ThinkFast: March 9, 2005

Santorum to K Street Project: I wish I knew how to quit you. “After saying in January that he would end his regular meetings with lobbyists, Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.)…has continued to meet with many of the same lobbyists at the same time and on the same day of the week.”

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) “has traveled on more exclusive golf outings, lobbyist-funded vacations and fundraising excursions to luxurious destinations than he has on return trips back to his Ohio district to visit constituents” over the last six years, a new report shows.

I’ll be eating with my wife, and so will a lot more senators after we pass this one.” Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) comments on the possible consequences of a measure passed yesterday banning lawmakers from accepting meals from lobbyists.

Contrary to recent administration claims, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found the Bush “tax cuts have not paid for themselves, recent economic growth and revenue growth have not been particularly strong, and revenues remain lower than had been predicted before the tax cuts were enacted.”

Even as crews work to contain “what is now the sixth largest oil spill ever on Alaska’s North Slope” (see photos), Senate conservatives yesterday released a budget that “tries to resurrect a plan to drill for oil and gas in the Alaskan wildlife refuge.”

Yesterday nearly 6,000 biologists signed a letter urging senators to preserve scientific protections in the Endangered Species Act. Their letter was directed to the efforts of Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), who has consistently tried to “gut” the landmark law.

The State Department’s newly released Human Rights Report condemns Iraq’s police for “intimidation, beatings, and suspension by the arms or legs, as well as the reported use of electric drills and cords and the application of electric shocks.”

Iraqi hospitals and morgues were ordered to “catalog deaths caused by bombings or clashes with insurgents, but not by execution-style shootings,” bolstering a controversial Washington Post report that some 1,300 Iraqis died in the aftermath of a major Shiite shrine bombing.

46: The percentage of Americans who say they have a “negative view” of Islam, seven points higher than after September 11. The jump represents a win for Bin Laden, Juan Cole writes, “since his whole enterprise was to ‘sharpen the contradictions’ and provoke a clash of civilizations.”

And finally: It’s been a week of firsts for actress Natalie Portman. Days after making her first foray into gangsta rap, she visited Columbia University to deliver an “undergraduate lecture on counterterrorism.”