- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2000

Paybacks are hell

Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press" and master of ceremonies for the 15th annual congressional dinner of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, had everybody in the crowd laughing when he recalled one particular Sunday when Clinton adviser James Carville and his Republican wife, Mary Matalin, finished taping another "shouting match" and with tempers still flaring sped off in their car, Mr. Carville steering.

The policeman who caught up with Mr. Carville a short time later couldn't help but ask Mary if her husband always yells at her in public?

"Only when he's been drinking," she told the cop.

Up, down, buy, sell

Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers plays a crucial role on issues related to economic policy and the nation's fiscal health.

He has a proven track record. Prior to joining the Clinton administration, he served as vice president of Development Economics and chief economist of the World Bank. And in 1993 he was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, handed every two years to the outstanding American economist under the age of 40.

On Wednesday night, at the 15th annual congressional dinner sponsored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, Mr. Summers was presented with the chairman's award "for keeping America's economy strong," among other accomplishments.

Wouldn't you know Wednesday had been another tough day for the stock market, which plummeted for the umpteenth time this year. Upon accepting the award, Mr. Summers told the anxious crowd:

"I can't make any prediction on interest rates except they will continue to fluctuate."

Cessna, perhaps?

Speaking of Lawrence H. Summers, the Treasury secretary opened a letter this week from Sen. Michael D. Crapo, Idaho Republican, who questions why the United States is allowing the government of Uganda to spend $37.5 million on a presidential Gulfstream jet. while, at the same time, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have approved nearly $450 million in debt relief for the country.

"One must ask how a country can expend millions of dollars on a luxury aircraft, then turn around and ask for what translates to approximately $1.3 billion in debt relief over time," notes Mr. Crapo.

"As I recall, when the United States federal government helped bail out Chrysler Corporation, former Chairman Lee Iacocca was required to sell the company jets."

Slow motion

"I've always said that if God gave me only 5 years to live, I'd spend it as a member of Congress, because they've been the longest years of my life," Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., Oklahoma Republican, was overheard to remark this week.

Keep your parsnips

The departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services are co-hosting the National Nutrition Summit (President Clinton is invited to participate in the opening ceremonies) at the end of this month to develop federal programs to get us to "eat our vegetables."

The federal government, you may or may not know, is being pressured into: a) imposing mandatory menu warning labels; b) levying "Twinkie" taxes on high-calorie items; c) launching media campaigns to "de-normalize" popular restaurant food; and d) mandating food and beverage marketing restrictions.

"We need a strategy to deal with obesity. We need to intervene, change our behavior, break our eating habits," says Eileen Kennedy, USDA's undersecretary for research, education and economics.

The Guest Choice Network, on the other hand a coalition of more than 30,000 restaurant and tavern operators believes adults are capable of making their own food choices and is vigorously challenging government bureaucrats who think "they know what's best for us."

Another third party

We've just finished reading the page proofs for "Greenfield for President" by Arthur D. Robbins (Acropolis Books), and talk about poking fun at both the press and the presidency.

The book tells the story of Jeremiah Greenfield's rise to fame and national recognition as a reporter whose inside-Washington stories attract the attention of some of the most powerful men in the country.

He's approached by the Committee to Resurrect the American Presidency to run for president on a third-party ticket, reigniting the political dialogue until … well, you'll have to read the rest for yourself.

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