NRA meets in Houston--Beleaguered Tom DeLay will speak

Saturday, April 16, 2005

When the curtains were drawn and the anthem began, confusion flickered over the faces in the large hall which welcomed the NRA (National Rifle Association) to Houston. It was the sounds of rocker Ted Nugent’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. People didn’t know whether to put their hands over their heart, as was customary, or start clapping. According to reports, it was hard to determine what the "Motor City Madman" was doing.

That was the rowdy kick off Friday night of the convention expected to draw up to 60,000 people to the George R. Brown convention center for a weekend of guns, gun-politics, gun peripherals like scopes and carry bags, and stuffed trophy heads.

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre told about 2000 listeners to "Let the enemies of freedom take notice, we in this room have beaten you…" He repeated it three times for effect.

Another opening act was country singer Charlie Daniels whose rant against those on the left of the political spectrum included a characterization of them as "save the whales and kill the babies pantywaists." He then pursed his lips and did his interpretation of a pantywaist, according to the Houston Chronicle: "’If we just leave the terrorists alone, they’d leave us alone.’"

Elsewhere, visitors were charmed by stuffed heads of dead deer. NRA staffer Monty Embrey, working the booth with the heads, said that although they looked like small moose, they were full-blooded deer with unusual antlers.

The exhibit is owned by the NRA and travels around the country. "People don't get to see a collection of heads very often. It’s a big deal," said Embrey.

Tom DeLay is keynote speaker

Saturday’s keynote address will come from right wing congressional representative Tom DeLay of Sugarland, Texas, whose district includes much of Houston.

Just Friday, another of DeLay's most conservative associates became the second House Republican to ask DeLay to consider yielding his leadership post because of the many ethics problems that have dogged him.

Rep. Tom Tancredo, (R-Colo) said, "If the majority leader were to temporarily step aside so that these trumped up charges can be dealt with in a less hostile environment, as they have proven to be an unnecessary distraction, it may be a productive move."

These comments follow on the heels of similar statements by Rep. Chris Shays, a Republican moderate from Connecticut and Rick Santorum, Republican Senator from Pennsylvania. All are concerned that the man in a political leadership position is a liability to their reelection bids, expected next year. He has not assuaged three charges against him by the Congressional Ethics Committee, comprised of half Republican and half Democratic members, except to blame his political opposition.

DeLay's record keeping on millions of dollars was minimal and he has allegedly accepted money from Texas corporations in violation of the Texas law.

"A Travis County grand jury indicted DeLay political aide Jim Ellis, fundraiser Warren RoBold and John Colyandro, the executive director of DeLay's political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, known as TRMPAC.The Washington Post reported in September that eight corporations also were indicted for illegal political contributions."

The subject of DeLay's speech was not known at press time.

The NRA now claims a membership of about 4 million.