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Great balls of fire! Dan Njegomir, The Gazette's intrepid editorial page editor for the past seven years, has deserted his post. Run off to Denver, Dan has, joining ranks with the liberals and other infidels.

We caught up with Dan last Friday, his last day on his job spewing out the daily's Pepto-Bismol inspiring editorial rantings. Usually caustic and edgy, Dan sounded positively subdued. "Read about it in the Sunday Gazette," he would only say, about his immediate departure to join the bipartisan think tank Bighorn Center for Public Policy in Denver.

When pressed, Dan countered, "Tell 'em you ran me out of town."

Disappointing.

Sunday's sendoff to Dan was equally canned. A below-the-fold editorial mostly focused on the New King in Town, Sean Paige, who is coming at us all the way from Washington, D.C.

So who is this guy, Paige? To find out, we started with a pal of ours who works at the Washington Times, the conservative daily owned by Sun Myung Moon (we do have friends in high places).

"He's a babe!" squealed the staffer, who we will not embarrass with identification of either name or gender.

Unfortunately, the jury's still out on that one, as the Public Eye was unable to reach Paige prior to publication. This week, George Lewis, copy editor of The Gazette's letters to the editor section, said that Paige is still in transition, moving to Colorado, and won't officially begin his new job until Aug. 5.

As for the new boss's babehood, Lewis admitted that, "I can honestly say he didn't do anything for me."

So what can we expect from our new right-wing ideologue? Well, let's take a look at his background: From 1988 to 1989, Paige worked as a personal aide to John Sununu. Three years later Paige worked as the press secretary for Alan Keyes.

John Sununu! Alan Keyes! How can we possibly decide which of these powerbars taste better?

For those of us who can remember back to the good old days, Sununu served as Chief of Staff during the reign of George I and held the dubious honor of being the fourth most joked about politician in Washington. According to the Center for Media and Public Affairs, in 1991 Sununu fell behind Saddam Hussein, Dan Quayle and George Bush, but handily whupped such luminaries as fallen minister Jimmy Swaggart and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in the late-night TV wars.

When the embattled Sununu resigned, thenVice President Quayle dismissed claims of the Chief of Staff's reputed lack of flexibility with one of his famous one-liners: "This isn't a man who is leaving with his head between his legs." (During Quayle's campaign for president in 2000, Sununu told reporters that "Dan Quayle is the smartest candidate in the bunch, and the most experienced.")

Keyes, meanwhile, has tried, but never made it to the big time. In 1992, during his Senate run, he pocketed $100,000 of his own campaign contributions. At the time -- remember, Paige was his mouthpiece -- Keyes brushed off the bonus. "That money was for working eight- to twelve-hour days -- it was not a welfare check."

Keyes honed remarkably offensive positions during subsequent bids for the presidency in 1996 and 2000, claiming that sex outside of marriage is corrupt; that AIDS is a disease rooted in moral crisis; and homosexuality is "the unbridled sort of satisfaction of human passions [that] leads to totalitarianism, Nazism and communism."

Of course, it isn't fair to judge a man merely by the politicians he once worked for. But it is relevant to consider the kind of leaders that gets Paige's juices flowing.

So what has Paige been doing since the Sununu/Keyes salad days? Besides working as a columnist for a publication owned by the above-mentioned Washingtom Times, for the past two years, he has also worked as an adjunct fellow and editorial director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank.

According to PR Watch, the Institute postures itself as an advocate of "sound science," but, in fact, "is an ideologically driven, well-funded front for corporations opposed to safety and environmental regulations that affect the way they do business."

For a taste of what's to come, check out Paige's anti-environment, inside-the-Beltway musings (plus his mug) at

www.cei.org/dyn/view_expert.cfm?expert=164.

Obviously The Gazette already loves him. As associate publisher Jon Stepleton indicated last Sunday, "We are confident that Sean Paige will prove to be a worthy successor to Dan [Njegomir], at once highly engaging and thought-provoking."

Words escape me. Almost. Dan! Come home! All is forgiven!

-- degette@csindy.com

  • Cara DeGette on turning the Paige at the daily

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