- The Washington Times - Friday, June 23, 2000

I'm ready, Al

Why wait around for Vice President Al Gore to announce who his top picks are for vice presidential running mate?

When 42-year-old Housing Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo was asked yesterday whether he, if asked, would accept the No. 2 spot on the Democratic ticket, he came right out and said: "Yes, I would accept."

Asked for reaction yesterday, Mr. Gore said: "I don't have a short list yet."

Long commencement

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's scathing commencement address at the University of Notre Dame last month is still reverberating around the country.

"It is particularly shameful that the United States, the most prosperous and successful country in the history of the world, should be one of the least generous in terms of the share of its gross national product it devotes to helping the world's poor," Mr. Annan scolded. "I am sure many of you share my feeling that this is unworthy of the traditions of this great country."

Inside the Beltway has now obtained a letter, dated this week, requesting Mr. Annan release the following information: 1) a copy of his own financial-disclosure statement on file with the United Nations as required by regulation 1.2(n); and 2) a five-year written history of his personal contributions to charity, whether in his home country of Ghana or to international institutions.

"Your comments at Notre Dame are an ungrateful slap in the face to the citizens of this sovereign nation, who contribute more to the United Nations than 96 percent of all other U.N. member nations combined," writes Thomas P. Kilgannon, executive director of the 100,000-member Fairfax-based Freedom Alliance.

Mr. Kilgannon says two previous requests for Mr. Annan's philanthropy history, submitted last month, remain unanswered.

Snorting Americans

Five days ago, Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois spent his Sunday afternoon flying over southern Colombia in a Black Hawk helicopter.

"We spent an hour going over the treetops of a jungle and looking down," the Democrat reveals. "A general from the Colombian army was pointing out to me the fields of coca plants, the plant that ultimately produces cocaine. After a few minutes, I told him he could stop because we could literally see them in every direction.

"I am talking about 600 square miles of coca plants," says the senator. "Where will it be sold? Right here, most of it, in the United States."

About 80 percent of the cocaine and heroin consumed in the United States comes from Colombia.

No stacked deck

Our item this week on the electronic voting booth at the Newseum inviting visitors to choose between three presidential candidates: Democrat Al Gore, Republican George W. Bush, or socialist David McReynolds generated this response from the Newseum's director of marketing and communications, J. Michael Fetters:

"[W]e selected these three candidates because at the time (not long after Super Tuesday) they seemed assured of their party's nomination. It has always been our plan to replace the ballot with an expanded ballot once the political conventions are concluded in August. At that point, we plan to list all of the major party nominees and reset the counters to zero."

Truman mold

Word that Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., Ohio Democrat, might cross over to the Republican side of the aisle, drew considerable reaction from all quarters yesterday, none as emotional as O.H., a fellow Democrat:

"Finally, a Democrat I can be proud of. I said long ago where is a Harry Truman when we need him? Now we have a man that is not afraid to say what is certainly not politically correct. I am a registered Democrat that hasn't voted for a Democrat since [President] Clinton. I will not vote for one, as they have stood up for all of Clinton's shenanigans.

"Today, I have hope we found a man that isn't afraid to say what he believes in. I'm 76 years old. God bless him, he has renewed my belief in man."

We all scream

Approaching the leaders of Congress to lend their names as honorary chairmen for a group or event is no simple task. Each request is subject to an intense background check, to make sure the lawmaker lending his or her name supports the requesting group's platform and convictions.

On the other hand, the International Ice Cream Association, the National Cheese Institute, and the Milk Industry Foundation, had no problem yesterday afternoon enlisting House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle as "Honorary Chairmen and Ice Cream Lovers Extraordinaire" for the "Ice Cream for America" party on the U.S. Capitol lawn.

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