A picture is worth a thousand words: So reasoned Interior Secretary Gale Norton when she mailed copies of a videotape of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to major television stations and encouraged news producers to use the footage in their coverage of the debate over drilling. (In contrast to videos of the Arctic Refuge produced by conservation organizations, which generally feature wildlife and breathtaking views, the video shows a desolate-looking winterscape.) According to Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Norton committed a major no-no. The video was developed by Arctic Power, a pro-drilling lobbying group, and Markey says Norton illegally used her office — and by extension taxpayer money — to distribute propaganda from a special-interest group. An Interior spokesperson denied any wrongdoing on Norton’s part. Meanwhile, Republicans bought extra time to prepare for the showdown over the Arctic Refuge when the Senate agreed to postpone introduction of the GOP drilling proposal until next Tuesday.

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