- The Washington Times - Monday, July 17, 2000

Didn't inhale

We reported in our most recent column that a group of 20-something Libertarians gathered at a popular Washington coffee shop for a smoke-in to commemorate the first daughter's reported use of tobacco.

Uncorroborated stories said that Chelsea Clinton had been spotted smoking up a storm at the coffee shop over the Fourth of July weekend, and the Libertarians through various competitions, like blowing the best smoke rings wanted to emphasize that adults are old enough to make their own decisions regarding smoking and health, without government intrusion.

No sooner did our item appear and Hillary Rodham Clinton's spokeswoman, Lissa Muscatine, called to say that Chelsea not only didn't inhale, she didn't puff.

"She wants no part of smoking, she doesn't smoke, she hates smoking," Ms. Muscatine says, saying reports to the contrary are unfair and "totally wrong."

"This is something she feels very strongly about," the spokeswoman says of the first daughter. "She is vehemently against smoking."

And if that isn't proof enough, Ms. Muscatine points out that Chelsea "is a vegetarian" for heaven's sakes.

Lame duchess

As for Hillary Rodham Clinton's amazing stamina of late what with juggling first lady duties with a full-time Senate campaign spokeswoman Lissa Muscatine concedes that Mrs. Clinton's White House obligations have become fewer and far between.

"The bulk of her time is spent on the campaign," says Ms. Muscatine, adding that Mrs. Clinton is careful to block off a certain number of days when back in Washington "to catch up on her sleep."

President Clinton announced last week that the first family won't be taking its customary summer vacation this year to allow for Mrs. Clinton's continued campaigning.

Scaly tomatoes

During the past year, 100 million acres of genetically engineered crops were planted in the United States, a crop that concerns one congressman.

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, says many Americans aren't aware they're consuming genetically altered crops, and points to possible allergenicity, toxicity, transfer of antibiotic resistance, and unintended side effects that come with the new technology.

He wants labeling regimes so Americans know if the food they are eating is genetically modified.

"There is one product which has been talked about, a flavor saver tomato which takes a gene from a flounder and shoots it into a tomato to make the tomato more weather resistant," notes the congressman.

"Now, in God's green acres, tomatoes and flounders do not mate," he says. "What is happening is that genetic engineering is creating new possibilities which defy the laws of nature and God."

Gone bananas

A Senate briefing on Senate Resolution 2725 The Chimpanzee Health Improvement Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act has been called for today by Sens. Bob Smith, New Hampshire Republican, and Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat.

Mr. Smith calls the CHIMP act "landmark legislation which will provide permanent retirement in sanctuaries for chimpanzees no longer deemed useful in federal research laboratories."

Calling Hallmark

Offering his support for the many stepparents in this country who contribute to the lives of the children they help raise, Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican, is proposing "Stepmother's Day."

He got the idea from a young constituent, Lizzie Capuzzi, who recognized the importance of her relationship with her stepmother, Joyce Capuzzi. The girl decided that the Sunday following Mother's Day would now be Stepmother's Day.

"It is wonderful that Lizzie Capuzzi holds so much love for her stepmother, and it is my hope that their relationship can be an example for other stepfamilies," says the senator.

Not doing a lot

Vice President Al Gore and his fellow Democrats on both sides of Capitol Hill have spent the past week accusing the Republican-led body of being a "do-nothing Congress."

A label that doesn't bother Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., Oklahoma Republican.

"Do you know what it means when they accuse you of doing nothing?" asks Mr. Watts. "It means we are not raising taxes. That means we are not spending enough of the surplus. We have not raided the Social Security surplus. We are not making government regulations burdensome enough."

He went on to cite other things the 106th Congress isn't doing, but we don't have the space to print it all.

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