It looks like George Allen is trying to clean up his image on race before a possible presidential run:
Senator George Allen, a Virginia Republican accused in the past of insensitivity on race issues, introduced a bill on Tuesday to apologize officially for the Senate's role in blocking antilynching legislation through decades of killings across the South.
...In his 2000 campaign to unseat Senator Charles S. Robb, Democrats and civil rights groups accused Mr. Allen of racial callousness for having displayed a noose in his law office and a Confederate flag in his home.
Mr. Allen described those as parts of collections of flags and Western memorabilia. "I had all sort of Western stuff in my office," he said, characterizing what others called a noose as "more of a lasso." He said, "It has nothing to do with lynching."
"More of a lasso"? Here's how the Richmond Times Dispatch originally reported it in 2000:
U.S. Senate candidate George Allen wears his conservative heart on the sleeve of his cowboy shirt and makes no bones about his commitment to law and order.
Visitors to his old law office near downtown Charlottesville used to see a grim and graphic reminder of his view of criminals.
Dangling from a ficus tree in the corner was a noose, a reminder that the Republican politician saw some justification in frontier justice.
And here's how Allen's own campaign manager described it in a Washington Post story during the campaign:
Christopher J. LaCivita, Allen's campaign manager, said the noose was one item in a collection of cowboy memorabilia that Allen displayed in his Charlottesville law office in the early 1990s.
Far from being a racially charged symbol, the noose was an emblem of Allen's tough stance on law-and-order issues, LaCivita said.
This defense was echoed by Allen himself according to a Virginian-Pilot report in 2000:
The noose on a tree outside his law office, he has said, symbolized his belief in strong punishment for violent criminals and was not meant to have racial overtones.
And according to the Richmond Times Dispatch, when Allen was asked about the noose again in September 2004 when he first introduced the bill, a spokesman still did not dispute what it was:
When Allen was asked after his news conference about the Confederate flag, he said he no longer displays it, and that he is a flag collector. Later, an Allen spokesman said the noose was part of an "Old West," law-and-order motif for Allen's former law office, and it had nothing to do with racial issues.
Lasso, noose, what's the difference? I can't believe Allen thinks people are this stupid.
Update 9/14/06 6:21 AM: Attention Talking Points Memo readers -- don't miss my comprehensive post summarizing Allen's ugly racial history.