Cox Stocks Take Big Knocks

Newport Republican still backpedaling on Chinese spies

Bitter, defeated former Congressman Bob Dornan managed to talk out of both sides of his big oral cavity on just about every issue. The Garden Grove Republican made gays and lesbians his political scapegoats yet kept Brian Bennett, a closeted homosexual, as his chief of staff and loyal traveling companion.

Now comes Representative Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach), who somehow maintains a hilariously undeserved reputation as a nonpartisan intellectual while remaining unwholesomely self-contradictory.

In an Oct. 3 opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times-owned Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, Cox blasted the Clinton administration for screwing up the espionage prosecution of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Wen Ho Lee. The case deserved a "legitimate prosecution for serious security violations," Cox wrote—before undergoing an apparent change of heart just two paragraphs later. In the span of a mere 31 words, Lee's prosecution became "un-American" because the Clinton administration "lacked sufficient evidence to indict him."

Ever since a judge last month dismissed the government's case against Lee, Cox has backpedaled furiously, trying to pin blame for the botched prosecution on the Clinton administration by arguing that his own committee report never specifically identified Lee (to use Cox's disingenuous word) by "name."

In that, he is literally correct: his report on Chinese espionage at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico identified as its only suspect an Asian-American scientist then under investigation by the FBI. That suspect was Wen Ho Lee, who was known to Cox's committee as "Kindred Spirit."

Cox's report last year became the basis of the Clinton Administration's very public firing of Lee. If anyone is responsible for the "un-American" prosecution of Wen Ho Lee, Cox is certainly among them.

Before elected to Congress in 1988, Cox was a lawyer representing, among others, Orange County's most notorious swindler of elderly citizens. His specialty has never been criminal law—a fact that is now glaringly obvious.

Mr. Smith Goes To Wussington

Part-time columnist, full-time sycophant and aspiring bigot Steve Smith wrote in his weekly Pilot column that he was leaving his post editing radio dominatrix Laura Schlessinger's Perspective magazine. Funny . . . when he was defending Schlessinger in print after she slandered Beach Access owner Tom Moore, he neglected to mention he worked for her or that his self-published book was for sale on her website. Nice. Smith also chided certain "narrow-minded social groups" for taking pleasure in the almost instantaneous crash and burn of Schlessinger's TV show. Now who could he be talking about?

By the way, Smith's Schlessinger suck-up began with a tribute to outgoing Pilot editor Bill Lobdell, who must have been thrilled at the placement. Smith, who put the "us" in "wuss," gave Lobdell—who has been a religion writer for the Times OC—his highest praise: "Bill and I have disagreed about a few important local issues, but the discussions were always civil. We stuck to the facts and left out the emotion that drives so many people to take one side or another." There's nothing like a columnist willing to take a stand, and Smith is nothing like one. Then again, his comments were probably understood at the Pilot, which once called the Weekly "ultracritical."

Political Payoff

Readers of The Orange County Register or the Times wouldn't know it, but Republican county Supervisor Chuck Smith gained puzzling political support earlier this year—from labor unions. Thirteen pro-Democratic Party Southern California unions offered the Board of Supervisors chairman $9,000, and he accepted.

There is nothing unusual about union contributions in elections, even in Orange County—unless they end up in Smith's campaign account. Smith is so beholden to anti-union businessmen that he should be required to wear the logos of his many corporate sponsors. His contributor base is a list of the county's corporate right-wing elite: developers Donald Koll, Donald Bren and George Argyros and Huntington Beach paint magnate Edwin Laird. To put it mildly, each man has no love for labor unions and their goals. Argyros, to take but one example, helped fund 1998's Proposition 226, an unsuccessful statewide initiative designed to cripple the ability of unions to match corporate electoral activities in California.

Smith's views on accepting campaign money from competing sources are not known; he did not respond to requests for an interview. What's known, thanks to mandatory disclosure reports, is this: from Feb. 19 to March 6, unions showered Smith with 13 separate contributions ranging from $500 to $1,000 each. Unions contributing included Plasters Union Local 200 in Burbank, Sheet Metal Workers Local 102 in Corona, Southern California Pipe Traders District Council No. 16 in Los Angeles, and Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen Local 18 in Diamond Bar.

The supervisor had never received a union contribution in any previous county election.

One other note of interest: the contributions arrived shortly after Smith led the board to approve an unprecedented county agreement guaranteeing unions 85 percent of all local government projects for the next five years.

Standard Thing With Lights

We occasionally hear complaints that the Weekly doesn't report news the way it's reported by our mainstream brethren. We've contemplated those concerns and reached a conclusion: we're just not creative enough.

We could never hope to top, for example, an Oct. 2 article in the Times:

"City workers are turning on newly installed ball field lights at Del Obispo Park, 34052 Del Obispo St., daily between 6 and 10 p.m. to perform a required 100-hour certification test that extends the longevity of the lamps.

"'It's a standard thing with lights,' said Robert Warren, public works director."

Hopefully, the Times will inform us when this fascinating light-certification test has been completed.

Dewey Defeats Truman, No. 248

A front-page headline in the Oct. 3 Pilot read, "The Gloves Come Off in First Debate."

The first presidential-campaign debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore had not yet occurred. When it did, later that day, the gloves stayed on.

Gospel according to Reg reader

Oct. 9 The Orange County Register "Letters to the Editor" headline: "Jesus Is No Democrat."

No word yet, however, on whether Jesus is registered as a Republican, Green, Libertarian or Independent.

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