- The Washington Times - Monday, September 11, 2000

Washington, P.C.

One of Capitol Hill's leading Democrats says "political correctness" is eroding America's foundation.

"Political correctness gets in the way of all too many things in this country of ours," says Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia. "I am not a subscriber of political correctness by any means, shape or form."

Mr. Byrd credits fellow Democratic senator and vice-presidential contender Joseph I. Lieberman for "bravely" addressing the erosion of faith-based values from public life and policy, only to be "misunderstood, and even maligned by some," in the guise of political correctness.

"The pendulum has swung too far," warns Mr. Byrd. "The Framers did not intend surely for a totally secular society to be forced on the populace by government policy."

He says it's a "new sort of intolerance about religion that I find most disturbing. It has become the thing we don't talk about, because it is not politically correct. So many of us are driven into a closet."

As a result, the former Senate majority leader says the United States is heading rapidly "toward an instituted governmental policy which is prejudiced against all religion."

As for Mr. Lieberman mixing a healthy dose of spiritual guidance with his politics this presidential campaign, Mr. Byrd says the White House hopeful isn't claiming "a person cannot be moral if that person is not religious even though I have to say that George Washington made it clear that without religion, morality cannot prevail."

Anybody's call

Although Labor Day, the unofficial kickoff of the general election campaign, has passed, more than one-third of all Americans haven't yet sided with a presidential candidate.

So says the latest Shorenstein Center national poll, finding 34 percent of all adults haven't picked a candidate and still aren't leaning toward either George W. Bush or Al Gore.

Former television newsman Marvin Kalb, executive director of the Shorenstein Center's Washington office, says the upcoming presidential debates will help many Americans "focus and decide on their choice."

Spare a dime?

Short on pocket change but don't know why?

Newly released figures on Capitol Hill show consumers this year are paying 47 percent more for gasoline, truckers are paying 46 percent more for diesel fuel, and homeowners are paying as much as 81 percent more for home-heating oil than they were just one year ago.

So much for being "better off" than we were eight years ago.

Run, Harold, run

Folks in the U.S. Capitol were all ears as Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat, began telling the amazing tale of his Uncle Harold.

About six or seven years ago, the senator began, Uncle Harold, who lives in Dickinson, N.D., entered his first running marathon in the 70-and-over category. What was strange about this was Uncle Harold had never run before.

He won that first race, so easily that he entered two more races in the same day's competition, winning those, too.

"He said, 'You know, I never knew I could run like that.' So he started running. He went to Minnesota to run, and then to South Dakota, and Arizona," said the senator.

"Pretty soon, Uncle Harold started specializing. Now he runs in the 400-meter and 800-meter events. So I have this uncle who just turned 80 running in races all over the country. He now has 45 gold medals. My aunt thinks he has had a stroke. She thinks it is as goofy as the devil that this 80-year-old man is running …

"I should mention one other thing about Uncle Harold. He also golfs, and he is the strangest golfer I have ever golfed with. He takes a bag and only takes four or five clubs. He hits the ball and … sprints on a dead run to the ball. It is a strange looking thing to see a guy … hit a ball and go on a dead run to find out where it rested and then hit it again."

Shirley's other sport

A longtime Washington political adviser has bought himself a professional lacrosse team.

Major League Lacrosse (MLL) says the Baltimore franchise of the professional outdoor lacrosse league has been awarded to political operative Craig Shirley, who becomes the team's owner/ operator.

Three other local men, fellow politico Frank Lavin, lacrosse equipment manufacturer Chris Hutchins and veterinarian Dr. Ray Schulmeyer, join Mr. Shirley in the franchise management group.

The Baltimore squad is one of eight original MLL teams to begin play in the summer of 2001.

Mr. Shirley is a former adviser to Presidents Reagan and Bush and owner of a successful multimillion-dollar public relations firm. A college lacrosse player and local high school and youth lacrosse coach, he is founder of the popular Web site www.AllLacrosseAmerica.com.

And how do the games of lacrosse and politics mix?

"From the political standpoint, lacrosse is bipartisan," says Mr. Shirley. "John McCain's son plays lacrosse and so does Al Gore's."

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