Judicial Watch: Bush wins (again)

Kinsley vs. O'Reilly continues. Plus: Fox News pundit Tony Snow is yanked from GOP site.

Published March 22, 2001 11:36PM (EST)


Andrew Sullivan.com: "Does Bill Kristol Like the Taliban?"
Opinion Journal: "Is McCain Gearing Up to Run for President in 2004?"
Michael Kinsley: Kinsley vs. O'Reilly, Part 3 -- "The Mystery of the Departing Guests"
Modern Humorist: "After the Cliché Rush"
WorldNet Daily: "The Temple Mount Dilemma"
Kausfiles: "Will Sex Save Bill Clinton?"
BuzzFlash.com: "Bush Budget Will Leave Many Children Behind!"

Big buzz

The Associated Press reports that Judicial Watch says it has completed its recount of the Florida ballots, and the results are in. "Judicial Watch President Thomas Fitton said the study of ballots picked large counties that accounted for 70 percent of the undercounted ballots where no vote was recorded by machines," the AP reports. "He said it showed Bush would have picked up at least 107 votes more than Gore in six counties, enough to maintain his lead despite Al Gore's gains in two Democratic leaning counties." But the Judicial Watch probe looked only at disputed ballots in eight of the state's 67 counties.

A release on the Judicial Watch Web site states: "Of primary importance is that, after analyzing 42,724 of the 62,605 ballots reported as undervotes in Florida, it is the stated view of the independent accounting firm that a statewide recount of the Florida undervotes would not have changed the outcome of the presidential election."

A rare liberal poster at Lucianne.com shows that no matter what the results of the subsequent recounts, the perception of who won the election will continue to break along partisan lines. "That he'll be president isn't in doubt since Uncle Tony appointed him. What is in doubt is if he actually got more votes than Gore in Florida. We already know that he didn't in the rest of the country. Judicial Watch, as always, is a laugh. We'll see what the impartial recounts disclose."

But the following post was more indicative of others in the thread: "Yes, be comforted by the fact that your hero Al Gore won more votes nationwide than Bush. Keep focusing on the past. Meanwhile, Bush is cleaning your party's clock on a regular basis. Check out those approval ratings. Not too shabby for an 'illegitimate' president, eh?"

The ongoing media recount, meanwhile, shows a pretty substantial Gore gain (see below).

Florida: The Running Tally

The official, certified, Supreme Court-approved presidential Florida vote tally gave George W. Bush the state -- and the election -- by a mere 537 votes. But a number of newspapers have begun recounting those contested ballots, scrutinizing the overvotes (those with more than one punch per race) and undervotes (with all of their dimples and hanging chads), and coming up with their own totals. Some newspapers have formed consortiums (the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press are one; the Miami Herald, USA Today and Knight Ridder are the other) and will be releasing their findings within a month.

But early results are trickling in, bringing bittersweet good news for Al Gore. Though reaching one final number is difficult because different papers came up with different vote tallies in reviewing Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, one thing is clear: Gore would have gained anywhere from 7,658 to 7,800 votes in a statewide recount of overvotes and undervotes, more than enough to wipe out Bush's 537-vote advantage. Even using only undervotes, Gore would have picked up anywhere from 850 to 960 votes depending on which paper's numbers were used, still enough to carry Florida.

Here's a guide to the recounts, per county. The newspaper doing the recount is noted in parentheses:

Bradford County over- and undervotes: Gore +4 (Orlando Sentinel)
Charlotte County over- and undervotes: Gore +30 (OS)
Collier County undervotes: Bush +226 (Naples Daily News)
Franklin County over- and undervotes: Gore +3 (OS)
Gadsden County over- and undervotes: Gore +16 (OS)
Gulf County over- and undervotes: Gore +5 (OS)
Hamilton County over- and undervotes: Gore +2 (OS)
Hendry County over- and undervotes: Gore +4 (OS)
Hillsborough County undervotes (includes dimples): Gore +120 (Tampa Tribune)
Jackson County over- and undervotes: Gore +12 (OS)
Lafayette County over- and undervotes: Gore +1 (OS)
Lake County over- and undervotes: Gore +121 (OS)
Levy County over- and undervotes: Bush +2 (OS)
Miami-Dade County undervotes: Gore +49 (Miami Herald consortium)
Miami-Dade undervotes: Bush +6 (Palm Beach Post)
Okeechobee County over- and undervotes: Gore +25 (OS)
Orange County undervotes: Gore +203 (MH)
Osceola County undervotes: Gore +25 (OS)
Palm Beach overvotes: Gore +6,600 (PBP)
Palm Beach County undervotes (includes dimples): Gore +682 (PBP)
Palm Beach undervotes: Gore +784 (OS)
Seminole County undervotes: Gore +13 (OS)
Suwannee County over- and undervotes: Gore +5 (OS)
Taylor County over- and undervotes: Gore +9 (OS)

Ongoing totals, by newspaper, with revised running total in parentheses:
Naples Daily News (Collier County only): Bush +226 (Bush +763)
Tampa Times (Hillsborough County): Gore +120 (Bush +417)
Miami Herald (Miami-Dade County): Gore +49 (Bush +488)
Palm Beach Post under- and overvotes (Palm Beach County): Gore +7,288 (Gore +6,751)
Palm Beach Post undervotes only (Palm Beach County): Gore +682 (Gore +151)
Orlando Sentinel: 1,264 (Gore +727)

Submit your own rant or direct us to a good political online discussion by e-mailing us at redvsblue@salon.com, or jump right into a Table Talk discussion.

