The Range

Road to Perdition

Such pain at the pump! Those gas prices just keep creeping upward, with AAA Arizona reporting that "agony awaits motorists" as the average price of unleaded regular climbed to more than $2.76 per gallon at Tucson gas stations last week. From our anecdotal observations, prices were even higher as of press time.

Democrats are blaming Republicans for being in league with greedy oil companies, which are reporting record profits. Republicans are blaming Democrats for being in league with anti-corporate environmentalists, who are blocking oil drilling in Alaska and construction of domestic refineries. Neither side appears to have the stones to blame oblivious Americans who drive around in their frackin' 12-miles-to-the-gallon SUVs while whining about gas prices.

In other auto news: The Range will be engaging in continuing education following an incident in which we were hassled by The Man. The Mobile Newsroom was on its way to a breaking news story downtown when we were clocked doing 48 in a 35 mph zone on Campbell Avenue near Elm Street. At least three more cars were pulled over while we were issued our ticket, which leaves us to strongly suspect TPD has set up a speed trap in the area. Our advice: Slow down when passing through there in the next couple of weeks, unless you want to join us in traffic school.

Elsewhere on the road beat: The intersection of Grant and Silverbell roads was temporarily closed after a giant sinkhole opened up. Local transportation planners hope the massive cavity doesn't serve as a metaphor for collapsing voter support of the Regional Transportation Plan on the May 16 ballot.

War Stories

Congressman Jim Kolbe congratulated the U.S. Army for reversing an earlier decision to stiff Marana-based National Guard troops who will soon be training in Texas. Some soldiers with the 1-285th Attack Helicopter Battalion had complained that they were told they would be receiving about $800 a month and had made plans to move families with them to the Fort Hood area, only to be informed they'd only get $200 a month. After Kolbe made a few phone calls, military officials said the soldiers would be eligible for the higher amounts.

"I am pleased that our soldiers will be receiving this increased pay," Kolbe press-released. "The Army has done the right thing by sticking by its commitment to pay the soldiers a per diem. I applaud the Army for its swift action to help those who are protecting our freedom."

In other war news: Three years after President George W. Bush landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared "Mission Accomplished," Iraq is continuing its slide into civil war, and Bush is continuing his slide in the polls, with only 32 percent of the American people giving him a positive approval rating, according to a recent CNN poll. Want to bring up your numbers, Mr. President? Have a dalliance with an intern, and then get Republicans to impeach you.

The most recent KAET-TV poll, conducted by Arizona State University and the Maricopa County PBS affiliate, shows that 42 percent of Arizonans approve of Bush's overall job performance, with 55 percent expressing disapproval. Only 36 percent approve of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, with 61 percent disapproving. And 41 percent approve of Bush's handling of the economy, while 51 percent disapprove.

The same poll of 380 registered voters showed that 73 percent approve of the job Gov. Janet Napolitano is doing, while 22 percent disapprove.

In the upcoming race for the U.S. Senate, 42 percent of those surveyed said they'd vote for Republican incumbent Jon Kyl, while 31 percent said they'd support Democratic challenger Jim Pederson. Another 27 percent were undecided.

Poll Positions

As the May Day Hispanic boycott brought the local economy to a virtual halt and GOP state lawmakers continued working on an omnibus illegal-immigrant bill that will solve all the problems related to border crossers, the aforementioned KAET poll inquired about attitudes regarding illegal immigration.

The poll showed that a majority of Arizonans feel that recent demonstrations to oppose illegal-immigration legislation have backfired on organizers, who might want to wave fewer Mexican flags in the future. Only 31 percent said they thought the marches have helped advance the cause of illegal immigrants, while 52 percent said they thought the protests had set efforts back.

In other poll results: 48 percent of those polled said they thought the most important thing that needed to be done regarding illegal immigration was to "secure the border/enforce the laws/insist they come in legally." But 43 percent said that they supported allowing the 12 million or so illegal immigrants now in the country to remain here and earn citizenship, while just 16 percent said they wanted to "ship them back to Mexico."

Just more than half of those polled opposed making illegal immigrants into felons, while 42 percent supported the idea; 48 percent opposed making it a felony to help illegal immigrants, while 44 percent favored it; 57 percent favored building a wall along the Arizona border, while 37 percent opposed it; and 83 percent supported tougher penalties for businesses that fail to verify the legal status of the people they hire, while just 14 percent oppose stiffer employer sanctions.

Smoke 'Em If You've Got 'Em

The Mexican government voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and other drugs hard and soft, saying it would ease off prosecuting addicts and concentrate on busting dealers in the future. As of press time, the bill was awaiting the signature of Mexican President Vicente Fox.
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