- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Honeymoon's over

Summing up the first four weeks of George W. Bush's presidency, House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas says: "His deft implementation of his compassionate-conservative agenda has pleased the public, delighted his fans, and left his critics tongue-tied."

The next seven weeks, however, are crucial if the bulk of Mr. Bush's agenda is to be enacted.

Uh oh

While the rest of the nation seems to be laying off workers, Congress has provided the Internal Revenue Service the authority to hire an additional 2,036 full-time employees this year.

Al's tank

Three Republican members of Congress are either driving, or else are on the waiting list, for Toyota's new environmentally friendly Prius.

But not former Vice President Al Gore.

Made in Japan, the $20,000 car gets 60 miles per gallon using a hybrid engine part internal combustion, part electric.

Maryland Republican Reps. Constance A. Morella and Roscoe G. Bartlett, and freshman Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, have all gone green with the ecologically correct cars.

"I love mine. It is spacious, has trunk room and gets great mileage," Mrs. Morella commented after picking up her new car earlier this month. "It's green, just like the technology it represents."

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California and Rep. Brian Baird of Washington are also on the list to get a Prius.

Even Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman is also said to be looking at one of new gas-saving, clean-burning vehicles for herself.

As for Mr. Gore, an outspoken environmentalist, we're told he wouldn't go near the new Japanese car even for a test drive during his recent presidential campaign.

"He was afraid of Detroit and the unions," says our automotive expert. "They hate this car."

Ballerina openings

Talk about being behind the times: Get a load of the books sitting on Sen. Jack Reed's nightstand.

Over the past several months, the Rhode Island Democrat has pulled more than 100 books off of school library shelves across the country, each volume to illustrate the sad state of the nation's public-school system.

Take "Rockets Into Space," copyright 1959, which informs students "there is a way to get to the moon," but the trip would have to be made in two stages: earth to space station, space station to the moon.

"This book was checked out of a Los Angeles school library 13 times since 1995," notes the senator.

Another book from a library shelf in his own state of Rhode Island, copyright 1968, is about "Understanding Some Characteristics of the Arabs."

Characteristic No. 1: "Leisure, tending to resignation."

"Needless to say," says Mr. Reed, the book "proceeds to describe characteristics of Arab people in derogatory terms."

Students in Philadelphia, meanwhile, are checking out "Colonial Life in America," copyright 1962, describing life on a Southern plantation (slaves included) as idyllic and village-like.

"Women at Work," copyright 1959 and discovered on a library shelf in Tarzana, Calif., discusses seven occupations open to young women: librarian, ballet dancer, airline stewardess, practical nurse, piano teacher, beautician and author.

As for politics and civics, several books contain profiles of all the U.S. presidents, ending with the current occupant of the White House: Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy or Lyndon B. Johnson.

Over the past 30 years, Mr. Reed complains, federal funding for school libraries has plummeted. He hopes to change that with legislation he introduced last week with Sen. Thad Cochran, Mississippi Republican, providing $500 million to school libraries for new books.

Mapping strategies

The Pentagon's National Imagery and Mapping Agency, or NIMA, blamed by the Clinton administration for producing an outdated map that led to the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade during the Kosovo war, is updating one of its teams.

"The NIMA Gay/Lesbian Team is seeking highly motivated individuals who want to become involved and make a difference at NIMA," says a memo we've obtained.

Multiple purposes of the team include: The identification of agency-wide issues of common concern to members of the gay and lesbian community to include diversity and gay/lesbian-resistant behaviors, policies, practices and procedures; and the development of strategies to eliminate diversity and gay/lesbian-resistant behaviors, policies, practices and procedures.

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