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Zig Zag Zell

America's Most Discredited Senator, In His Own Words

Sen. Zell Miller (D) of Georgia is giving the keynote address at tonight's Republican National Convention. He says he is going to be part of a truth squad. But a look at Miller's vast history of dishonesty and self-contradiction shows he is a man whose words have absolutely no credibility whatsoever.

Sen. Zell Miller (D) of Georgia is giving the keynote address at tonight’s Republican National Convention. He says he is going to be part of a truth squad. But a look at Miller’s vast history of dishonesty and self-contradiction shows he is a man whose words have absolutely no credibility whatsoever.

TAXES – Openly Contradicting Himself

ZELL MILLER’S WORDS: “Republicans sold us out with a generation of trickle-down economics that blew the deficit sky-high, drove poverty through the roof, and squeezed the middle class like a lemon at a county fair. They gave themselves the goldmine, and they gave the rest of us the shaft.” [Source: Zell Miller speech, 2/25/96]

ZELL MILLER’S DEEDS: Sen. Zell Miller voted for almost $2 trillion in tax breaks, the majority of which go to wealthy Americans. Those tax cuts he voted for created the largest deficit in American history, at the same time poverty rose for two straight years for the first time in almost a decade. Miller said, “I’m proud that I was a part of [the tax cuts] as a principal cosponsor.” [Source: Zell Miller’s book, 2003]

SOCIAL SECURITY & DEFICITS – Serving Up More Waffles than a Waffle House

ZELL MILLER’S WORDS: In 2000, Miller said he “supports protecting Social Security and paying down federal debt as higher priorities than tax cuts.” He also stated, “I think the best tax cut we could give to our children is to use the budget surplus to pay down the national debt.” [Sources: Florida Times-Union, 11/5/2000; Macon Telegraph, 10/30/2000]

ZELL MILLER’S DEEDS: Miller voted for the president’s two major tax cuts, which make up the largest contributing factor to the record-high deficits. He also supports the White House’s proposal to make those tax cuts permanent. According to the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, at a time of concern about Social Security’s solvency, the plan Miller and the White House have pushed will “cost more than three times as much over the next 75 years as the entire 75-year Social Security shortfall.” Even when Miller had a chance to live up to his promises, he refused. When the Senate pushed to cut President Bush’s tax cuts in half and divert the resources saved into paying down the debt and shoring up Social Security, Miller skipped the vote. [Sources: CBPP, 3/17/03; Senate Vote #93, 3/25/03]

HOMELAND SECURITY – A Willingness to Be Dishonest About National Security

ZELL MILLER’S WORDS: When Republicans attacked the patriotism of triple amputee Vietnam War hero Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA) because he voted against controversial provisions of the Homeland Security bill, Zell Miller was outraged. He said, “My friend Max deserves better than to be slandered like this.” [Gainesville Sun, 10/16/02]

ZELL MILLER’S DEEDS: In 2004, Miller appeared on Fox News to disparage Democrats for trying to shape the best Homeland Security bill possible. He said Democrats “time and time again opposed President Bush’s Bill that wanted to set up a Homeland Security Department” – ignoring the fact that Democrats were the first to propose such a department, and that the White House actually originally opposed the idea. He also forgot to mention that all but eight Democrats voted for the bill. [Source: Fox News, 1/15/04; Senate Vote #249, 11/19/02]

ELECTION 2004 – Ignoring His Own Praise to Suck Up to the GOP

ZELL MILLER’S WORDS: In a 2001 speech, Miller called Kerry “one of this nation’s authentic heroes, one of this party’s best-known and greatest leaders – and a good friend.” He said, “John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington…He fought for balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for Democrats to do so. John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment.” [Source: Zell Miller speech, 2001]

ZELL MILLER’S DEEDS: In an effort to ingratiate himself to the White House, Miller in May 2004 gave a speech claiming, “With John Kerry on national security, it’s vacillate, retreat and turn over to the U.N. With John Kerry on domestic policy, it’s tax, spend and redistribute income.” He called Kerry’s Senate voting record on national security “shameful,” even though Kerry has cast the exact same votes on intelligence funding as Miller. [Source: AP, 5/15/04; Senate Votes, 12/06/00; 12/13/01; 9/25/02; 11/21/03]

The Record He Doesn’t Want You To See

A look at Zell Miller’s past – and present – shows that beyond the folksiness is a politician with a questionable civil rights record, and a history of using his public office to pad his own wallet.

