- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 5, 2000

Noble: Laura Bush, for being the antidote to eight years of Hillary Clinton. Republican vice presidential candidate Richard B. Cheney made it clear in his convention speech that a vote for the Republican ticket would be a vote to clean house the White House. George W. Bush confirmed this in his own speech; he is the candidate focused on hope for the future and unity the antithesis of Bill Clinton.

But there is another area of the Clinton house that needs disinfectant the little corner occupied by Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Clinton has been too partisan, too involved and too contentious for far too long for a first lady. After watching Laura Bush's speech at the convention many Americans see George W.'s wife a welcome relief from Mrs. Clinton. She makes no pretense to being a policy wonk. Mrs. Bush's big splash in Washington would be that she wouldn't make a big splash.

Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, made nothing but waves. Remember her statement that she was no Tammy Wynette, who simply stood by her man when he cheated on her? Mrs. Clinton made that statement to squelch "rumors" of Mr. Clinton's womanizing and calm the electorate way back in 1992. Recall, too, "Hillary Care," the Democrat plan to nationalize health care. That one was a major factor in the Republicans winning a majority in Congress. And who could forget Hillary's "vast right-wing conspiracy."

Mrs. Bush won't be that kind of first lady. She would bring the type of honor reserved for ladies who remain above the political fray but who are nonetheless constant, loving companions for the president to lean on. She would bring the position of first lady back to where Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan left it. For that she is The Washington Times' noble of the week.

* Knave: Intellect Corp. , a Russian firm that took a patent out on glass bottles so it could extort money from the bottling industry. The rule of law is failing in Russia. Anyone who doubts this need look no further than this newspaper's knave of the week: Intellect Corp.

Intellect is a Russian company that took out a patent in Russia so general as to cover all glass bottles. In America such a patent would be impossible because glass bottles are commonly used, have been around for centuries and, well, it would be both ridiculous and crippling to the economy. In Russia, Intellect took the patent to several breweries and demanded royalties for all the bottles being shipped.

The breweries, of course, complained, but it turned out that Intellect had a history of taking out patents on common items and charging royalties. Several months ago, the same company was granted a patent on nails and railroad tracks, according to The Washington Post. The company wanted royalties then, too.

Let's be clear such shenanigans are, in effect, blackmail. Intellect's version of "capitalism" is for a business to use the government to extort money from other businesses. This view of business, capital markets and the government's role in the economy shouldn't be surprising in Russia. After all, that country was a bastion of communism for 70 years, and its people are therefore heirs to a philosophy that regarded "capitalism" as a term of derision.

For Russia, this means the rule of law is not only dead, but a culture exists that is hostile to it. The rule of law requires several things chief among which is that the law be applied to everyone equally and that the application of laws be fair and not capricious. In a country that allows a firm to patent glass bottles, the law has become capricious. And those who have made it so are knaves indeed.

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