- The Washington Times - Monday, January 31, 2000

Taking a toke, er, oath

Try to guess whether retired FBI special agent Gary Aldrich believes the claim by John C. Warnecke Jr., a former Tennessee newspaper reporter, that he and Al Gore smoked marijuana hundreds of times over a six-year period during the mid-1970s.
"This news comes as no surprise to anyone who read my best-selling book," says Mr. Aldrich, referring to "Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House."
"As I detailed in 1996, the Clinton-Gore administration demonstrated an easygoing attitude towards drug use that was shocking and dangerous," he says.
Mr. Gore, for the record, has admitted smoking dope through 1972, but called his illicit drug abuse "infrequent and rare." Obviously, Mr. Warnecke's version differs, by weight and measurement.
But even now, while the vice president has apparently cleaned up his act, the ex-FBI agent has his suspicions about other aging hippies in the Clinton-Gore camp.
"During my time in the Clinton White House, a striking number of cases emerged in which the use of marijuana, once started in high school or college, continued into one's 30s, 40s, and sometimes even later literally, decades of illegal drug use," notes Mr. Aldrich.
"Some admitted smoking pot on Inauguration Day."

Seeing red

We're told Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican, informed colleagues in a closed-door conference late last week that he won't allow the Chinese proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to go unnoticed when the Senate reconvenes.
Recent concern centers around the Beijing government's eagerness to join the World Trade Organization and the apparent use of U.S. capital markets to modernize its military.
Mr. Thompson earlier singled out several Chinese companies with U.S. dollar investments, including China Resources, which he labeled "an agent of espionage economic, military, and political for China."
The Tennessee state pension fund, in Mr. Thompson's and Vice President Al Gore's own back yard, is reported to be among several U.S. stockholders in the Chinese company.
It was Mr. Thompson, as chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee investigating campaign-finance abuses during the 1996 election, who charged the Chinese government with attempting to "subvert our election process" by making illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic Party.

Who needs television?

Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Maryland Republican, might as well cast himself in the NBC prime-time television series "The West Wing."
After all, he helped write the scripts.
We noted in a previous column that the television series, which premiered in September, features a U.S. president named Josiah Bartlet (played by actor Martin Sheen). The congressman happens to be a descendant of Josiah Bartlett (spelled with two Ts), a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
When he first saw the show, Mr. Bartlett couldn't get over the coincidence. Josiah, he pointed out, is an uncommon name with Biblical connotations.
Now the congressman is really shaking his head. You see, in last week's episode of "The West Wing," an aide to President Bartlet was fired after taking a White House helicopter to a golf outing.
Ring any bells? It does for Mr. Bartlett, because it was in his own congressional district in Western Maryland that President Clinton's former White House administrator, David Watkins, actually landed in a White House helicopter during a golf outing.
In the real episode, a U.S. Marine accompanying the chopper was even photographed saluting Mr. Watkins' golf bags.
Mr. Bartlett, the congressman, called the White House and raised hell about Uncle Sam's bird landing in his back yard. Within hours, Mr. Watkins, a lifelong friend of Mr. Clinton's from Hope, Ark., resigned his post.
Perhaps this week's episode of "The West Wing" will reveal what became of the fictitious presidential aide who got canned.
In the actual episode, believe it or not, Mr. Watkins landed a cushy job as senior executive vice president for Callaway Golf.
"Had it not happened as it did," Mr. Watkins said later of his taxpayer-funded flight, "I would probably not be here [at Callaway] today. And this is terrific."

Grave spinning

Ron Kurtz of Spring, Texas, observes: "In your column, you noted some of Jennifer Laszlo's former clients, and referred to 'the Ukraine.'
"Perhaps you are unaware of this, but placing 'the' before Ukraine has the capacity to offend those of Ukrainian descent (my maternal grandfather probably did a couple of 360s in his grave) because it treats this former, and once again, independent country as if it were a mere province of the Soviet Union.
"That's acceptable in cases where you are speaking about, say, 'the Midwest,' but in this case it's at the very least inaccurate. Similarly, there's no 'the France,' either."

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