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Indoor Pollution

Confirmation hearings are pending for Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, the nominee to replace Christie Whitman at the troubled Environmental Protection Agency. Leavitt surprised many in mid-August when he accepted the nomination, as he'd been offered the post just two months earlier and had turned it down because he was still undecided about seeking a fourth gubernatorial term. When the nomination was announced, it was praised, as they say, on both sides of the aisle. But lately, Leavitt has become a symbol of boiling Democratic discontent in the Senate. His hearings are being held up by a group of lawmakers fed up with the deceit of the Bush administration, and with the morass that is the EPA. Leading the charge are Hillary Rodham Clinton and three other Senate Democrats and presidential candidates: John Edwards, Joe Lieberman and John Kerry. Clinton's concern has nothing to do with Leavitt himself but with the question of whether the White House and the EPA covered up the extent of the air...

The Great Recusal

T he Enron scandal should ring down the curtain on a whole philosophy of free-market capitalism and a whole style of government-corporate cronyism. It should launch a national movement to leash the corrupt power of money in politics so that legislators and regulators can serve the public interest. We have been here before, most recently when the Great Depression discredited the speculative excess invited by laissez-faire. One generation earlier, in the Progressive Era, financial panics and robber baron abuses led to demands for reform (which resulted in a 1907 law prohibiting corporate campaign contributions). In both these periods, a politically aroused citizenry elected progressives who in turn enacted profound changes in the ground rules of capitalism. But these changes remained politically secure only as long as the power of voters offset the power of money. A new reform era in this first decade of the new century will be tougher to achieve. Enron may display all the elements of...

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