Oregon has a special place in its heart--or, is that hell?--for (former) Attorney General John Ashcroft, who took ample time away from the war on terrorism to pursue moral crusades, like attempts to ban medicinal marijuana and doctor-assisted suicides. Just weeks after September 11, for example, Ashcroft attempted to end the voter-approved Death With Dignity Act in Oregon--efforts that have been turned back four times by federal courts.

But last week, just after announcing his departure from the White House, Ashcroft took a final parting shot at Oregon, saying he would appeal the matter to the Supreme Court. The Court will now need to decide whether to consider the case--or let the lower court ruling against Ashcroft stand. PB

Lately, the city's two weekly newspapers have been getting attention from the big dogs at the New York Times. Two months ago, in an article about changing language, the Sunday Magazine referenced the Mercury for an interview we conducted with Snoop Doggy Dog.

Then, last Sunday, Randy Cohen, the magazine's ethicist, took the Willamette Week to task for their "Rogue of the Week" column.

This past July, the Willamette Week picked on Alex Laws, a local car dealer. Years before Laws owned the dealership in question, customer Mary Ann Schwab purchased a car there and was promised "a lifetime of free oil changes." When Laws recently bought the dealership, Schwab was shocked that the new owner didn't honor the oil change promises from the previous owner. As a result, the Willamette Week called Laws a "Rogue"--even though Laws had done nothing legally wrong.

In Sunday's New York Times Magazine, a friend of the alleged Rogue wrote Cohen to ask: "Didn't he [Laws] assume the duty to honor the previous owner's promises?"

Cohen, who usually finds validity on both sides of an argument, soundly ruled against the Willamette Week.

"The local paper should not have named him Weasel of the Week or Mountebank of the Month or whatever it was," wrote Cohen. "He has behaved honestly."

After reading the ethicist's column, managing editor John Schrag was still unapologetic, rationalizing that Cohen focused more on the legality of the circumstances. "Ethically," complained Schrag, "we still think it stinks." PB