This news regarding Air Force Three for Speaker Pelosi is amazing.
Does anyone have any idea how this would be covered if, say... Newt Gingrich was pushing to increase the size of the plane from a 12 seater to a 70 seater jumbo-jet? And taking that valuable resource from the armed forces during a time of war?!?!
And we know why she wants this big of a plane - it's not for refueling. It's so she can wine & dine reporters, supporter, and contributors while she travels in luxury.
Here are bits from two stories, this one from the San Francisco Gate:
Former Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert used a military 12-seat jet to carry him mainly from Washington's Andrews Air Force Base to airports near his home district in Chicago's suburbs.
Top House Republicans such as Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri and Rep. Adam Putnam of Florida, chairman of the House Republican Conference, agree the speaker merits the use of a military jet for security reasons, but say Pelosi has been pressing the Pentagon to provide her with a bigger jet than used by Hastert so she can ferry family, other lawmakers and lobbyists across the country.
Pelosi and her staff scoff at the criticism, saying she has just asked the Pentagon for guidance because of the travel distance to California and even President Bush believes security concerns warrant military aircraft for her.
But Putnam said Pelosi's bid for a bigger plane, which he dubbed "Air Force Three,'' shows "an arrogance of office that just defies common sense'' and constitutes a major deviation from the previous speaker's perks. He argued that Pelosi should settle for a smaller plane even if it means having to stop for refueling while traveling to and from California.
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., the Pelosi ally who chairs the House military appropriations subcommittee, said he has spoken to Pentagon officials about the need to provide Pelosi with a bigger plane that can fly passengers coast to coast in comfort.
But he denied pressuring the Pentagon. "I don't need to pressure them. I just tell them what they need to do,'' Murtha said.
A statement from Livingood said that although Hastert used a military jet with a 2,000-mile range, the House bureaucracy is unsure of the rules for air travel. For instance, it isn't clear if Pelosi can carry staff, family or other members of Congress at government expense or whether she could use government planes for political travel.
No information was immediately available about the number of trips Hastert took in military aircraft nor the rules for their usage while he was speaker.
Livingood, a 31-year veteran of the Secret Service, said he was talking with the Air Force to work out guidelines for the speaker's flights. Pelosi's office received a letter from the Pentagon late Wednesday offering her the continued use of the plane used by Hastert and negotiations will continue, source said.
Navy Cmdr. Jefrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, told the Associated Press Wednesday that Pelosi will be offered "shuttle service for no more than 10 passengers between Washington and San Francisco only based on aircraft availability."
"This does not guarantee nonstop transport," Gordon said.
Pelosi also said that her celebrity as the first female speaker has upgraded security concerns from the U.S. Capitol Police who guard her and other top congressional leaders. "As the first woman speaker they think there is a need for increased security,'' she said.
Wherever she goes, even within the Capitol, the speaker is accompanied by several plainclothes security officers.
Murtha said House speakers' use of military planes preceded Sept. 11, 2001. He said he had interceded on behalf of former Democratic Speakers Thomas "Tip" O'Neill and Jim Wright on occasion to get them access to military aircraft.
Murtha said he is convinced the Pentagon has been leaking information about the possibility that Pelosi would use large military planes to make her look bad. But he said, "They're making a mistake when they leak it because she decides on allocations for them,'' referring to the Pentagon budget.
Pelosi, who has served in the House since 1987, has customarily flown commercial flights on trips to and from California.
Her spokesman, Brendan Daly, said Pelosi has used a military craft once to fly to California and back since she became speaker in early January. Daly said he was uncertain what kind of aircraft Pelosi had flown in, but said it was a plane that Hastert had used as speaker.
Daly had no information on the cost of the flight.
Among the models in the Air Force fleet that Pelosi could use to fly nonstop to San Francisco is the C-37, a 16-seat business jet made by Gulfstream with a range of 5,600 miles.
The C-40B, a military version of the Boeing 737, was built especially to carry members of the Cabinet and Congress, Boeing says. What the company calls the flying "office in the sky" can carry 42 to 111 passengers, depending on its configuration.
The Air Force said the plane features "a crew rest area, distinguished visitor compartment with sleep accommodations, two galleys and business class seating with worktables.''
But Republicans charged that Pelosi would use the biggest aircraft available -- a C-32, which is a configuration of the Boeing 757 with a four-section passenger area.
I love how Murtha's "not pressuring" the military - he's just "telling them what they need to do." While at the same time making a not-so-veiled threat regarding appropriations for the military budget.
This is unbelievable. And now this one from the Washington Times:
In an interview on Fox News, Mrs. Pelosi said the plane request was not hers.
"I wish I didn't have to have so much security, because I like my freedom of mobility," she said, adding that she would be willing to fly commercial aviation. "I'm not asking to go on that plane. If you need to take me there for security purposes, you're going to have to get a plane that goes across the country."
[it's getting deep in here!!!]
But Mrs. Pelosi's requests for the larger jet still has drawn ridicule from Republicans, who have dubbed the requested plane "Pelosi One."
It's especially galling, they say, since Mrs. Pelosi and her fellow Democrats ran on campaigns to clear out many of the perks provided to lawmakers.
One of the first changes she made to the rules governing House members was to ban free air travel by members of Congress on corporate-owned or chartered planes.
"So let's get this straight," Republican Study Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring said in a statement yesterday that reproduced a picture of a transcontinental U.S. military jet. "During a week in which Democrats are pushing a resolution that states, 'it is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating the United States military force presence in Iraq,' they believe that securing Speaker Pelosi the military plane pictured below for luxury flights is in the national interest?"
Come on... If this were Gingrich, is there any doubt what would be leading MSNBC's Keith Olberman, Chris Matthews, the MSM broadcasts morning, noon, and night?
GatewayPundit also covers the Global Warming angle of the story here.
ARC: St Wendeler