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[whitespace] George W. Bush Spurious George: George W. Bush says sound energy policy helps the economy.

Public Eye

Bush in The Hand ...

President GEORGE W. BUSH dusted off some old rhetoric from the 2000 campaign Tuesday, giving an enthusiastic crowd at the Tech Museum a crash course on his old pal compassionate conservatism. Remember that one? In town for about three hours, Bush left the Tech and motorcaded over to a BILL SIMON fundraiser in Santa Clara before hopping on Air Force One to go back to fighting evil. The real purpose of the president's trip was to raise some much needed cash for the reep contender for governor, to the tune of about $5 million. Simon, aside from being a guy who blew all his money in the primary, is someone who could really help Bush here in 2004. Though Bush backed DICK RIORDAN in the first round, he's now doing for Simon what he didn't for Riordan: showing up. ... In his speech, Bush pitched his prescription for the economy, and wasted no time before demanding trade promotion authority and touting the tax cut. The economically traumatized audience roared with applause every time Bush paused--except when energy came up. "As your state knows, our economy grows when we have steady, stable and affordable sources of energy," Bush said. For an instant, silence filled the auditorium, until a few put their hands together, then more, and the crowd reluctantly worked its way up to a less-than-deafening round of applause for the guy who did his best to ignore California's crippling energy crisis. ... But despite his contempt for the Golden State and his legendary dyslexic speaking patterns, Bush convinced this crowd that there's something likeable about him, something charmingly disarming. What's not to like about a Connecticut native with two Ivy League degrees who twangs like a country singer, drives a big pickup around his Texas ranch and talks about nuke-you-ler weapons, eggheads be damned? Bush dedicated much florid prose to the promise of opportunity and justice, the evils of terrorism and bigotry, and even, to Eye's delight, took a shot at the French: "We reject the ancient evil of anti-Semitism, whether it is practiced by the killers of DANIEL PEARL or by those who burn synagogues in France." But most importantly, Bush returned to preaching his most essential marketing tool from 2000. "I call my philosophy and approach compassionate conservatism," he said, making a pitch for keeping government's clumsy fingers out of business, education and charity, even while being a global busybody. "It is compassionate to actively help our fellow citizens in need. It is conservative to insist on responsibility and results." (Even after the refresher course, Eye remains hazy on the fine print.) ... Secretary of State BILL JONES, who is now working as a campaign co-chair for former foe Simon, shadowed the prez. Jones told Eye he spoke briefly to Bush before the speech, and that his last-minute switch to support JOHN McCAIN that enraged Bushies a couple years ago seemed to be forgotten. "It didn't appear there was any lingering concern about the 2000 primary," Jones said.

Hearing Footsteps

DOMINIC DUTRA, youngest son of Assemblyman JOHN DUTRA (D-Fremont), is making his first foray into politics at age 39 with a run for Fremont City Council. Dutra got the word out in an early-April letter to friends, supporters and local pols, and has signed up political consultant BARRY BARNES to do the campaign. Dutra Junior ran Dutra Realty Enterprises, the company his dad started in 1972, for 10 years. Dutra says he turned the firm into the fifth-largest real estate brokerage in the Bay Area until selling it in 1999. After that, Dutra went to a Seattle dotcom that dot-bombed, then came back to work as a developer doing mostly small commercial projects. Now, Dutra says he wants the council gig so he can work on revitalizing the city's different districts, like Irvington, Centerville and Niles, plus push for affordable housing and smart growth to accompany the BART extension. Fremont, the Bay Area's fourth-largest city, has two of five at-large council seats up this fall, but the field hasn't been defined yet. In any case, Dutra says he's not trying to cash in on his name. "I'm not running as John's son, but I'm not running away from that, either," Dutra says, adding that he thinks he's got a pretty good shot at the job his dad first won in 1986. "I wouldn't be running if I didn't think I was going to win."

Flights of Fancy?

Feathers were ruffled in Sunnyvale recently when Mayor FRED FOWLER and Vice Mayor JULIA MILLER were challenged about requested increases in their travel budgets. During a previously peaceful April 16 session, Councilwoman PAT VORREITER swooped down from behind the dais to play budget hawk. Clutching in her claws Fowler's request for $2,800 and Miller's for $2,500, Vorreiter took the pair to task for their frivolous ways--especially Miller, who asked for and got another $3,000 travel-budget infusion in February. Fowler and Miller pleaded that they need the cash to attend meetings and conventions of groups like the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities and League of California Cities. "What are you looking for, Pat? Are you trying to embarrass me?" Miller asked during the meeting. But Vorreiter, who didn't return Eye's calls, insinuated that her colleagues were junketing needlessly before casting the lone vote against the budget adjustment. "Hopefully, that particular incident is over, because the vote was 6-1," Miller told Eye. Miller says she called Vorreiter to explain the request when she found out Vorreiter had asked the city manager for her and Fowler's expense reports, but, like Eye, never got a call back. "Obviously, she wanted to make a public statement," Miller added. "She could have handled this in private. I think the only two women on the council should be able to work together. ... It made the city look bad." Asked what he though his interlocutor's beef was, Fowler wouldn't hazard much of a guess. "I wish the hell I knew," Fowler said. "I know she had some issues with Julia and travel in the past, and she says Julia puts in a lot of reimbursements, like her mileage to ABAG meetings and cell phone roaming charges. All I know is I don't have any long-running ax to grind. I've been working to calm things down and get the council to work as a team. I just want us to calm down and concentrate on the city's business." The tensions also flared in November, when Vorreiter moved to pass up then-Vice Mayor Fowler for the rotating mayorship and instead nominated then-Mayor JACK WALKER for another year. When that fell short, Fowler won his year in the mayor's chair on a 4-0 vote, with Vorreiter, Walker and MANNY VALERIO abstaining.

If The Shoe Fits

The View co-host STAR JONES' sass has landed her in the doghouse with seething godless locals. Jones, the high-profile Brooklyn DA-turned-loquacious-wig-wearing-public-personality, cut loose on national TV with her distrust of atheists. (She'd "possibly" let an atheist baby-sit her kids, she said, but she "wouldn't vote for an atheist.") Feeling persecuted, atheists of Silicon Valley, East Bay Atheists and San Francisco Atheists took to the streets last Wednesday. The ticked-off groups staged simultaneous protests in San Jose, San Francisco and El Cerrito outside Payless Shoe Stores, where Jones stars on posters in the thrifty chain's new ads.

The heathen demonstration followed many unanswered complaints about Jones to Payless management, according to CHRIS LINDSTROM, who organized the Santa Clara Street rally attended by a dozen or so protestors. After all, "Atheists buy shoes too," as one picket sign noted. Lindstrom and crew are also raging (in vain) to Jones herself, her co-hosts (who include Baba Wawa), ABC management and producers of The View. "We'd like to encourage [Jones] to rethink her prejudices," Lindstrom said. The angry nonbelievers are also sending their old shoes to Jones hoping that she'll walk a mile in them. So far, though, Jones has failed to walk even to the phone to return Eye's request for comment.

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From the May 2-8, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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