- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 26, 2000

Subliminal message?

Perhaps it was another campaign pledge (albeit a rather hard one to deliver). Perhaps it was a pound-for-pound comparison between the Gore-Lieberman and Bush-Cheney tickets.

Puzzling as it was, Fox News Channel treated viewers yesterday to an unusual picture.

In Nashville to pitch his education plan, Al Gore stood in front of a wall emblazoned with several of his promises. But his neck and head blocked out the last two letters of the first word and the first two letters of the second word in the slogan pledging "smaller classes."

Was this a subliminal pitch to female voters, who lately, according to the polls, have been drifting to George W.? Whatever it was, unlike the flap over Republicans focusing in a campaign ad on the last fours letters of the word "bureaucrats," don't look for this one to make the front page of the New York Times.

Blood and beets

Now on the menu at a federal prison near you: tofu marinara, veggie burgers, braised tofu and vegetarian concoctions that taste (if you believe in fantastical things) like chicken and meatballs.

It's part of the Bureau of Prisons' new "No-Flesh Alternative" program, which makes vegetarian food available to all federal prisoners at every meal.

For "moral and health" reasons, the number of vegetarian prisoners is on the rise, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

"With 17 million vegetarians in the U.S. and 1 million new ones each year," says PETA's Bruce Friedrich, "it's no wonder prisons are seeing a demand for animal-free food."

He adds: "It should help us all sleep a little better to know we're taking away violent criminals' taste for blood."

It was a lawsuit by federal inmate Keith Maydak, a PETA member incarcerated at the Lewisburg Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, that paved the way for vegetarian chow lines.

Last May, a federal judge ordered the same prison to provide soy milk to prisoners as a means of "temporary relief."

No word yet from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Asparagus (PETA).

Next question?

President Clinton and the Democrats' intense fund-raising efforts, writes the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, have relied most heavily on one man: Terry McAuliffe.

In a recent interview, the center that encourages Americans to examine the role money plays in U.S. politics asked Mr. McAuliffe if Democrats are more complicit than Republicans in finding ways around current campaign-finance laws.

He replied: "I can't answer that question. I spend all my time raising money."

Energetic women

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson paid a visit to his department's huge Germantown, Md., complex this week, gushing to assembled employees that three women have been appointed to head the Energy offices of science, defense programs and environmental management.

"Isn't it great," our source quotes the secretary as saying, "that we have women controlling 80 percent of the budget?"

Given the predominantly male audience, Mr. Richardson's remark went over "like a lead balloon," our source says.

Hot Springs, honey?

Should Hillary Rodham Clinton have rented, rather than bought, that big house in New York?

That's what the National Republican Senatorial Committee is asking upon word that Rep. Rick Lazio, Mrs. Clinton's Republican opponent, is leading the first lady by as many as 18 points in upstate New York.

A recent Zogby poll found Mr. Lazio ahead by a margin of 50 percent to 32 percent everywhere but in New York City. Overall, he leads Mrs. Clinton by one lonely percentage point.

Some vacation

We'd written that the 106th Congress will go down in history as the Congress that wouldn't die, noting that lawmakers will be lucky to "get out of Dodge" by this weekend three weeks behind schedule.

That said, imagine sitting on the House Administration Committee and opening the letter this week from Chairman Bill Thomas, California Republican, and ranking member Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, advising members to report back to Washington beginning Nov. 14.

Organizational meetings, you understand, for the upcoming 107th Congress.

As for newly elected congressmen, a weeklong orientation seminar is set to begin Nov. 13, barely six days after the votes are cast.

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