Political hopes and dreams

The Madison County Record Oct. 17, 2004, 12:00am




Senator Censor

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) loves free speech. Unless, that is, he doesn't like it.

Durbin blew a gasket last week after learning that Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns television stations serving Metro East and elsewhere, would broadcast a documentary that chronicles the antiwar activities of his chosen candidate for president, Sen. John Kerry.

"Sinclair Broadcast Group is notorious for abusing the airwaves with their own political views," Durbin told the Springfield State Journal-Register. He went on to also complain about an unnamed "political commentator" Sinclair was "forcing down the throats" of its viewers.

Now you don't hear us complaining about CBS "forcing" Dan Rather and his "political views" down our throats. We just don't watch him in the first place. Rather goes against 'That 70's Show' reruns on Channel 11, so its a slam dunk choice.

Someone ought to turn Illinois' Senior Senator on to the clicker.

Around these parts, the documentary will run this week on KDNL-TV (ABC) Channel 30 St. Louis, KBSI-TV (FOX) Channel 22 Cape Girardeau, and WDKA-TV (WB) Channel 49 Paducah, Kentucky.

Check your local listings for times.

Calling its shot

Perhaps we're out of the loop, but we didn't know until we read it in last week's Chicago Tribune that eight-term U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Belleville) has statewide ambitions.

In endorsing Costello's determined but long-shot Republican opponent, Evansville lawyer Erin Zweigart, Illinois' most-read newspaper admonished Costello and made a subtle threat.

"Democratic Rep. Jerry Costello has ambitions to run for statewide office, " the Tribune wrote."If he does, he'll have to explain why he was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case that sent one of Costello's close friends to prison."

Sounds ominous. Here’s guessing no Costello explanation will win over the Tribune’s high-minded editorial board.

That said, the Costello rumor mill starts here and now. Do you have a scoop on his Springfield hopes and dreams? Email us what you know to costello@madisonrecord.com.

Doctors in the Vioxx crosshairs?

In the "business" world of plaintiff's attorneys, nothing his more sizzling these days than Vioxx.

Lawyers here and elsewhere are filing product liabillity lawsuits against drugmaker Merck. But will the doctors who prescribed the anti-inflammatory drug also soon be in their sights?

Plaintiff's lawyer Robert Sullivan told the New York Law Journal that doctors who chose Vioxx for their patients over alleged "safer alternatives" may well become defendants.

As of our press deadline, no doctor had been named as a defendant in a Vioxx lawsuit here in Madison County.

Sullivan also predicted that within four years, Vioxx would become the third-largest "mass tort" behind asbestos and tobacco. And he's doing his part-- Sullivan filed two lawsuits in New York last week and claims to have "signed up" more than 200 Vioxx plaintiffs.

Three Vioxx lawsuits have been filed in Madison County this month.

Up in Smoke

It's worth noting that in spreading its money around, Altria Corporation (a.k.a. Philip Morris) made a $1,500 campaign donation to Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville) on October 7.

It beats us why a big tobacco company--rung up for $10.1 billion last year in Madison County’s courts-- is supporting the candidacy of Hoffman, a true blue Madison County trial lawyer.

Does the tobacco giant think a little measly walking around money will drive Hoffman, a partner at the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River, to make a plea to call off the dogs?

Whatever Altria is thinking, the Collinsville native is clearly doing something right.

Back in November 2003, it only gave Hoffman $1,000.

Meanwhile, oral arguments in Philip Morris’ Illinois Supreme Court appeal of its record Madison County verdict are set to start up in November.

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