GOOD NEWS: It's raining on the fertilizer I spread yesterday on what's left of the lawn. I will not have to water it. Bad news: David Broder has confused Jimmy Carter's campaign position on natural gas (sometimes pro-decontrol) with Carter's position on crude oil (always anti-decontrol.)
Sunday is burdened by reading at least the news, editorial and business sections of three papers. It is part of my task to glean intelligence, correct mistakes and provide grist for the media mill.
Time to troop my family to McDonald's for breakfast. Now that George McGovern says it's a nutritious place to eat, we can go with clear conscience. To Hechinger's to browse, buy azaleas, pansies. A customer with alighted cigarette nearly burns youngest. Where is Joe Califano when I need him?
Nap time for youngest. Off with oldest daughter to Chinese restaurant for all too infrequent father-daughter lunch with her friend and friend's father, a TV type. The girls see their own and each other's dads on TV-do they assume all fathers are on TV?
Lunch at a high-class law firm. We work on lawsuit to reform federal outer continental shelf oil and gas leasing system. Oil giants getting public's oil and gas for a pittance, keeping lion's share of rapid price rises.
Off to join in press conference organized by sister groups to blast away at decontrol. Our figures show that 1972-78 change in worker earnings was only 50 percent, while fuel oil costs are up 184 percent. I read anti-decontrol quotes from Carter campaign statements, Democratic
Nicest part of day: Our youngest starts talking in crib. I arrive to gleeful calls of "Dad-dy." She points to "bird-ie," "day-time," "dolly-y." The other daily special is that she says "wet". I change her diaper. She says "Mom-my sleep-ing," "sister sleeping" at full wolume. I serve juice. She picks up cup to look at bottom. Juice spills. She says "wet." I sponge. She says "wipe." I make egg. She eats, drinks, smiles.
Spell broken by Post Times "spec" stories on the president's coming energy speech. Both say a quick decontrol is centerpiece.
We release comment on stories on decontrol: "a fraud on the American people, huge price increases and no benefit." It's picked up by the wires and radio networks-two quickest avenues of public education.
Wires and networks beginpressing for numbers. What will this cost the average family? Energy Action's one-man research department, Ed Rothschild, and I quickly come up with conservative figure: Oil decontrol alone will cost average family $270 more in first year. Figure hits wires, used on Cronkite with attribution, next morning on "Today" without attribution.
I write letter to TV networks arguing that Republicans shouldn't get air time to respond to Carter speech since Carter is adopting Republican energy policy. I go to bed chuckling that something so droll can also be so logical.
After dropping off my 4-year-old at nursery school, I am forced to think about her school placement for September. I visit two schools, one private, one public, both impressive. Can it really matter where a 4-year-old goes?
First of many walks daily up three flights to office-my only regular exercise until outdoor tennis starts in earnest. We announce press briefing on letter to networks. Bad timing, poor turnout-therea's a conflicting energy press conference. Doestn't matter; I enjoyed writing it.
An 8 a.m. brainstorming breakfast downtown with key allies throws my morning chores on tired, pregnant wife. I don't know how she keeps up her pace.
At last minute, cnacelled appearance on "Panorama" is un-cancelled. Rush to Channel 5. Usual questions, usual answers, plus new numbers: $611 total extra cost per family of oil and natural gas next year. I try out bon mot that has been working its way into my head each time a White House staffer says to me, "Carter would ratrher be right than president." I suggest: "Carter would rather be wrong than president."
Three networks call in quick succession. Give them comment, including "rather be wrong," new numbers. Home for dinner, bathe girls. Back downtown to watch Carter's speech at radio network, do long discussion for national distribution in the morning. Then I do a phone-in to second radio network. Outraged by speech.
Home to watch news show, midnight ABC energy special. ABC has Lou Harris with quickie poll that appears to show public support for decontrol and Carter plan. Has to be wrong-all previous polls show strong public distaste for decontrol and use of price as the way to force conservation. Will check poll questions in the morning.
Up at 6 a.m. Just in time to pick up phone call from Holyoke, Mass., radio station before it wakes girls. Follow up with live-line on local news stration. Radio networks are waking people up all over the country with long comment I taped yesterday. CBS-TV morning news uses our numbers in detail, with attribution and graphics. Wall Street Journal uses our comment. Post uses "rather be wrong."
I ride to work with a prominent public interest lawyer who is trying to switch from 50-page treatises for experts to one-liners that will carry messages to the public. We commiserate and agree that law school didn't teach us this skill. After three years of trying, I have learned to talk in complete, 15-, 30- and 45-second pithy thoughts.
Get text of Harris poll questions. As expected, they were loaded, on the oreder of, "Do you support Carter plan which will increase supply, restrain demand, make us less dependent on OPEC, cure hemorrhoids, etc.?" I call ABC to complain about poll.
Press conference outside old Executive Office Building on way in to be briefed by Stu Eizenstat on plan. Consumer, labor types express outrage. Inside, Eizenstat filibusters, then tries to end meeting. I tell Stu this is the most cynical, dishonest political action I have seen, that the American people won't be fooled.
Back to the office to watch early local TV news. Morning interview, in which I throw up my hands in dismay, saying, "It's crazy!" Head for home drained, tired, looking forward to peace of Sabbath dinner with family, quiet weekend. But it's a three-network night with reactions to Carter plan. On "Washington Week in Review," A1 Hunt cites my letter to networks, but I am taking girls out of bath. The 10 o'clock news uses White House piece, but I am dozing. The 11 o'clock uses interview again. I collapse. CAPTION: Picture, James Flug, 40, is director and counsel of the Energy Action Educational Foundation, a group set up to do independent research and advocacy on energy issues from a consumer perspective. Flug, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., is a graduate of Harvard Law School and spent 61/2 years as a Senate aide and sbcommittee counsel.