George Clooney: Actor. Middle-aged heartthrob. Political power broker?
The actor has been funneling campaign contributions from an A-list of Hollywood celebrities into an obscure congressional district in Kentucky, where his father, Nick Clooney, a Democrat, is running for Congress.
The donations, first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, come from a number of well-known actors (Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, Kevin Costner, Adrien Brody) and other celebrities working behind the cameras (director Steven Soderbergh, producers Harvey Weinstein and Jerry Weintraub). His contributors' top Zip codes? 41017 (Fort Mitchell, Ky.), followed by 90212 (Beverly Hills, Calif.), 90064 (Los Angeles) and 90049 (Los Angeles).
In all, 64 percent of Clooney's campaign war chest has come from out of state, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The elder Clooney, a former television anchorman in Cincinnati, is hoping to succeed Rep. Ken Lucas (D), who is retiring after three terms. The district, which is just south of the Ohio River, is generally considered Republican country. But the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan analysis of congressional races, considers the race a "tossup."
A spokesman for Geoff Davis, a Republican who is also vying for the seat, denounced the celebrities' money, saying the donors do not represent the district. "There's a vast difference in what his Hollywood supporters expect a congressman to be and what the people of the 4th District of Kentucky want in their congressman," Justin Brasell said.
No Taste for Senate Medicine
First he rode the bus to Canada with Minnesota seniors. Then he decided to donate his Senate salary to subsidize those "drug-running" trips. Now Democrat Mark Dayton has dropped the generous prescription drug benefit his Senate health insurance provides.
"I felt honor bound to practice what I preach," Dayton said, explaining his unconventional decision to give up nearly $3,000 worth of medicine. "Like a lot of Americans who don't have insurance or don't have prescription drug coverage, I'm going to go to the drugstore and pay cash for my prescriptions."
Dayton opposed the Medicare drug package, which will not be fully implemented until 2006, and he continues to rail against his colleagues for giving themselves better health insurance than 40 million senior and disabled beneficiaries. The Senate voted 93 to 3 in favor of his "Taste of Our Own Medicine" amendment, which would have put seniors on par with lawmakers. But they did so, Dayton contends, after being promised it would be stripped from the final law.
Complaining that Washington politicians are "insulated" from the challenges average Americans face, the multimillionaire senator said: "If we had to go through what seniors are going through now around the country, we wouldn't be waiting until January 2006 for the program to kick in."
Dayton, heir to the Dayton Hudson department store fortune, declined to identify which medications he takes. If this move doesn't cause enough of a stir, he said he may be back on the bus.
Duke's 'Leadership Conference'
Fresh out of prison for bilking supporters, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke hosted a gathering Memorial Day weekend of enthusiastic backers eager to hear him as he lashed out at Jews, blacks, immigrants and the "Zionist-controlled media."
About 250 of them chanted "Duke! Duke!" as he took the stage during his "unity and leadership conference" in Kenner, La. None cared that he had just served time for swindling contributors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a direct-mail scheme.
In his speech, the Associated Press reported, Duke criticized President Bush and his administration as pawns of Israel and betrayers of the white race. However, Duke repeatedly warned those in the audience to not allow themselves to be characterized as white supremacists and racists, and to carefully pick the words that describe themselves and the "white civil rights cause."
Staff writer Ceci Connolly contributed to this report.