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Code Pink Seeks Fast Exit For Bush

by Amie Parnes

Leslie Angeline hasn't exactly been shy about her feelings for the Bush administration.

She has protested outside the White House countless times and has been arrested there twice. She has been kicked out of the Capitol twice. And she is currently banned from the Hart Senate Office Building, having been thrown out of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's office.

Her options limited, Angeline tried last month to come up with another way to send a message to the Bush administration and a Congress she thinks has done too much enabling: She stopped eating.

Then she took it a step further. Angeline, 51, took her fast to the office of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), where she vowed to stay and not eat until he agreed to meet with her. One day went by, then another, and another, and finally, on the 10th day of Angeline's sit-in, Conyers agreed to talk with her about the impeachment of Vice President Cheney.

"He was sympathetic," Angeline said, but not sympathetic enough to hold hearings. So Angeline kept fasting - for 25 days in all - until she caught an upper respiratory infection last week and a doctor told her she had to eat.

There's more where she came from.

Hundreds of other members of Code Pink have now stopped eating, too. The Code Pinkers, as members of the much-maligned anti-war women's group call themselves, are trying to convince reluctant congressional Democrats to join Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) in calling for impeachment hearings.

Their argument: In addition to leading the country to war on false premises, the members say the vice president and his boss abused their power by violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and approving the torture of terrorism detainees.

The Code Pinkers were on the Hill Tuesday, going door to door as they tried to make their case to lawmakers who weren't particularly interested in the spectacle of impeachment hearings when Cheney and President Bush had years to go in office and are even less interested now that they're in the home stretch.

Among the supplicants Tuesday was 54-year-old Ellen Taylor, a former environmental engineer from Bryan, Texas. Pale-faced, hungry and admittedly "a little spaced out" as a result of not having eaten much for 15 days, Taylor made her rounds with a sign on her back that said, "Hungry for justice? Impeach him fast."

Her motives were both large and small. She wants to see Cheney impeached. She also wants lunch.

"I'm really hoping this will happen, because I would really like to eat a sub sandwich," Taylor told a staffer for Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). Taylor handed the staffer a packet on why his boss should call for impeachment hearings.

The staffer nodded and the lady in pink moved on.

The Code Pinkers aren't hunger-striking, exactly. They're fasting - surviving, in Taylor's case, on water, clear juices, miso soup and soy shakes. "A fast is about cleansing," literally and metaphorically, Taylor explained. "This country has built a lot of toxins. ... We can't have this toxic stew sitting here."

Every morning, Angeline, Taylor and a group of other Code Pinkers gather in their (pink) headquarters on Capitol Hill, where they sit in their (pink) bathrobes, in their (mostly pink) living room, and plot their next moves and machinations. Slowly, they insist, they are reaching each member of the Judiciary Committee.

"We're within three or four votes," Taylor said, ticking off the names of committee members who may or may not support their call for impeachment hearings.

On Tuesday, Taylor and Angeline showed up at Conyers' office to remind him they're not giving up.

Conyers wasn't there - he was off campaigning for Sen. Barack Obama - but a staffer listened patiently as Taylor and Angeline made a five-minute pitch for hearings.

When they were done, the ladies in pink said, "Thank you."

The staffer said, "Best of luck with your fast."

A spokeswoman for the House Judiciary Committee said Tuesday that an impeachment hearing is "not going to happen."

© 2008 Politic.com

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