- The Washington Times - Friday, December 8, 2000

Feather weight

Former Tennessee governor and two-time presidential candidate Lamar Alexander had some telling advice for Al Gore in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

Mr. Alexander hopes the vice president will "get out before he's called out." Losing, he said, has its advantages.

"Private life can be positively liberating. Do what you want to do instead of what you are expected to do. Watch ESPN instead of CNN. Go to concerts instead of caucuses, to games instead of events. Learn to drive again and to open doors for yourself."

Mr. Alexander continued, "For your concession speech, I would recommend something simple, gracious and unifying. People always remember the last thing you do. Deliver it before the end, not after. And if, in the style of Lincoln, Churchill and Nixon, this is not the last political thing you want to do, you'd be wise to respect that old Australian proverb: 'Rooster today, feather duster tomorrow.' "

Hire education

When he created his transition team last week, George W. Bush told America he would fill his administration with those "willing to work hard to do what is best for America, who examine the facts and do what is right, whether or not it is popular."

The official transition Web site elaborates, under a section called "Factors to Consider."

"To serve our country as a member of the Bush-Cheney administration will be both an honor and a privilege. However, government service is not for everyone. Anyone thinking about applying should be aware that:

"c The hours are long and the pace intense.

"c There is much public/press scrutiny, as you would expect in an open, democratic form of government such as ours."

News flash

A Los Angeles radio station has a future job for Al Gore.

Talk radio 790 KABC has offered Mr. Gore a job of daytime talk-show personality, opposite current host Al Rantel to be called "The Al and Al Show." The station plans to pay the vice president $200,000 about the present salary of the U.S. president.

Currently, he makes $181,400.

"I know that the vice president believes that it is important to make a difference with as many people as possible. Hosting a talk-radio show in Los Angeles offers him a great outlet to do so," producer Erik Braverman said.

Fan fare

New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani will not be a popular man tonight among those who love Strawberry Fields.

He has refused to suspend Central Park's 1 a.m. curfew to accommodate hundreds of John Lennon fans expected at a memorial vigil tonight on the 20th anniversary of the former Beatle's slaying.

It's too dangerous, he said.

Lennon fans are calling the mayor "Mean Mr. Mustard" but want harmony nonetheless.

"We want to invite the mayor to come down and sing with us," said a spokesman with the Lennon Memorial Committee. "We hope we wakes up from his 1950s coma and realizes Dec. 8 is a significant date."

Gracious goodbye

Outgoing Sen. John Ashcroft, Missouri Republican, said goodbye to the Senate yesterday.

After Missouri's Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash three weeks before the Nov. 7 election, his name stayed on the ballot. Missourians narrowly chose him over Mr. Ashcroft.

"The people of Missouri decided that they would honor the deceased governor by voting in his behalf and in his stead in the election, rather than voting for me," he said. "And I respect them for that. I honor them for that."

Mr. Ashcroft thanked the governor's widow, Jean Carnahan, who was officially named Monday to replace her husband in the Senate, effective Jan. 3.

"I reminded her yesterday that 30 days from now, she will be my senator, and I want her to do well," Mr. Ashcroft said.

Dr. Clinton

Several media reports are billing it, "She's ba-aa-ck!"

In her very first press interview since arriving on Capitol Hill, Sen.-elect/first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton revived an old health interest.

As first lady, she led an unsuccessful effort in 1993 and 1994 to overhaul the nation's health-care system, which critics equated with socialized medicine. When her proposals failed, she beat a hasty retreat.

Now she has her own venue.

"Health care still is one of my priority concerns. I think it has to be," Mrs. Clinton told reporters Wednesday. But she is treading lightly these days.

"I think you have to go at it in a step-by-step way," Mrs. Clinton said. "It's doubtful that in an evenly divided Senate, for example, that you could come up with any kind of plan that would improve access, affordability and quality without there being a lot of bipartisan support. And I'd like to build on what's worked."

Driving force

The infamous yellow Ryder truck that transported Palm Beach County's disputed presidential ballots to Tallahassee, Fla., last month is for sale.

Budget Group Inc., which operates Ryder truck rentals, is auctioning the 1999 Ford F350 on the Internet with proceeds to be donated to the American Red Cross.

The company said it is auctioning the truck after receiving numerous offers to buy it. It's got just 31,297 miles on it and, under normal circumstances, would be worth $17,051, spokeswoman Allison Striegel said.

Compared to O.J. Simpson's white Bronco and his cruise across Los Angeles in 1994, TV networks broadcast updates showing the Ryder truck as it made the 430-mile journey. It was a publicity boon for the company.

Late yesterday afternoon, 131 people had already bid on the truck and the price had topped $30,000. The auction will continue until next Thursday.

Big harvest

Rep. Joe Skeen, New Mexico Republican, has requested an investigation by the General Accounting Office into accusations that more than 100 Agriculture Department employees used taxpayer funds to influence this fall's presidential election.

The program was called Harvest 2000.

Mr. Skeen, who is chairman of the House Agriculture appropriations subcommittee, said the assertions made in National Journal's "Congress Daily AM" yesterday "appear to continue a pattern of using taxpayer dollars for political purposes that USDA employees have reported."

Taking aim

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by officials in Camden County, N.J., against the gun industry, concluding the county had no standing to sue, the National Shooting Sports Foundation said yesterday.

The group said U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle has ruled that Camden County could not show that the manufacturers' distribution of legal guns caused a public nuisance, or caused the county to incur costs to prevent, prosecute and punish gun crimes.

In his ruling, the judge dismissed the county's claims of negligent distribution and marketing and public nuisance. Earlier this year, he had thrown out other claims.

Chad ad nauseum

Had enough of those insidious little chads the bits of ballot creating such fuss in the media?

Entrepreneurs are not quite done with the theme.

The on-line company Enjewel is now offering sterling silver "Election 2000" jewelry for the real junkies out there. Designs include a Butterfly Ballot pendant for $125, Pregnant Chad Cuff Links for $100 and Dimpled Chad Earrings for $100.

In addition, the on-line purveyor Gold Violin is offering a 4-inch "hanging-chad magnifier" for the "grandparent who has everything."

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