HOUSE RULES: The more things get reformed, the more things stay the same. At least that's the lesson gleaned by Washington lobbyists poring over House ethics reform legislation in search of loopholes.
The rules, Congressional Quarterly notes, say lobbyists can no longer pay for House members' trips -- unless it's to present them with a campaign contribution. So special interest groups with political action committees can just convert "fact-finding missions" to "campaign events," so long as they hand over a PAC check wherever the destination might be.
A NICE TOUCH: Whatever you think of the participants' politics, you have to admit President Bush acknowledged history with a charming touch at his State of the Union address this week. Bush opened the speech by noting that he was delighted to be the first president to open with the words, "Madam Speaker."
Former Clinton White House special counsel Lanny Davis, a political polar opposite to the president who knew Bush when both attended Yale, also made it a point during this week's first WNED/Leadership Buffalo "Buffalo City Forum" to comment on Bush's personal warmth.
Davis also recounted a change-of-command moment of bonding between Clinton and Bush illustrating that you can call someone wrong without calling them evil. Davis wants an end to "gotcha" politics and a return to meaningful discourse. We wish him luck.
A NEW VOICE: This page just got better, with the addition of a new editorial writer to fill a vacancy on The Buffalo News editorial board. George Pyle joined Kevin Walter and Dawn Bracely on the writing staff this week.
Pyle was a 1998 Pulitzer Prize editorial writing finalist while editorial page editor of the Salina Journal in Kansas, and comes to Buffalo from the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah. He's also a former director of the Prairie Writers Circle and the author of "Raising Less Corn, More Hell: The Case for the Independent Farmer and Against Industrial Food," published in 2005. We're happy he's here.