t make any sense. All LiberalOasis tried to do is GIVE HER MONEY.

LiberalOasis says, “Guess what, Sumers. There are liberals in New Jersey. There are liberals in your district. There may even be liberals on your very own campaign staff.

“And every liberal in your district is going to vote for you. You don’t have lick their faces in public, but you best be thankful.”

Sumers may not want help from LiberalOasis, but too bad. She'll be getting a little check with a note that says “Another Liberal For Anne Sumers.”

If you want to do the same, here’s the address:

Anne Sumers for Congress
P.O. Box 642
Paramus, New Jersey 07653-0642

And if you want to do it by credit card, here’s the link:

September 3, 2002
Want to Get the Women's Vote?

Why Not Trash the Violence Against Women Act
(posted September 3 1 AM ET)

Here’s a great way to score the women’s vote.

For the advisory board on the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act, John Ashcroft has appointed the head of an organization which denies that domestic violence is a serious national problem.

Nancy Pfotenhauer, the president of the Independent Women’s Forum, was nominated to the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women, co-chaired by the Justice Department and the Health and Human Services Department.

Ever since VAWA was proposed, IWF has questioned the need for any legislation that aims to protect women from abuse.

You might ask yourself, how can any person, let alone a woman, be against a law that funds:

-- battered women’s shelters
-- rape crisis centers
-- a national domestic violence hotline
-- training for judges, prosecutors and police officers on how to handle domestic violence cases

Yet such cruel people exist. What could their justification be?

IWF sets up irrelevant statistical comparisons to make their case. In the article tastefully titled “Violence Against Taxpayers,” IWF noted:

Federal statistics also show that women are 40% less likely than men to be victims of violent crime, and that domestic violence is not nearly the greatest source of violent crime facing women.

In fact, lovers, husbands and ex-husbands together account for about 18% of criminal attacks against women (husbands account for only 2%).

Similarly, in 2000, IWF filed a legal brief to the Supreme Court seeking to gut some of VAWA’s provisions that questioned the law’s necessity, noting “most violent crime is committed by men, against men.”

Bottom line: so what? This is case where even if these percentages are true, it just doesn’t matter.

The fact is domestic violence happens, a lot. To 1.3 million women each year.

Other things might happen more, but that simply means there’s more than one problem in the world.

Domestic violence requires a different approach and a different support structure than other types of crimes. Hence, the need for VAWA.

Authorities don’t always take charges of domestic violence seriously. That’s why trainings are needed.

Abused women need safe spaces, so it will be easier to escape abusers. That’s why shelters, hotlines and crisis centers need financial support.

But IWF ignores all of this. Here’s IWF in 1995:

The Violence Against Women Act will do nothing to protect women from crime. It will, though, perpetuate false information, waste money and urge vulnerable women to mistrust all men.

And in 2000:

Since its passage in 1994, we have been warning that VAWA is not helpful to assault victims, and it has produced harmful effects on women and families... We could scrap VAWA and start over, and nothing would be lost.

(IWF backs up its charges of the harm VAWA inflicts by citing nobody but its own “Science Fellow.”)

Pfotenhauer and IWF have a right to their views. And they have the right to challenge laws in court. Conservatives (with the help of the Bush v. Gore 5) did successfully overturn the part of VAWA that allowed victims of violence to sue in federal court.

But the bulk of VAWA that survived court challenge is still the law. And in a democracy, the law is the manifestation of the voice of the people.

This is a good example of what happens when leaders are not elected by the people. Unelected leaders are quite happy to appoint officials that are hostile to democratically produced laws.

The people normally would expect that political appointees would implement laws in good faith, but clearly, that is not the case today.

Thanks to Dubya and Ashcroft, the head of IWF – an appalling, miserable organization – will be on the front lines, shaping federal policy on violence against women.

But don’t expect to see Nancy Pfotenhauer in any “W is for Women” ads in 2004.


A reader wrote in with some additional info regarding yesterday's post, where LiberalOasis spelled out how Rep. Tom Davis (R-vA) lied about Dem and GOP views on Social Security privatization.

As noted yesterday, Davis tried to claim that "205 Democrats" voted to praise Dubya's pro-privatization Social Security commission, distorting the language in a House resolution.

The reader pointed out that last year, Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) offered an amendment, which was defeated, that would have prevented funds from being spent on implementing the conclusions of the commission.

187 Democrats supported the amendment, whereas every Republican plus 20 Dems did not.

September 2, 2002
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown

A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted September 2 2:30 AM ET)

While politicians often distort, fudge and flip-flop, it’s still rare to see a politician lie so completely and so brazenly that you’re simply dumbfounded.

On NBC’s Meet The Press yesterday, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) did just that on the subject of Social Security, and no one called him on it.

Not Tim Russert. Not even his Dem counterpart Rep. Nita Lowey.

Russert asked Davis:

Is, as the President would say ‘private accounts for Social Security,’ the Democrats would say ‘privatization of Social Security,’ is that an Achilles Heel, potentially for the Republicans?

Davis responded:

Not really because when you take a look at Democratic candidates in vulnerable seats – people like Jim Maloney, Jim Matheson, Karen Thurman, Dennis Moore – they have all supported these private accounts from time to time, because President Clinton embraced it at one point as you recall...

Soon after, Russert followed-up:

Has the decline in the stock market made it more difficult for Republicans to defend their position?

Davis responded:

Well it’s not the Republican position. Remember this came out of a commission headed by [former Democratic] Senator Dan Moynihan…It’s been embraced by a number of Democratic candidates – Earl Pomeroy in North Dakota – have [sic] supported these private accounts from time to time…

This is something that comes out of a bipartisan commission that the President established and 205 Democrats voted to praise.

