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Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Editorial

Those silly attacks on Sen. Patty Murray

Election time is the silly season, and state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance and Congressman George Nethercutt already have started the shenanigans for the 2004 U.S. senate campaign.

Their gasbaggery last week over U.S. Sen. Patty Murray's conversation with a Vancouver, Wash., high-school class was all spin and distortion.

Wednesday, Columbia River High School honor students studying world history were treated to a discussion with their U.S. senator about world events and U.S. policy. Murray, a former teacher, noted many people in the Muslim nations view the United States with suspicion and posed a question:

"We've got to ask, why is this man (Osama bin Laden) so popular around the world? Why are people so supportive of him in many countries that are riddled in poverty?"

She noted the wealthy bin Laden, believed to be an architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has established goodwill because over the years he built buildings, roads and other facilities for poor areas.

She probed further: "How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?"

While Murray voted against Bush's war resolution, she supports the war on terrorism and wants bin Laden brought to justice.

Nevertheless, Vance's press release has Murray sending a message that the "United States somehow deserved or brought on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."

Oh please, what nonsense!

A couple paragraphs later, Vance gets to his objective: "If Patty Murray really believes what she said, she should think twice about running for re-election."

Slow day around the office, Mr. Vance?

And Nethercutt, R-Spokane, released a statement full of innuendo, saying, "Congress is a place of debate. I guess we now know which side Sen. Murray will be debating from when Congress resumes."

Then Nethercutt, who voted in 1997 to withdraw from the United Nations, delivers his upshot: "I would welcome the chance to have a one-on-one debate with Sen. Murray on this topic."

Testing the political waters, congressman?

Fact is, Murray's information about bin Laden is right. The Associated Press quoted a bin Laden expert saying the senator's comments were "a generalization, but mostly accurate." Sen. Murray challenged bright students, who might be soldiers in the war on terrorism, to make sense of our nation's circumstances. How subversive!

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