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"Not one time in 11 years have I ever been criticized by the media. Not because I was always right, but because they know I tell the truth."
"If he's never been criticized by the press, he better not go to Columbia."

An exchange between Florence Mayor Frank Willis and state Senator Tommy Moore, respectively, in the Democratic Gubernatorial Debate held last week at the Francis Marion Hotel.

Donkeys Debate ·
Last Thursday, the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary Debate was held at the Francis Marion Hotel. The candidates, State Sen. Tommy Moore and Florence Mayor Frank Willis, engaged in verbal sparring after the $100-a-plate buffet and beverages. The debate was sponsored by the Charleston Democratic Party and was moderated by John Frank, lead political reporter for The Post and Courier, and Jamie McKown, Visiting Professor of Communication at the College of Charleston. Questions addressed national hot-button issues like abortion and gay marriage as well as local topics such as proposed smoking bans, the elimination of the gas tax, statewide college scholarship programs, and expanded offshore oil drilling. The candidates have distinct differences of opinion on the national issues. Willis calls himself "very pro-choice," and supports extending 14th Amendment protections to gay couples, while Moore is morally opposed to abortion, but supports Roe v. Wade and believes that marriage is a right that should be reserved for heterosexual couples. They agree more on issues unique to South Carolina. Both strongly oppose offshore drilling and Gov. Sanford's proposed elimination of the gas tax. Of offshore drilling, Willis said, "I have three words on the issue: no, no, and no." The debate was sprinkled with moments of levity. When asked to share a piece of uncommon knowledge about themselves with the audience, Moore said, "You'd never guess I love to cook. I test it on my family and no one has died." Willis responded, "I wish you'd come to my house and cook. My wife's idea of a good dinner is a box of Cheez-Its, and she will tell you that too!" The primary will be held on June 13. To view video of the debate, visit the Charleston Party's website at www.charlestondems.comElle Lien

$100 million

That's the amount of money that the preservation and promotion of the Hunley submarine is predicted to cost, with 85 percent expected to be paid by taxpayers. Source: The State

16.75¢

That's the amount of tax per gallon that Gov. Sanford proposes eliminating for the summer months, resulting in an estimated per-week savings of $2.50. Drivers of gas-guzzling SUVs should expect to save more, courtesy of their conspicuous consumption. Source: The Greenville News and The State

#20

That's Sen. Lindsey Graham's "Power Ranking" on Congress.org. The ranking is determined by 15 factors and 289 variables such as position in Congress, actions taken to influence legislative agenda, and legislative success. 20 out of 100 ain't bad. Good work, Senator. Source: Knowlegis at Congress.org

Columbia Week in Review ·
The House Judiciary Committee presented a bill to the Senate last week that clamps down on hog-dog fights and cockfighting. The two issues were joined after the cockfighting measure stalled in the Senate last year. You may recall the uproar surrounding the passage of the cockfighting bill on the same day the House squashed a domestic violence bill. Both assaults were led by Rep. John Graham Altman III. Of women in domestic violence situations, Altman said, "There ought not to be a second offense. The woman ought to not be around the man. I mean you women want it one way and not another." Of the hog-dog-cockfighting bill Altman said, "I have no patience, sympathy, or understanding for people who would pay to watch hogs or dogs tear each other apart." Would the Representative change his tune on domestic violence if it became a pay-to-see blood sport? Plans to eliminate the state's gas tax are running on fumes. Gov. Sanford tried to drum up support for the bill in a press conference on May 16, but approval looks unlikely. The proposal, which would eliminate the state's 16.4 cents-a-gallon tax, is seen as vote-pandering by detractors. Amendments to the bill have limited the tax cut to the summer months to stave off these criticisms. Currently, most of the gas tax goes to the Department of Transportation for road projects. Transportation authorities argue that losing tax collections would hurt these projects. Others say the savings would not even reach consumers. Rep. Bob Walker proposed a bill last Tuesday that would require all new textbooks to incorporate "critical thinking and analysis." The House committee rejected the bill, not because they are opposed to critical thinking and analysis --—as you might suspect — but because the bill would introduce critical thinking and analysis into the way evolution is taught in schools. —EL

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