'Too Much Gore'

Reviews by Democratic activists of “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore’s documentary on global warning: raves on content, not so favorable on the principal actor.

Democratic politicians who have seen the movie that accompanies Gore on his current tour say it is the most effective presentation yet about global warming. But they contend there is “too much Gore,” including aspects of his personal life that have nothing to do with the environment.

A footnote: Many critics of Gore are acknowledged supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for president. They view the former vice president as her potentially most serious opponent.

Immigration Turnabout

Within two days last week, House Majority Leader John Boehner changed from sunny optimism about prospects for passing an immigration bill this summer to a bleak, negative outlook. The reason was that Boehner got the word from House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Boehner on Tuesday was upbeat in addressing a breakfast forum at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which supports a guest worker program. He indicated he would resolve differences between the restrictive House bill and the much more liberal Senate bill by the Fourth of July.

But at a closed luncheon Wednesday at Charlie Palmer’s restaurant, attended by financial contributors to House Republicans, Boehner declared that the immigration bill was all but dead. That change followed Boehner’s conversation late Tuesday with Hastert, who made clear he did not want to pursue the issue that splits the Republican Party.

Snubbing the Contras

Many Bush administration officials were invited, but none attended, a reunion at the Army and Navy Club in Washington Wednesday of 24 Contra leaders, whose military campaign in Nicaragua led to the fall of the Marxist-Leninist Sandinista regime.

The Contra commandantes back former Vice President Jose Rizo in the Nov. 5 Nicaraguan presidential election, while the Bush administration is behind former Foreign Minister Eduardo Montealegre. After invitations to the Contra reunion had been sent, a reception for Montealegre was scheduled for Washington at the same hour in the law offices of Greenberg Traurig.

Adolfo Calero, who was the Washington-based civilian leader of the Contras, told his former colleagues Wednesday that the Rizo-Montealegre split may elect the Sandinista candidate, former President Daniel Ortega.

Death Tax Deviants

Two Southern Democratic Senators who will be Republican targets in 2008, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, broke their vows in voting against taking up repeal of the death tax. The outcome fell three votes short of the 60 needed to end debate on whether to consider the bill.

Lane Grigsby, a Baton Rouge, La., builder and contributor to Landrieu, told this column he had been assured the week of the vote that the senator would support ending debate. “What she promised was that she would support cloture, and then she voted against it,” said Grigsby.

Pryor long has avowed opposition to the estate tax. A week after his Senate vote, Pryor’s Website continued to proclaim, “I support the permanent repeal of an estate tax that harms small businesses and family farms.”

Minimum Wage Politics

Defection by six Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday caused the passage of a minimum wage increase long sought by Democrats, but GOP leaders privately decreed the proposal never will reach the House floor.

The Republican defections produced a 32 to 27 committee vote, amending the health and education spending bill, for an increase to $7.25 an hour of the current $5.15 rate that has not been changed since 1997. The party leadership, unwilling to force Republican House members to vote on the minimum wage, will use last year’s health and education spending as the basis for current outlays rather than pass the appropriations bill.

Republicans want to avoid a minimum wage floor fight, where Democrats would point out that House members Tuesday, for the eighth straight Congress, raised their own pay. The latest $3,300 increase puts the House’s annual salary at $168,500.