Sunny Jim's Gravitas

Also: Appeals in the wine case, and commercial TV puts on gay pride.

National Politics

Seattle's punditocracy loves to hate U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle. Political consultants and newspaper columnists regularly take aim at Sunny Jim for being long on rhetoric and short on accomplishment. So it came as a shock on Tuesday, May 16, when Knowlegis, a company that does research for lobbyists, came out with power rankings for members of Congress and McDermott was ranked 212th out of 438 in the House of Representatives. McDermott beat out every other Washington Democratic House member except U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton, who was 26th in the House. It turns out that Knowlegis power rankings gave McDermott a lot of points for his 18 years of seniority and his membership on the important Ways and Means Committee. That won't mesh with the argument by McDermott's critics that he spends too much time on symbolic stuff (flying to Baghdad before the war, appearing in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11) rather than the prosaic (getting pork for Seattle). The Knowlegis list had rookie U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, who sits on the snoozy energy committee, 93rd out of 100 senators.


On April 21, U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman tossed out most of the 73-year-old state code governing the import, sale, pricing, and distribution of beer and wine. The defendants—the state Liquor Control Board and the private Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association—are appealing, but the two groups appear to be pursuing quite different strategies. The liquor board plans to try to convince the justices of the San Francisco–based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that whatever their distorting impact on prices and trade, Washington's rules are protected by the 21st Amendment, which handed regulation of alcohol to the states. The wholesalers haven't shown their cards, but they're likely to challenge the judge's interpretation of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution to justify their state-mandated monopoly over wholesaling. The progress of such appeals is glacial. Some of the judge's rulings, however, will go into effect soon. It was in December that Pechman ruled on the interstate commerce clause. In March, the Legislature codified her demands for liberalizing importation, pricing, and distribution, though it added a two-year sunset clause in the event that the Ninth Circuit ultimately comes down on the side of the old rules.


The sexual revolution will be televised. This year's Seattle Pride Festival, the annual parade celebrating gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people, will be shown for the first time on local commercial television. KSTW-TV (11) will broadcast the parade on Sunday, June 25. Says KSTW Director of Programming Ryan Craig: "It's the biggest summer event except for Seafair. It should be on." He believes broadcasters have not done it before because they were timid about controversial content. The catch is that the parade will be recorded and shown at 6 p.m. That will allow the station to edit out public displays of proud gay sexuality that distinguish Pride from the Torchlight Parade and would make conservatives howl for FCC punishment.

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