The National Rifle Association knew its stance on assault weapons was unpopular, so in 1994 it went underground, took advantage of loopholes in the campaign finance laws, and waged a stealth campaign to unseat Democrats in vulnerable districts.
America's huge budget for electronic reconnaissance might have come in for scrutiny after the Cold War. But the few in Congress who are supposed to watch over the world of spy finance are also big beneficiaries of it.
Last October, as Congress was scrambling to complete work on a series of last-minute spending bills that had been deadlocked all year, four members of the House of Representatives made a pilgrimage across the Capitol to see Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. With President Clinton crippled by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's inquiry and the prospect of impeachment, they argued, the moment was right for another Republican confrontation with the White House over the budget, even if that meant shutting down the government again. But, as former Senator Alan Simpson tells the story, Lott—recalling the disastrous results of the 1995–96 government shutdown provoked by Newt Gingrich's revolutionaries—was having none of it. "Good God!