Morning Political Note: Jan. 28

Mr. Kurtz summarizes in the Washington Post: "More journalists who got Enron cash are struggling to explain themselves. Lawrence Kudlow, a National Review contributing editor and co-host of CNBC's America Now, disclosed last week that he'd gotten $50,000 from Enron — two $15,000 speaking fees and a $20,000 subscription to his New York economic research firm … Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, was paid $100,000 for serving on an Enron advisory board over two years. In November, the Standard disclosed his service in a largely positive article about Enron by contributing editor Irwin Stelzer, who served on the same advisory board, which was assembled by former CEO Kenneth Lay … Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan … got $25,000 to $50,000 for helping Lay with a speech and annual report … New York Times columnist Paul Krugman … got $50,000 from the Enron advisory board." ( )

Legislative Agenda

The Wall Street Journal looks at the politics (with some substance thrown in for good measure) of the president's troubled prescription drug discount card plan, saying it might get a push in the SOTU.

We'll keep saying it as long as the announcements keep trickling out: there's a lot of regulating and de-regulating activity going on within the administration on environmental matters, some of which must be politically important, but it's kind of hard to keep track. "The Bush administration will ask Congress for $21 million for fiscal 2003 to create a new program within the Environmental Protection Agency aimed at restoring pollution-damaged streams and rivers," the Washington Post reports. "With the new program, the agency plans to choose 10 watersheds that deserve more protection through grants to states, tribes and local communities, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman said last week" in an interview. ( )

ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary

One of Dick Gephardt's top aides is doing some expectations-setting of his own, regarding his boss' SOTU response: "'It's hard to compete with a guy in front of a cheering audience and standing ovations talking about a subject in which there is virtual partisan unanimity," said Steve Elmendorf, chief of staff to Representative Richard A. Gephardt … 'The president is at 85 percent popularity. Give me an example of a State of the Union over the last 20 years that the president has not used successfully.'" ( )

"As a result, Mr. Elmendorf said, Mr. Gephardt's speech would — albeit gingerly — raise questions about the nation's economic security and 'focus more on the real differences between Bush and the more extreme elements in the Republican Congress.'"

Hey, we still think the Rams play in Los Angeles, and we couldn't locate Foxboro on a map if you paid us, but we should point out that we expect a fried-ravioli-for-lobster (or, Dad's-cookies-for-bad-pizza) bet between wannabes Gephardt and Kerry. ( for (

As during his gab with Russert on Sunday, Gephardt didn't commit any news at his Monitor Breakfast (as the former Sperling functions now are called) last Friday, either, but here's the link to some excerpts, for the curious. ( )

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