Uncle Ted's Problems
It was a tender moment between the Senate's two oldest members: one infirm, the other indicted.
Eighty-four-year-old Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska, newly charged by the feds with corruption-related offenses, walked over to the desk of 90-year-old Democrat Robert Byrd of West Virginia yesterday morning. Byrd, in a wheelchair, clasped his friend's hands, then squinted up at him and shouted, "Say it ain't so!"
Stevens says it ain't so. But prosecutors say it is.
They say he received gifts worth more than $250,000 from an oil and gas company whose business interests he promoted: a renovation of his home, a Viking gas grill, a Land Rover and a cabinet full of tools. The senator, expected to turn himself in at the federal courthouse in Washington today, vows to continue his reelection campaign as he fights the charges.
Exactly how he plans to do this, however, remains something of a mystery. A reporter from Fox News asked Stevens about his plans yesterday morning as he walked to the Senate chamber for a vote. The senator ignored her queries, then put his arm around her shoulder. "Someone told me the thing to do is I ought to be surrounded by beautiful women," he said -- as the Fox News camera recorded the moment for posterity.
Good advice, no doubt -- but of limited use in getting Stevens out of his legal and political fix.
-- Dana Milbank
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