Lee Scott, Civil Rights Activist (Really!)

Lee Scott, Civil Rights Activist (Really!)

Lee Scott, Civil Rights Activist (Really!)

Talk about surprising developments, Wal-Mart has done something good.

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You probably didn’t realize that “Wal-Mart Nation” doubles as a gossip column. Here’s a blind item, Page Six-style: Which conservative Republican Senator recently confided to a liberal activist in an airport: “I really hate Wal-Mart”?

I’ll never tell, but with enemies this diverse, Wal-Mart is in big trouble.

Still, let’s not overlook our more predictable friends, who are doing much to help at the moment. Senators Ted Kennedy and Jon Corzine, as well as Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) recently introduced the Health Care Accountability Act, which would require states to report annually on the number of employees of large corporations who receive health care from the taxpayers rather than through employer-funded plans. This bill grows out of–and certainly adds momentum to–the growing grass-roots effort to hold Wal-Mart accountable, and could advance the conversation on the need for national health care, too. (Check out the “Make Wal-Mart Care About Health Care” campaign at wakeupwalmart.com.) Let your legislators know they should support it. Even–perhaps especially–if they’re Republicans.

Speaking of surprising developments, Wal-Mart has done something good. CEO Lee Scott wrote Bush a letter, pressing him to renew the Voting Rights Act of 1965, The Hill reported in June. The move resulted from the company’s cozy courtship of the Congressional Black Caucus (and an ongoing, aggressive effort by the company to politically ingratiate itself with African-Americans). Obviously, this development is complex: It will be unfortunate if the CBC refrains from criticizing Wal-Mart as a result, at a time when other politicians are finally speaking out. (Will CBC members support Kennedy’s health care bill?) Then again, better that Wal-Mart’s lobbying budget should be spent on civil rights than on its own far-right, anti-worker agenda, and anyone following recent elections knows the VRA is still badly needed.

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