The Range

Take the Money and Run

So what was the worst-spent money this campaign season? We may have an answer even before the Sept. 7 primary: the $600,000 or so wasted on No Taxpayer Money for Politicians, the proposed ballot initiative that would have crippled the state's Clean Elections program, which provides public campaign dollars to qualifying candidates.

Last week, the Arizona Supreme Court agreed with a lower court decision that knocked the initiative effort off the ballot because it addressed too many separate areas of the Arizona Constitution. It appears to us that Nathan Sproul, the Phoenix political consultant who spearheaded the effort, needs to find himself a new lawyer when he writes his next proposition.

No Taxpayer Money for Politicians had spent a total of $478,507 as of May 31, with all of it going to Sproul to cover the costs of gathering signatures and developing the campaign. The committee owed Sproul more than $111,000.

Major local contributors include legendary land speculator Don Diamond ($10,000), auto kingpin Jim Click ($15,000), billboard baron Karl Eller ($10,000) and developer Bill Estes ($10,000).

Courting P'Lod

Following on the heels of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's visit to the Grand Canyon, President George W. Bush told a packed house in Phoenix that the Democratic nominee was too nuanced in his approach to statecraft--a charge few would make about the Bush Administration.

Meanwhile, a new report from the Congressional Budget Office reveals that one-third of the Bush Administration tax breaks went the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. The fat cats in the top 1 percent--average annual income: $1.2 million--enjoyed an average tax cut of $78,460 this year, while folks in the bottom 20 percent got an average cut of $250, according to The New York Times. Bush is seeking to make his tax cuts permanent despite an estimated deficit of more than $400 billion this year.

In other Bush administration news, the Weekly World News, our favorite supermarket tabloid, revealed that Bush is preparing to unveil a free brunch program for the super-rich. "By bringing America's movers and shakers together at Freedom Brunches, we'll give them a unique forum in which to brainstorm and form new business ventures," according to an unnamed administration source quoted in the story.

"Due to the high price of gourmet treats, the brunches will cost taxpayers an estimated $8 billion a year," the paper reported.

The Weekly World News also revealed that Bush may have a reason to be worried about losing his re-election campaign, since the notorious space alien P'Lod was seen huddling with Kerry at the Democratic convention, although the E.T. is evidently "still sitting on the fence." The paper broke the story of P'lod's support of Bill Clinton in 1992 and Bush in 2000. The alien has also been romantically linked to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

In a final tidbit from WWN, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice allegedly donned a Catwoman outfit, leapt atop a table and cracked a whip during a recent meeting, declaring a "one-woman war on terrorism."

An unnamed administration official told Mike Foster of WWN that Bush fears that Rice "may spit up a hairball during a public appearance--a bad move during an election year."

Thanks for the Clarification

Kathy McKee, chairwoman of the effort to pass the Protect Arizona Now initiative, drew criticism after she appointed Virginia Abernethy to chair a national advisory board for the proposition, which would ban passport-challenged individuals from receiving state services and require dark-skinned citizens to show their papers before voting.

The Coalition to Defeat Prop 200 fired off a bulletin calling Abernethy a "white supremacist" for her past involvement in racist groups such as the Council of Conservative Citizens.

Contacted by the morning daily, Abernethy called the charge "silly" because she was merely a white "separatist."

The appointment of Abernethy triggered a press release from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the big-bucks, D.C.-based interest group that funded the signature-gathering effort. FAIR officials took the opportunity to denounce not only Abernethy, but also McKee, whom they said "no longer has any useful role in any case."

"Views expressed by a Ms. Virginia Abernethy, a Nashville, Tenn., advisor to Kathy McKee--appointed after the signature turn in and utterly uninvolved in the signature gathering process--are repugnant, divisive and do not represent the views of the vast majority of Arizonans who support Proposition 200," said a FAIR press release. "We do not know why she was appointed by Ms. McKee, but FAIR and everyone FAIR represents categorically denies and repudiates Abernethy's repulsive separatist views."

In other can't-we-all-just-get-along news, The Range returned from a South Pacific assignment to find that our loyal TiVO had captured an episode of HBO's Da Ali G Show that had Sacha Baron Cohen's Kazakhstani character Borat visiting Tucson's Country West bar, where he managed to get the patrons to clap and sing along with a country-Western ditty that featured the chorus: "Throw the Jew down the well / So my country can be free / You must grab him by his horns / Then we have a big party."