- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2000

A non-story

The Heritage Foundation this week felt it necessary to send out a letter to journalists to correct "baseless stories insinuating some sort of impropriety about Virginia Thomas working at the Heritage Foundation while her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, ruled on the contested election in Florida."
James R. Weidman, director of media relations at Heritage, wrote: "Alas, the erroneous reports of this non-story have taken on a life of their own. In the absence of basic fact-checking, they continue to be rehashed and even more fancifully embroidered among much of the media."
He went on to describe "the facts of the matter."
"As Heritage's senior fellow in government studies, Ms. Thomas oversees our government-oversight project. Among her many activities in this area this year, she coordinated an eight-week training seminar for congressional staffers on how they can better prepare their members of Congress to conduct productive oversight hearings."
On Dec. 4, while the election was still in doubt, Mrs. Thomas learned that Mary Rose, a staffer in another department at Heritage, "had been designated as our resume 'point person,' the one who would ride herd over the resumes being sent to us by people interested in working for the next administration," Mr. Weidman said. "Ms. Thomas then e-mailed House and Senate staffers with whom she had been working to acquaint them with this fact. The e-mail went to both Republican and Democratic staffers."
Mr. Weidman added: "Ms. Thomas has not been receiving resumes. She has not been recruiting potential appointees for a Bush administration. She is not affiliated with the Bush transition team in any way, shape or form."

A rival power base

"Bill Clinton has not yet told aides where he wants Air Force Not-One to take him after the inauguration," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes.
"Being the glorious ham he is, Elvis won't want to miss the drama of the final goodbye. But then he may have to slip out the back door of the plane, hail a cab and double back to town," Miss Dowd writes.
"Bill Is Not Going Away. Ever.
"The man who was president and the woman who wants to be president are shopping for a lavish house in Washington's fanciest neighborhoods. Once more breaking rules, the Clintons will form a rival power base to the new president. (Not to mention a rival power base to poor Al Gore, who will have to slink across the river, back to Tipper's parents' modest home in Arlington, Va.)
"Just as the Bushes bided their time in Texas, plotting to reclaim the White House from the Clintons, now the Clintons will lurk only blocks away, plotting to reclaim the White House from the Bushes."

City of voters

In Philadelphia, "people apparently take their civic responsibilities seriously," Stephen Bronar and John R. Lott Jr. write in the New York Post.
"In that city, 1,025,259 are registered voters out of 1,065,455 residents aged 18 and over. As a number of adults are ineligible to vote (e.g., felons and non-citizens), the number of registered voters clearly exceeds the number of eligible people," writes Mr. Bronar, chairman of the University of Texas Economics Department, and Mr. Lott, a senior research scholar at the Yale University Law School.
"These numbers cannot be explained simply by voters being left on the rolls after they have moved or died. Preliminary numbers show some precincts had 100 percent of the registered voters voting, with 99 percent of their votes going for Gore. There is no obvious explanation for how this is possible."
The numbers also fail to add up in cities ranging from Detroit to St. Louis, the authors write, "and many races apparently turned on those results. Simply making sure that we 'count all the votes' the mantra repeated constantly over the last month is not the answer if those aren't real votes."

Always a Texan

Boxing up his collection of autographed baseballs and personal belongings at his office, President-elect George W. Bush got nostalgic yesterday about his six years as governor of Texas, the Associated Press reports.
"I'm going to miss this place. I have a lot of fond memories," Mr. Bush said as he left the office in Austin after a morning visit. "On the other hand, I'm looking forward to my new assignment. I'm enthusiastic and optimistic about what lies ahead."
Although he has moved forward with nominating his Cabinet and appointing White House staff, Mr. Bush has yet to resign from his state job.
Republican Lt. Gov. Rick Perry will be sworn in "within hours" of Mr. Bush's resignation, Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said.
Mr. Bush made the quick stop at his state office before making his Cabinet announcements and meeting with leaders of religious organizations. Texas House Speaker Pete Laney, a Democrat from Hale Center, came by to visit him.
"I'll always be a Texan," Mr. Bush told reporters. "I'm packing up my baseballs."
It was Mr. Bush's first visit to his Capitol office since last week.
Mr. Bush does not own a house in Austin and continues to live at the Texas Governor's Mansion.
Mr. Perry owns a home in Austin and has a "loose agreement" with Mr. Bush that he can stay in the mansion until Jan. 16, when he may be ready to move to Washington, Miss Walt said. Mr. Bush becomes president on Jan. 20.

Hatch in movie

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, long a critic of violence in Hollywood, has a cameo in the new Michael Douglas movie "Traffic," which includes nudity, sex, drug use and profane language.
"I'm glad I did it," the Utah Republican said.
The R-rated movie, which has received high praise from critics, has an anti-drug message.
"I don't see how they could have made it without violence and still accurately portray the drug culture and how degrading it is," Mr. Hatch told the Deseret News of Salt Lake City. "For adults who really need to know what kids are getting into, it's OK" to see the movie.
Mr. Hatch has a bit part in a scene where Mr. Douglas, playing a man nominated to become the nation's drug czar, is talking to senators at a Georgetown party. Mr. Hatch tells him what he thinks a drug czar ought to do.
The senator said the film's producer called the Judiciary Committee and asked if Mr. Hatch its chairman and other members would appear. Several agreed. Mr. Hatch said that as far as he knows, he wasn't paid for the cameo.
"They told my staff the movie would be about how drugs destroy families, and I thought that would be worthwhile," Mr. Hatch said.

What vindication?

Former President George Bush told Fox News Channel yesterday that his son's White House victory inspired no feeling of revenge for his own defeat at the hands of President Clinton in 1992.

"Please believe me, it is not about getting even," the former president said of the reversal.

He told Paula Zahn on her interview show "The Edge" that George W. Bush's triumph "isn't vindication, it isn't secretly saying to myself and George, 'By golly … he got us even in the Bush family.' "

The former president said in the interview, the second part of which will air tonight, that he hoped that his seat at the inauguration will not be too far forward because pride may cause him and his wife, Barbara, to tear up.

"We cry easy," he said. "Your kid hits a triple in Little League, this kid is the fast guy in the class, this kid gets all A's and comes home with a report card. Mine's the 43rd president."

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