CIVIL RIGHTS – An Embarrassing Record, Noted By Many

CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS CONDEMN ZELL’S MOCKERY OF THE TERM ‘LYNCHING’: “Zell Miller of Georgia came under fire from civil rights activists who demanded an apology from the conservative Democrat after he equated his party’s opposition to the nomination of a conservative African-American judge to a lynching. ‘Either Senator Miller has conveniently forgotten a frightening period of American history, or he is willfully demeaning all those African-Americans who were hung from trees throughout the period of racial segregation in the South,’ said Wade Henderson, the director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.” [CNN.com, 11/14/03]

RIDING THE COATTAILS OF A RACIST GOVERNOR: According to the Augusta, Georgia, Chronicle, “Miller got started as executive secretary to Gov. Lester Maddox 30 years ago,” became his chief of staff, and rode Maddox’s name to his own prominence. According to the Washington Post, Maddox was an open segregationist, who “chased African Americans out of his restaurant with an ax handle.” According to the Georgia Humanities Council, after the death of Atlanta native Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Maddox greatly overreacted with a heavy-handed police presence, and he refused to order flags at state facilities to be lowered to half-mast. As the leader of the state’s delegation to the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, Maddox fought against the civil rights aims of the party.” [Augusta Chronicle, Editorial, 9/13/98; Washington Post, 2/14/04; GeorgiaEncyclopedia.com – Georgia Humanities Council and the University of Georgia Press]

ZELL LED PUBLIC OPPOSITION TO CIVIL RIGHTS ACT: As a congressional candidate in 1964, Miller not only pledged to vote against the Civil Rights Act, he attacked those who were pushing it. He said President Lyndon Johnson “is a southerner who has sold his birthright for a mess of dark porridge.” As Georgia history professor James Cobb said, “Had he lived and run again, Kennedy would not have benefited in Georgia from the opposition to the Civil Rights Act voiced by a certain congressional candidate in 1964,” Zell Miller. U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D), who led the fight for civil rights, said of Miller’s conduct, “It is unbelievable. It is unreal. It is a shame and a disgrace. This is the same Zell Miller who said 40 years ago that President Lyndon Johnson had sold his soul when he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”  [Source: Front Page Magazine, 11/28/03; Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 11/9/03; Office of Congressman John Lewis, 6/25/04]

BUSINESS – Conflicts of Interest Galore

USING THE GOVERNORSHIP TO CASH IN WITH BIG TOBACCO:  “Zell Miller moved to easy street within months of leaving the Georgia governor’s mansion, according to documents filed in connection with his race to hold onto his newly appointed U.S. Senate seat. His earnings increased nearly six-fold – to about $682,000 – as he brought home paychecks from three colleges, numerous corporate boards and tobacco products giant Philip Morris, for whom he worked as a consultant.” [AP, 8/25/00]

GOP DEMANDS MILLER ANSWER CONFLICT OF INTEREST CHARGES: When Miller immediately began raking in corporate cash after leaving the governor’s office, “Chuck Clay, chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, said it sounds like Miller was a lobbyist and called for him to explain further the exact nature of his duties. ‘I think it does raise questions when you have become a lobbyist. Legitimate questions should be asked about the nature of those relationships. What were you doing for your pay?’ Clay said.” [AP, 8/25/00]

POLITICS – Betraying the People Who Elected Him

USUALLY SOFT-SPOKEN CARTER SAYS MILLER HAS MISLED HIS OWN STATE: “Former President Jimmy Carter says the appointment of Georgia’s Zell Miller to the Senate was a mistake because his fellow ex-governor ‘betrayed all the basic principles that I thought he and I and others shared,’ the former president first said. ‘I would rather not even comment about Zell Miller on the radio,’ then proceeded to call the appointment ‘one of the worst mistakes’ then-Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes made in his four years in office.” [Atlanta Journal Constitution, 12/11/03]