- The Washington Times - Friday, February 9, 2001

Saving Connecticut

It's worth repeating the reaction of Sen. Craig Thomas, Wyoming Republican, after the "Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act" was introduced in the House of Representatives this week.

"Thanks, but no thanks," said Mr. Thomas. "This is the same misguided legislation that has gone nowhere for several years and faces the same certain fate this Congress. It is a particularly naive notion perpetuated by Easterners that simply turning over a majority of the West to the federal government is good for the communities that live and work there or even good for the environment.

"I'm nearly spurred to introduce my own bill: the 'Most of Connecticut and All New York Ecosystem Protection Act.' It would lock up all the private and public lands in both states and put everyone out of work. But of course, I won't because like this bill the idea is ludicrous."

CVN 76

Newport News Shipbuilding will christen the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) on March 4, with launching of the ship six days later.

Nancy Reagan will serve as the ship's sponsor and crack the traditional bottle of champagne against the hull, honoring an ancient tradition and officially naming the carrier.

The floating Gipper is 1,096 feet long, towers 20 stories above the waterline, displaces approximately 95,000 tons, and will carry 6,000 personnel and 80 aircraft. The ship will be in service for missions around the world for approximately 50 years.

And while former President Reagan won't be on hand for the christening, he was presented with a model of the carrier in 1996 by Newport News Shipbuilding Chairman and CEO Bill Fricks.

Let freedom ring

A battle is brewing between moral decency and good health, with radio and television shock host Howard Stern caught in the middle.

Inside the Beltway has obtained an exchange of letters between the American Decency Association (ADA) and the Washington-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), the former requesting that the latter stop advertising on "The Howard Stern Show."

"The filth of the Howard Stern TV show is a stain of shame upon America's airwaves," writes ADA President Bill Johnson. "In addition, as you sponsor the Stern show, you also significantly demean your corporate name."

Should the PCRM not withdraw its advertising dollars, the ADA president threatened to publish the PCRM's name along with other Stern sponsors in its newsletter and extensive e-mail network.

Dr. Neal Barnard, the PCRM's president, wasn't amused.

"Clearly, you have a personal problem with Howard Stern and your intentions are to undermine his success," he writes.

However, he adds, public service announcements that Mr. Stern has aired for the PCRM in recent years introduced a large audience to the PCRM's clinical agenda to reduce cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity.

Furthermore, Dr. Barnard points out: "With a 20-year-run on the morning airwaves, Mr. Stern is obviously doing something right, and we're delighted to have been a part of his program."

First trio

One might be a coroner, one a treasurer and the other a mayor, but the fact that all three Democrats recently jumped ship earns them the distinction of becoming the first elected officials in the nation to bail since President Bush was sworn in Jan. 20.

"Welcome aboard," said Republican National Committee Chairman and Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III. "I look forward to many more elected Democrats joining the party of optimism and opportunity."

Ruth Fontenot, mayor of New Iberia, La.; Lafayette Parish, La., Coroner Dr. Charles Boustany; and Bell County Treasurer Charles Jones of Texas all switched in recent days from the Democratic to the Republican Party.

During the eight years that President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were in the White House, a whopping 479 elected Democrats switched to the Republican Party.

Implicating Bush

Former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle make up a high-profile panel that will debate "the implications of the closest election in history" at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington on Feb. 26.

Before anybody gets too excited about any "implications," remember that President George W. Bush received more popular votes in the 2000 election than President Clinton won in either of his victories.

In 1992, Mr. Clinton got 43.7 million votes; in 1996, he got 45.6 million votes. Last year, Mr. Bush got 50,456,169 votes 4,827,502 more votes than Mr. Clinton ever received.

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