George W. just says no

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Nevada Republicans got what they wanted out of George W. Bush.

It came in the form of a letter Friday to Gov. Kenny Guinn, who had asked for some help on the pesky nuclear waste issue.

"I would veto legislation that would provide for the temporary storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain," Bush wrote.

Bush's Democratic opponent for president, Al Gore, already had made a similar statement. The perception was that Nevada Republicans were looking a bit foolish in their campaign to keep nuclear waste out of the state when they couldn't get their presidential candidate to back them up.

Guinn took a significant stand last week by cutting off a potential water supply that the federal Department of Energy wanted to tap as it developed a nuke-storage site.

With Bush's statement in hand, Nevada Republicans have bolstered their position on nuclear waste.

That should help John Ensign in particular as he had watched his double-digit lead over Democrat Ed Bernstein begin to erode in the race for U.S. Senate to replace Richard Bryan.

Nuclear waste remains the biggest statewide issue in Nevada. We expect Ensign will win his race, but many voters may have decided how to cast their ballots specifically on that issue.

Although we don't want to read too much into it, we were nevertheless intrigued that it was Guinn - not Ensign - who sought and obtained the promise from Bush.

The Republican party's platform generally supports dumping nuclear waste on Nevada, and the question for Ensign - who is anti-nuke dump - is whether he can be effective within the party and within Congress in doing something to block it.

Ensign, as well as U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons and U.S. House candidate Jon Porter, should have been able to make that point without Guinn's help.


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