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The Edge 

Taft packs his baggage; Riches and ruin; Trash-talkin' Traficant

No doubt Governor Taft would like to see some Ohio Republicans filling the ranks of the Bush administration, if for no other reason than to dilute the merry band of lunatics making their way to Washington. But the smart money sees an auxiliary motive behind Bob's push to get a Justice Department post for Lieutenant Governor Maureen O'Connor. Lee Leonard, capitol correspondent for The Columbus Dispatch, says the word in Columbus is that Bob and Maureen don't exactly pound beers after work together, and that their bond largely stems from Taft's need to get a northern Ohioan on the ticket.

A Bush appointment, Democrats say, would allow Taft to grab some prestige for state Republicans, while simultaneously catapulting an unwanted office mate. "Sometimes you get addition by subtraction," says Kena Hudson, a spokesperson for the Ohio Democratic Party. "It looks like Taft doesn't really have best interests of the Bush administration [in mind]. I think he just wants to unload some baggage there."

It's the post-holiday season. You're broke, and you're wondering why your hard day's toil hasn't led to a fatter paycheck. But have you ever considered leading your own company to stagnation or decline? That's how two Cleveland CEOs learned to invigorate their pocketbooks.

In 1999, TRW chief Joseph Gorman took home $4.2 million, according to Crain's. Though Gorman got a 48 percent raise over the year before, TRW's net income fell 1.7 percent. At least TRW can point to increased revenue of 42 percent in '99. Over at American Greetings, the reasoning becomes more specious. Its CEO, one Morry Weiss, got a 22 percent raise in '99. This despite nasty falls in revenue and net income, the latter tumbling by more than 50 percent . . .

This week's Unintentional Self-Parody Award goes to Congressman Jim "Lost Planet" Traficant for his appearance on CNN's Crossfire, during which the Youngstown Democrat praised Ollie North and Rush Limbaugh, insinuated that Dick Gephardt is testicularly challenged, and claimed party hacks are behind Traficant's impending indictment. He also said he may take over Democratic House leadership "by force," threatened to kick the "assets" of his party foes, and called out the attorney general: "I'm saying, 'Sue me, Janet Reno. Jim Traficant says you're a traitor.'"

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