Good morning, and welcome to Take Two, our weekly sampler of opinion, drawn from The Sacramento Bee editorial board’s opinion-politics newsletter, The Take. Please sign up by going to sacbee.com/site-services/newsletters/.
Regret, no regrets
Donald Trump expressed regret, telling The New York Times he never would have hired Jeff Sessions as attorney general if he had known Sessions would go all ethical on him by recusing himself from the Russia investigation. Not so O.J. Simpson. He got a parole date, despite admitting nothing and showing no regret. “It’s still O.J.’s America. Nothing has changed,” as our editorial noted. Except Trump is president.
The Republicans’ sick attempt to repeal Obamacare won’t die. But as Foon Rhee writes, the numbers keeping getting uglier. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s latest idea would mean 17 million more uninsured next year and 32 million by 2026, the Congressional Budget Office estimated. The Vegas Review Journal’s Debra J. Saunders wrote that President Trump told Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, over lunch: “Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?” In other words, Trump told Heller, forsake your constituents and vote for the bill, or face a Trump-backed challenge in 2018. Classy.
Gov. Jerry Brown wheeled, dealed, and got the votes for cap and trade, for which he, Kevin de León and Anthony Rendon could rightly take bows. Eight Republicans voted for it. But Republicans were watching Sen. Josh Newman, the Fullerton Democrat who is the target of a GOP-backed recall, after voting in April to raise gasoline taxes to pay for freeway maintenance. No one would have been surprised if Newman ducked the cap-and-trade vote, which probably will raise pump prices further. But Newman joined 26 other Senate Democrats and Republican Sen. Tom Berryhill by voting aye. “That’s what I was hired to do: to participate in the legislative process in a meaningful way,” he told The Take. Yet another reason to recall the guy.
Feeding John & Ken
Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes’ vote for cap and trade prompted L.A. radio blabbers John & Ken to go on the attack over gasoline prices. But that wasn’t driving Mayes-related clicks in Capitol. As the vote approached Monday night, lobbyists who gathered outside the Assembly chambers were chattering about the real story: Some guy no one had heard of had posted a blog item alleging Mayes had an affair with former Assembly Republican leader Kristin Olsen, as later placed into some context by The Bee’s Alexie Koseff. Shockingly, life is messy, marriages break up and, whether the details were true or not, some people (make sure the kids aren’t reading this) have sex.
Mayes’ position as Assembly Republican leader seemed shaky. Republican National Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon, appalled by the cap-and-trade vote and what she and other Republicans saw as Mayes’ tactical stumble, publicly urged his ouster, as Dan Morain wrote. Koseff was in the Assembly on Thursday as Mayes emerged from a private Republican caucus, saying: “We had good conversation” and “I am still the leader.”
Bonding over bail
In the days to come, we’ll revisit the issue of bail. Legislators should take up the issue when they return in August, though judges are concerned about it, as Koseff has written. California’s junior senator, Kamala Harris, is bonding over bail with Sen. Rand Paul, the libertarian-Republican from Kentucky. They co-authored an op-ed for The New York Times in which they opine: “Our justice system was designed with a promise: to treat all people equally. Yet that doesn’t happen for many of the 450,000 Americans who sit in jail today awaiting trial because they cannot afford to pay bail.” Harris and Paul never will be running mates, but this could be the beginning of a beautiful though unlikely friendship.