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The Baltimore Sun

The millennium is young, but for sheer selfish gall by a single public official, we've seen nothing to top this. In 2000, the regents of the revered Smithsonian Institution in Washington hired Lawrence M. Small as director. They then let him set his own $500,000 salary, hide $150,000 as an annual housing allowance, and hire a consultant to justify it all.

He spent 400 of his seven years' worth of work days out of the office, had the books juggled to cover exorbitant personal expenses in ways known only to ardent cheats, and spoke often - and falsely - of a personal donation to the institution from which his more outlandish expenses were drawn.

There's far more, of course, evidencing Mr. Small's own manipulative skills and the regents' neglect. Had they been attentive, Mr. Small's resume would have warned instead of warmed them: His previous employer was the quasi-public, overextended mortgage giant Fannie Mae, which paid him $1 million a year in retirement pay. Other than losing his job, Mr. Small faces only one other penalty: According to an independent report, he ran afoul only of Internal Revenue Service regulations.

That was sufficient, we're reminded, to imprison Al Capone.

- The San Diego Union-Tribune

President Bush is not listening, so states should go their own ways and not listen to him. On Wednesday, Mr. Bush vetoed the second bill within a year to ease restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem-cell research that destroys the embryo.

Congress won't override. The Senate might have enough votes, but the House doesn't. Still, Senate leaders should drum up a resounding response to remind the president that his stance is deaf to public sentiment, scientific consensus, and the suffering of people with incurable neurologic diseases and disorders.

And then? The states should thumb their noses at a policy designed to serve not all the people, but only a favored coterie.

If federal policy insists on remaining backward, then the states must go forward on their own.

- The Philadelphia Inquirer

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