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In the Loop

How to Sweep an Accusation Under the Rug

By Al Kamen
Monday, August 16, 2004; Page A15

And now, the winners in the In the Loop Carpetbagger Deflector contest. This was to help our Gaithersburg neighbor and new Illinois GOP Senate candidate, Alan Keyes, come up with a deft sound bite to overcome allegations that he is a carpetbagger.

He also needed a hand parrying churlish critics who dredged up his old criticism of carpetbagging Illinoisan Hillary Rodham Clinton when she ran for the Senate from New York. It was a "destruction of federalism," he said, that he certainly would not "imitate."

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The hundreds of e-mail entries -- including several dozen from Illinoisans -- generally grouped around a few themes: Polish sausage vs. crab cakes; Abraham Lincoln's being from Kentucky; Clinton; Osama and Obama; locks and "Keyes"; and spending time at O'Hare.

Our judges, Metropolitan Editor Robert Barnes and Reliable Source star Anne Schroeder, helped cull the entries, all certain to put this hypocrisy silliness to rest, down to the following winners in no particular order:

• "Emulating my president's service in the Air National Guard, my patriotic duty is to fly to wherever I can best serve my country." -- Robert B. Houston of Reston, who works in the Africa bureau at the State Department.

• " Peter Angelos blocked my efforts to run for anything in the D.C. area." -- Damon Thompson, who works for a public relations firm in Washington.

• "With growth in the Washington area the way it is, I'm just in the forefront of moving into the very outer suburbs. It's a long commute, sure, but for the great neighborhoods that Illinois offers, it's worth it." -- Tim O'Connor, a former Kansas City Star reporter now living in Kiev, Ukraine, where he has been running a media training center for the past seven years.

• "Alan Keyes -- representing the interest of all Illinoisans since, well, last Friday." -- Randall Harrison, who works for the Agriculture Department in Chicago.

• "I don't hear anyone complaining about Nomar coming from Boston to play shortstop. What's the diff?" -- submitted "on background" by a Senate Democratic aide.

• "I intend to walk in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln -- a man who was born outside of Illinois, moved to Illinois, ran for Senate and lost." -- Washington lawyer Eric Columbus. In that Lincolnesque theme, Adam Vaught, a third-year law student at Northern Illinois University, suggests: "All of my life I've wanted to run for the Senate in Illinois, just like Abraham Lincoln. That's why I talk about slavery every time I speak."

• "Comparing my decision to that of Senator Clinton ignores history and geography. Moving west in search of opportunity is an essential dynamic in our national heritage. It's a shame that those who accuse me of inconsistency don't share the values of Americans who honor the pioneer spirit." -- Donald A. Lash, executive director of a nonprofit organization in New York.

• "I'm going to live in the house Hillary Rodham grew up in, in Park Ridge. It was a Republican house then, and I will be a Republican senator living in it. The circle closes." -- Garry Jaffee, a retiree in Chicago.

• "Did I say federalism? I meant FedEx -- when you absolutely, positively have to get a black Republican overnight." -- Don Weitzman, a graduate student in British history at Berkeley.

• "I need to go where I can be heard, and I was told there is no noise in Illinois." -- Mike Boisvenue, chief of staff in the Coalition Provisional Authority inspector general's office in Baghdad.

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