Except for the Moynihan part, this is a string of lies. Let’s break it down.

DAVIS: “Jim Maloney, Jim Matheson, Karen Thurman, Dennis Moore [and Earl Pomeroy] – they have all supported these private accounts from time to time”

Here’s Maloney's response to a Cato Institute questionnaire in 2000:

…I oppose establishing risky private accounts, increasing taxes on benefits, means-testing, or raising the retirement age. I do support creating savings incentives in private accounts as a supplement to Social Security.

The key words are “as a supplement to.”

What’s wrong with the GOP privatization plan is that the private accounts are created by diverting money that would have otherwise gone to the trust fund. That guts the trust fund and takes the “Security” out of “Social Security.”

What Maloney is talking about is in line with Al Gore’s “Social Security Plus” proposal, which would create private accounts in addition to Social Security, but would not take any money away from Social Security.

This is Pomeroy at a 1998 Concord Coalition event:

There are a number of measures that I'm excited to contemplate and pursue, including investment of part of the trust funds in the stock market.

This would have the benefit of bringing the system greater investment return but shielding individuals from the risks of loss should they not make those investment decisions wisely.

This position is completely different than individual private accounts. Pomeroy is proposing that the government take a part of the overall trust fund and put it in the stock market.

Similarly, Jim Matheson, according to, "favors managing Social Security like a pension or insurance fund allowing investment in higher-yield assets beyond government bonds, but not individual accounts."

If Pomeroy wasn’t clear enough, his 1999 position paper said:

While some say the way to pursue higher investment returns for the Social Security program is to create individual private accounts, closer scrutiny reveals individuals would face increased risk without the guarantees of the current program.

Karen Thurman signed a letter that said:

...if Social Security became privatized, older women would have less money, and would face the grim possibility of surviving without a financial safety net in their later years.

And all Dennis Moore did was propose increasing the maximum amount people could put in an IRA each year, something wholly separate from Social Security, and said in support of his proposal, “What we should be trying to do is to encourage people to establish private retirement accounts and help them take pressure off the Social Security system.”

DAVIS: “President Clinton embraced it at one point”

No, Clinton proposed what Pomeroy and Matheson talked about, investing some of the trust fund in the stock market. In fact, the conservative Citizens for a Sound Economy lambasted Clinton for not proposing individual accounts.

DAVIS: “This is something that comes out of a bipartisan commission that the President established and 205 Democrats voted to praise.”

While it is technically true that Bush’s Social Security commission was “bipartisan,” including nine non-elected Dems who stray from the party line on this issue, the notion that 205 Democrats voted to praise the body is misleading.

Davis is referring to this toothless, perfunctory House resolution (H. CON. RES. 282), which received 205 Democratic votes, and says:

The President should be commended for … establishing the bipartisan President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, which will report its recommendations this fall.

It wasn’t praising anything that the Commission endorsed. The House only said it was a good idea to form the Commission.

DAVIS: “Well it’s not the Republican position”

The biggest and most pathetic lie of them all. Fortunately, it’s also the easiest to disprove.

Here’s what the 2000 Republican platform said about Social Security.

Here’s what Ari Fleischer said on the subject six weeks ago.

‘nuff said.

It’s not surprising that the GOP realizes it has to run away from privatization in order to salvage the 2002 elections. Talking Points Memo recently uncovered the National Republican Congressional Committee study that told candidates how deadly the issue had become.

The head of the NRCC? Tom Davis.

The Sandbox
Humor by John Cougarstein

Another installment of…

Ask Colin Powell
Advice from the mouth of success

Dear Colin,

I’m a top executive at my company, and I’m paid well, but it’s clear that the CEO could care less about my opinions. He never acts on my recommendations. The other executives publicly contradict me at staff meetings. I don’t even get invited to play golf with the CEO like the other executives do.

I’m feeling like my life isn’t amounting to very much, what should I do?

Disrespected in Durham

Dear Disrespected,

You’re missing the benefits of your situation. While your fellow executives have to fall all over themselves to curry favor from the CEO, you can skip off to the Hamptons for a little white wine and R&R. Yet you all get the same paycheck at the end of day. It’s a beautiful life.

Dear Colin,

I work for a men’s magazine and I’m concerned about our prospects. The editor-in-chief fell in love with a feminist, and now he’s refusing to put on the cover scantily clad 19-year-olds from WB and UPN TV shows.

Everyone in the industry knows that’s our bread and butter, but he fired his old inner circle and replaced them with disciples of Andrea Dworkin. There’s no talking to them. What can I do to stop this?

Nervous in New York

Dear Nervous,

When you’re the odd man out in a situation, the best tactic is something I call “Just Look Away.”

By looking away from an impeding disaster, when disaster strikes, you’re not to blame. But if the improbable happens and disaster is averted, you can sneak in and take credit , since you wisely keep quiet before. It’s a win-win!

Dear Colin,

What was funnier? Eddie Murphy’s “The Adventures of Pluto Nash,” or Martin Lawrence’s “RunTelDat.”

Indecisive in Ithaca

Dear Indecisive,

First off, I do not see every movie that stars an African-American. And second, neither film holds a candle to Booty Call.

For more Cougarstein, check out The Cougarstein Ramble and download Cougarstein songs at


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Free Speech Radio

Meria Heller

New Black City

Radio Free Exile

Radio Left

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Americans for Democratic Action

People For the American Way

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State

A Prayer For America


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Tom Harkin (IA)

Mary Landrieu (LA)

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Paul Wellstone (MN)

Jean Carnahan (MO)

Max Baucus (MT)

Jeanne Shaheen (NH)

Bob Torricelli (NJ)

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Tim Johnson (SD)

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Al Gore

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Dick Gephardt

Even More Gore

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