Anger management

Writing in the New Republic, James Cramer questions who is at the economic reins as the economy continues its downward spiral. "Wow, could we use a call from [former Treasury Secretaries Robert] Rubin or [Larry] Summers now. But one is in private practice and the other is off to head Harvard. Instead we have a Bush-led team -- the so-called CEO team -- that seems absolutely clueless about the sudden downturn in the economy and is, in fact, hastening it with its stony silence and matter-of-factness."

The Bush loyalists among the posters at the Free Republic shrugged off the article as pedantic Bush-bashing.

"We could predict that this kind of article would be appearing after Bush was inaugurated, no matter what the economic conditions. I don't need a cheerleading squad in Washington, I just want lower tax rates so that there is less government regulation being funded by our tax dollars to do what they do best, which is to get in your way. I think of government as an umpire which just keeps getting in the way when you are rounding the bases after hitting a home run. I don't want the umpire to get in your way and lead the crowd in cheering for you, I just want it to get out of the way period."

Over on Table Talk, support for the Gephardt-Daschle line -- that Bush intentionally talked the nation into an economic downturn simply to pass his tax cut -- continues. "The domestic economy is cause for concern. People are definitely starting to wonder what is going on here, how an economy could go into the tank so fast without any particular reason other than federal manipulation of the economy for whatever motive. The issue of the role of the central bankers in the economy has resurfaced."

McAuliffe: Pennsylvania race is a practice run" [AP]
Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe is viewing a special election in the Pennsylvania state Senate as a practice run for Democratic ground troops. "McAuliffe poured dozens of staffers, poll watchers and money for phone banks into a special Pennsylvania Senate election earlier this week."

"We're in full campaign mode, and we won't stop until we see a Democrat win the White House in 2004," McAuliffe told the AP.

The Freepers seem unimpressed. "The only thing McAuliffe is going to see in 2004 is a jail cell," writes one. Others are also adopting a bunker mentality. "It will be an internet driven war with the DNC and thru the use of computers and their web site Democrats.com. Believe me, Freepers are their target. Watch this story as it unfolds."

Democrats.com is not the official DNC Web site, but it is perhaps the most aggressive Democratic news and bulletin board site on the Web, one of the few answers Democrats have to the Free Republic and Lucianne.com. The rivalry between Democrats.com and the Free Republic is evident from a quick glance at both sites. One Democrats.com posting, complete with pictures from the Free Republic's "Million Shot March," asks: "Have you ever wondered what a freeper actually looks like? Wonder no more! They look just about the way you'd expect -- like Rush Limbaugh, only meaner."

Somehow, I don't think that was meant as a compliment.

Snow nixed from GOP site

All week, chat rooms and political Web sites have been abuzz with the dust-up between Tony Snow and his employer, Fox News. Snow, a frequent guest host for Rush Limbaugh's radio show and a former aide to Newt Gingrich, was criticized for writing a column for the conservative Web site GOPUSA.com. His bosses seem to think it compromises Fox's objectivity.

That's funny, the Freepers don't seem to think he's conservative enough. "I don't see what the problem is," writes one. "As a matter of fact, I routinely turn off Special Report when he is sitting in for [Brit] Hume as I find him to be a pansy."

"When he sits in for Limbaugh he makes me want to poke my eyes out," writes another.

One poster, using the handle "Reagan Man," was disappointed in the tone of the Free Republic thread. "I suppose you are both right," he writes of the two previous posters. "However, it is weird to (once again) watch conservatives eat their own."

Snow refused to give up the column, and received kudos from National Review Online columnist Dave Shiflett for standing strong. "Snow, at least at this writing, has refused to drop the column. Three cheers for his stiff neck. And a big leg-hike in the direction of his dopey bosses," he writes. "There are very few Americans who believe journalists are objective, and the ones who do don't watch Fox."

But as in most things, Rupert Murdoch and the boys had the last word. GOPUSA's Robert Eberle posted this notice on the Free Republic site that Fox had indeed pulled the plug: "The syndicator who supplies us with Tony Snow's column called me and told me that they would no longer be able to provide it to us. Fox News called them up and put the hammer down on this type of political involvement."

"I spoke with Tony Snow twice during the last couple of days, and he is a great person to deal with. Please note that the problem was between Fox and the syndicator, and we at GOPUSA.com remain big fans of Tony Snow. So, we'll be bringing Thomas Sowell on board as a replacement."

By Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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