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Perry_Norquist.JPGAnti-tax activist Grover Norquist's plan to name 3,000 items after former President Ronald Reagan - including a mountain overlooking Las Vegas - drew a tongue-in-cheek endorsement from California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton.

Burton, a former state legislator, said in the open letter Monday that he remembers "fondly" when then-Gov. Reagan signed the largest tax increase in more than a century and approved a bill that "liberalized abortion," the Therapeutic Abortion Act.

"I think it's wonderful that you're willing to honor somebody who has such a liberal progressive record," Burton wrote to Norquist.

The president of Americans for Tax Reform wasn't amused, calling the letter "childish" and pointing to Reagan's role in ending the Cold War.

"How does he look Polish Americans in the eye and say that the legacy of Ronald Reagan was a tax increase in California or a vote on therapeutic abortions in California?" Norquist said.

In an interview with The Bee, he compared Burton's argument to "attacking Eisenhower for something he did when he was 40 and missing the Second World War."

He said Republicans were far more accepting of naming things after John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and suggested Democrats should be more open.

"It's a petty partisan jab at naming things after the greatest Californian in American history and one of the greatest presidents we've had who turned the economy around from a failure created by a House, Senate and president all from Mr. Burton's party," Norquist said.

This isn't the first time the two have sparred, with one notable exchange centering on Gov. Jerry Brown's successful push to raise taxes. Norquist said golf and cocaine would be "more constructive" ways to spend time than negotiating with Democrats.

"I have always considered golf a good walk spoiled," Burton responded. "As a recovering cocaine addict, I am surprised that anyone would think that it is at all constructive to spend one's free time using that drug."

"One would think that Mr. Norquist made this comment with a straw in his hand bending over a mirror full of white (powder)."

Norquist at the time shot back at California Democrats for their attention to him.

"Focus on cutting the spending, guys," he said.

PHOTO: Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, right, talks with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, left, before a panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md. The Associated Press/Susan Walsh



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