- The Washington Times - Friday, July 7, 2000

Bankrupt Bubba

The Clinton Legal Expense Trust, founded by former Sen. David Pryor, Arkansas Democrat, has just surpassed 100,000 individual contributions "retiring more than half" of the first family's $11 million in legal debt.

So Inside the Beltway learned Thursday from the Clinton trust's administrator, Chris Healy, who told us precise figures won't be released until next month.

Still, comparing the general figures we obtained Thursday to official numbers last released by the trust in February, when $5.9 million of the Clintons' debt was paid off, suggests contributions to the fund have slowed considerably as Mr. Clinton prepares to leave the White House.

Mr. Pryor conceded as much last April, telling this column: "Now that the legal troubles of the first family have faded from the news, our rate of contributions has declined."

The trust accepts contributions of up to $10,000 per year, although as Mr. Pryor will tell you, any amount would be helpful.

Oval Office anyone?

"I was in Tegucigalpa," said Housing and Urban Development secretary and vice presidential wannabe Andrew M. Cuomo, welcoming Honduran President Carlos Roberto Flores to a satellite-fed press conference to announce U.S. hurricane reconstruction assistance for the Central American nation.

"And we were in the president's office, which is really a magnificent, magnificent office magnificent desk styled on actually the desk that President Clinton now uses, which was originally John F. Kennedy's desk is President Clinton's desk. And President Flores' desk looks much like that."

Speaks volumes

"Dear …

"I'm Rick Lazio. It won't take me six pages to convince you to send me an urgently needed contribution for my United States Senate campaign in New York. It will take only six words:

"I'm running against Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"Sincerely, Rick Lazio."

Top dogs

With just over three weeks before the start of the 37th Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson Thursday announced the selection of the convention's top officers, who include:

Permanent chairman: House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois.

Deputy permanent co-chairmen: Reps. J.C. Watts Jr. of Oklahoma, Henry Bonilla of Texas and Jennifer Dunn of Washington.

Temporary chairman: Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi.

Parliamentarian: House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. David Dreier of California.

Dubya's friends

"Birthdays are special occasions in our family," reads the nice note from Laura Bush, wife of Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, who celebrated his 54th birthday Thursday. "A Bush birthday celebration always includes dear friends."

(We'll remember that, and look forward to our invitation to Dubya's White House birthday bash if he assumes higher office next year).

Mrs. Bush enclosed a birthday card to sign "and, if you wish, write George a personal message. I know he will be pleased to see a card from you. And if you can, I hope, you will consider commemorating George's 54th birthday with a special gift, one that we can all share."

Suggested amounts of birthday checks to insert in the card: $54, $100, $250 or $540.

Picking Bush

Democratic National Committee Chairman Joe Andrew threw a birthday party at DNC headquarters Thursday, and while the birthday boy wasn't even invited, at least the writing on his tasteless cake sliced by Mr. Andrew predicted his victory in the 2000 presidential election:

"Happy Birthday, Gov. Bush. Working out of your office will be a gas! Love, Big Oil, HMOs and Drug Companies.

Repent, McManus

All but lightning came crashing down after Inside the Beltway wrote of efforts this week by Father Sean McManus, president of the Irish National Caucus on Capitol Hill, to block the Vatican's plans to beatify Pope Pius IX.

It wasn't so much the priest taking sides with Jewish Americans against the controversial pope that made Catholics angry, it was the priest's language.

"Excuse me," writes one reader, Mrs. Jo Dermody of Midwest City, Okla., "but I am American Irish and to have a priest use the term 'no way in hell' is an absolute disgrace and he had better take himself to a good confessor."

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