Today's Papers

Bush Energy Policy: The Oily Years

The New York Times leads with Dick Cheney’s speech yesterday providing a first look at the energy policy being planned by the Bush administration. Bottom line: There is an energy crisis, and its solution will come not from lessening demand but by increasing supply. Yesterday’s NYT lead was that the Bush administration was planning to speed up work toward a missile defense system, and today’s Los Angeles Times lead gives the target date: 2004. The top nonlocal story at the Washington Post is one the paper and several others have visited often in recent months: how the U.S. Marine Corps is struggling to decide what to do about its crash-prone tilt-rotor aircraft, the Osprey. USA Today, which fronts Cheney’s speech (also fronted at the Post and stuffed at the LAT), leads with Evenflo’s recall of its “Joyride” combination car seat and baby carrier. (For info, call 800-557-3178 or go to The paper explains they’ve worked fine in cars, but as carriers they’ve left 97 infants with skull and other fractures when the handles failed.

The NYT lead says Cheney’s energy remarks seemed in part to be a “combative response to Democrats and environmentalists.” Highlights: 1) Former oil exec Cheney “left little doubt of his support” for commencing oil drilling in the Alaskan wilderness; 2) coal has been “neglected,” and people who seek to phase it out because of air pollution “deny reality”; and 3) extending the life of existing nuclear plants and granting permits for new ones is “the most environmentally friendly way” (the NYT’s words) to increase energy supplies. Cheney’s comment about conservation is quoted widely: It “may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.”

The NYT says that Cheney did not mention the merits of raising government auto fuel efficiency requirements, adding that a study coming out later this week says that doing so by a modest amount could do far more to reduce reliance on imported oil than drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.

One thing missing from the Cheney speech stories: How many years worth of fossil fuel do experts think are left on the planet?

The Wall Street Journal reports that coal and utility companies are lobbying Cheney’s energy task force to recommend easing clean air regulations and that an unnamed administration official confirms that “we are taking a look at it.”

The LAT lead says that advisers are telling the secretary of defense that it is vital to field the missile shield by 2004 “even if the system has limited effectiveness in destroying incoming warheads.” Way too low down, the story adds that in March one DOD advisery committee said the Pentagon should “accept program risk to facilitate early deployment.” And the comment is not satisfactorily explained, either. Is that risk to the program (as in the country cancels it) or from the program (as in it cancels the country)? The WP Osprey piece contains a comment from a Marine officer that applies here: “The problem is, we fielded the aircraft before it should have been.”

The LAT notes that deployment of a missile shield before the next presidential election has political advantages for President Bush: It would shore up his conservative support.

The WP says that the Independent Women’s Forum, a conservative group that among other things opposes the Violence Against Women Act and Take Our Daughters to Work Day, operates at “the highest levels of the Bush administration.” Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, her predecessor nominee Linda Chavez, Lynne Cheney (wife of Dick), and Barbara Olson (wife of then-Bush election lawyer and now-solicitor general Theodore) are all associated with the outfit.

The NYT fronts word that shortly before Marc Rich and his business partner Pincus Green got pardoned by Bill Clinton, the two businessmen pledged $1 million a year to the charity run by Rich’s ex-wife Denise. The paper points out that in recent interviews, Denise Rich never mentioned the pledges as a reason for her involvement in Marc Rich’s pardon effort. The story also reports that Marc Rich has been reluctant to leave Switzerland for fear of arrest in connection with the federal investigation into his pardon. He has even had to cancel a vacation to Sardinia!

The NYT’s Tom Friedman, filing from Accra Ghana, writes that the four most democratic countries in West Africa–Benin, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal–have privately funded, flourishing FM talk radio stations. Friedman makes the case that right now, FM talk can play the information dissemination role in Africa that the Internet does most everywhere else. Conclusion: “[M]ake all I.M.F.-World Bank loans, all debt relief conditional on African governments’ permitting free FM radio stations.”

But thank God there are no nude photos on the Web of Hugh Downs. Today’s Papers’ favorite television reporter, the WP’s Lisa de Moraes, has a refreshing take on those complaints from TV news folk that Andrea Thompson, former NYPD Blue actress, doesn’t have the news cred required for her new gig at CNN: Sure, she’s a high-school drop out–just like Peter Jennings. And sure, she doesn’t have a journalism background–just like Hugh Downs, Susan Molinari, Catherine Crier, Phyllis George, and Joan Lunden.