The Range

Surgeon General's Warning

The doctor is out--of control! Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona came out swinging against the Bush administration last week, telling Congress that the executive branch had--and this will come as a big surprise--allowed political calculations to override public-health considerations.

"The reality is that the nation's doctor has been marginalized and relegated to a position with no independent budget, and with supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas," Carmona told lawmakers.

Carmona, a former trauma surgeon who returned to Tucson to take an executive position at Canyon Ranch after his term as surgeon general ended last year, complained that the Bush administration had no interest in hearing from him on issues such as stem-cell research. Administration officials also clamped a muzzle on him when it came to topics like emergency contraception and abstinence-only education.

Carmona testified that his landmark report on the dangers of secondhand smoke was delayed for political reasons, and the Bushies even discouraged him from appearing at the Special Olympics, because the event for disabled Americans was linked to the Kennedy family. Instead, he was encouraged to support Republicans and ordered to exult Dear Leader Bush in every speech.

Next from the White House: Public-art funding for giant portraits of Bush in every public square.

The White House said Carmona blew his chance to make a difference as part of the administration.

"It's disappointing to us if he failed to use his position to the fullest extent in advocating for policies he thought were in the best interests of the nation," Bush's Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto told the press. "We believe Dr. Carmona received the support necessary to carry out his mission."

Not-So-Straight Talk

Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign continued to downsize this week, with most of his communications team resigning and key operatives in Iowa calling it quits.

Meanwhile, the co-chair of McCain's Florida campaign, conservative state Rep. Bob Allen, was arrested last week for allegedly offering to give an undercover police officer a blowjob for $20. Wonder if that's a qualifying contribution for Florida's Clean Erections program?

McCain took full blame for his campaign's troubles, though we imagine he wasn't including the Allen incident in his statement.

"We've made mistakes," McCain told New Hampshire Public Radio. "The responsibility is mine. I'm the candidate."

McCain also told Roger Simon of The Politico that the fight over immigration reform was finished for the foreseeable future.

"I think the immigration issue is off the front burner," McCain said. "I lost; the other side won; it is over."

Baghdad Blues

Southern Arizona Democrats Raúl Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords were among the 223 members of the House of Representatives who voted to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq in four months.

The vote came as more GOP senators have begun questioning the war effort. Republican Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, for example, told Fox News last week that the Iraq War was "insane."

Meanwhile, the Bush administration admitted that the Iraqi government isn't doing such a hot job in achieving those all-important benchmarks. The Iraqi parliament plans to take a month-long vacation in August.

Off to the Big House

Ronald Bruce Bigger, convicted of being the triggerman in the murder-for-hire of Dr. Brian Stidham, received two life sentences from Pima County Superior Court Judge Nanette Warner. That means that if Bigger dies behind bars and then comes back to life, he must remain locked up.

A jury found that Bigger was the man who stabbed and bludgeoned Stidham in the parking lot of his medical office in October 2004. Stidham's former employer, Brad Schwartz, was convicted last year of conspiring to kill Stidham by paying Bigger to carry out the murder. Schwartz is now serving 25 years to life.

Bridge Work

Work crews had a fun weekend demolishing the Grant Road bridge as part of the downtown Interstate 10 widening project. The road work, which has closed all exits I-10 exits and on-ramps, will continue for the next three years.
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