- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2000

Dog Doggett

This whole flap about the accuracy of Vice President Al Gore's statement about what it costs for arthritis medicine for his mother-in-law and dog has lawmakers on Capitol Hill confused about whose side to take man or man's best friend.

"Now, we have pretty high regard, particularly in some parts of the state I know, over in East Texas, where my colleague is from for our dogs," says Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Texas Democrat.

"Some people have dogs that are pet dogs, and then there are other people that have bird dogs, and some have hunting dogs, and they think pretty highly of them, but it seems to me that we ought not to think so highly of them that if the dog got arthritis, the dog could get the prescription drugs cheaper than one of our retirees."

Uncle Harry

Finally, a fitting tribute to Harry S. Truman.

Nowhere in Washington is there a building, bridge, memorial or monument named after our nation's 33rd president, but that will change tomorrow when President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright name the State Department's headquarters after the man who led this nation through one of its most difficult periods.

"It's gratifying to see the esteem in which Uncle Harry is held now, and as you know that was not always the case, especially while he was in office." John Truman, a Missouri lawyer and grandnephew of the late president, tells Inside the Beltway in an interview.

"It's something he and I talked about, and fortunately he lived long enough to see and feel the change," says Mr. Truman, whose grandfather was the president's only brother.

Still, respect for the Truman name was a long time in coming, says the 60-year-old Mr. Truman, the guest of honor at tomorrow's dedication.

"I tried many cases against this one attorney and when my Aunt Bess [Truman] died, I suggested a continuance of a trial," he says, "and the opposing attorney reacted, 'So what?' And I said, 'Well, she is my aunt and I need to bury her.'

"But then there was a Swiss guard at the Vatican who was thrilled to meet me. So it depends on the circumstance."

Mr. Truman says Uncle Harry would be "honored" to have the State Department bear his name.

"I'm sure you know that a recent survey of historians ranked him as the fifth-greatest president of the United States," he says. "But regardless of that, his greatest achievement is in the foreign-policy arena, so I think this is an appropriate and fitting tribute to his memory."

Flunking 101

The media is coming under attack on the House floor for showing bias in the presidential campaign.

"In the presidential election, George Bush really faces three opponents: Al Gore, Bill Clinton … and a bias by many in the media," charges Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, who will spend the next several weeks publicly citing examples of bias.

He's particularly incensed with reporters "injecting their own opinion into articles," editors not covering certain subjects, and "one-sided stories that fail to achieve a fair balance of opinions."

The congressman points to a survey conducted by the American Society of Newspaper Editors showing more than three-quarters believe bias exists in news coverage.

All Clinton

"For all the glory of writing for Bill Clinton, everybody knew that he gave his own speeches rewriting, improvising, making them his own," concedes Michael Waldman, former chief White House speechwriter under President Clinton from 1995 to 1999.

Still, former White House aide George Stephanopoulos says no single individual contributed more to Mr. Clinton's public rhetoric than Mr. Waldman.

Early next month, Mr. Waldman will write about his relationship with Mr. Clinton in the Simon & Schuster book, "POTUS Speaks: Finding the Words that Defined the Clinton Presidency."

At his going-away party, Mr. Waldman says, Mr. Clinton first praised him, then presented him with a framed page of an actual speech written by the speechwriter that the president retrieved from the National Archives.

"Before delivering it, he had crossed out every line in thick black pen," says Mr. Waldman.

Suds standard

Consumers of alcohol take note: Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey Democrat, and Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican, have introduced legislation giving states three years to adopt a proposed national drunken-driving standard of .08 blood alcohol content.

For a 170-pound man, that's drinking about four beers in a single hour, or three beers for a 137-pound woman.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia already have .08 as the standard for drunken driving.

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