- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2004

Tax relief

“I’d suggest a toilet as well.”

—President Bush’s advice to New Hampshire resident Steve Marshall, who had informed the president that he used part of his tax savings this year to install a new shower.

Walking weapon

Regarding congressional testimony by the CIA’s former top Iraqi weapons inspector, David Kay, about not uncovering any weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut has the most apropos sound bite.

“Saddam Hussein was a weapon of mass destruction,” the Democratic presidential candidate said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican, reacted to Mr. Kay’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq and capture Saddam “was essential to prevent further production of WMDs.”

“There was evidence during the Clinton administration that Iraq possessed WMDs. If Clinton had acted with the same courage as President Bush did, Saddam’s weapons would have been discovered then.”

Rags to riches

Pro-education Democrats will even be impressed by the “historic first” in the latest President’s Management Agenda (PMA) scorecard — the White House barometer that sets a very high standard for management performance in the federal government — to be released today by Clay Johnson, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The scorecard indicates the Department of Education is the first Cabinet-level department to go “green” on the rating for financial performance.

The report is “moving us straight from ‘red’ past ‘yellow’ right to ‘green,’” a senior Education Department official tells Inside the Beltway, calling it a “historic first” for his department in terms of the financial management of taxpayer-provided resources.

When President Bush took office, Education Secretary Rod Paige promised his department would achieve a clean audit opinion after Education failed to do so in all years but one before that.

In addition, we’re told, Education delivered its financial statements to OMB two months earlier than last year, becoming one of the few federal entities to meet the new accelerated deadline set by OMB a full year ahead of schedule.

The official says the department “walked the walk of accountability, which is a primary principle and a firm foundation for the No Child Left Behind Act” — Mr. Bush’s primary education initiative, which has become a hot-button issue in the 2004 presidential campaign.

Only the best

If man is to reach Mars, then it shouldn’t just be any man.

Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican and a member of the House Rules Committee, has taken to the floor the “NASA Workforce Flexibility Act,” which authorizes NASA to offer incentives to valued current and prospective employees to ensure that when America heads farther into space, the industry’s best and brightest are on board.

Specifically, the act would authorize “recruitment, relocation and retention bonuses” as an incentive to National Aeronautics and Space Administration employees, grant “term appointments” to the most valued scientific minds, and afford NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe the ability to provide “pay increases” to those in critical positions and with superior qualifications.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that this essential program will attract the best and brightest scientists, from any background, and I believe this legislation helps to achieve this end,” says the congressman.

Tough answers

You didn’t read it here first, but John Quincy Adams loved to skinny-dip in the Potomac.

We’ve just finished reading Cormac O’Brien’s new Quirk book, “Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents: What Your Teachers Never Told You About the Men of the White House,” including our current leader, President Bush.

Certainly, Mr. Bush has vocalized more than his share of one-sentence bloopers — among our favorites: “My education message will resignate among all parents,” and “Keep good relations with the Grecians.” But were you aware that Dubya is the first president to hold an MBA?

And if you thought Bill Clinton was a “crass act” while manning the Oval Office, Lyndon B. Johnson “was gruff and obscene virtually all of the time.”

“He belched, swore and … at his ranch in Texas, he was fond of terrifying guests by taking them on car rides down remote country roads at 90 mph while he drank scotch from a paper cup.”

As for any Clinton revelations, we’ve read — or written — most of them before, although we didn’t recall that Mr. Clinton fondled a woman in the bathroom during his own wedding reception.

American history, as the publisher notes, was never this much fun in school.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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