- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Bubba’s bible

“At 957 pages, it will take you most of your life to read it.”

— Gordon Peterson of WUSA-TV, the “dean of anchors” to many Washingtonians, commenting on Bill Clinton’s just-released memoir, “My Life.”

Bubba and bugs

Rep. Michael C. Burgess, Texas Republican, doesn’t like the high prices he’s paying at the gasoline pump, and he’s blaming former President Bill Clinton.

Nearly 10 years ago, during the 104th Congress, H.R. 2491, which was passed, would have allowed oil exploration in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR. “Unfortunately, in 1995, that legislation was vetoed by then-President Clinton,” recalls Mr. Burgess, who, unlike the former president, actually paid a visit to ANWR.

“The vast coastal plain is unsuitable for habitation during the summer months because of its marshy consistency,” the congressman insists.

But what about all those gregarious deer we keep hearing about?

“Any caribou unlucky enough to calve in this region would likely die from exsanguination at the hands of the mosquitoes there,” Mr. Burgess says.

Never could see

If you’ve wondered all these years whether government officials were seeing straight, you weren’t seeing things.

Congress yesterday unanimously approved legislation introduced by Rep. Jo Ann Davis, Virginia Republican and chairman of the subcommittee on Civil Service and Agency Organization, requiring the Office of Personnel Management to present options under which vision insurance benefits finally could be made available to federal employees.

The benefits, which also would cover federal retirees, would include dental.

Now hear this

Tens of millions of practicing Catholics in America have the blessings of their bishops to make political waves.

Analyzing Friday’s statement issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, titled “Catholics in Political Life,” Catholic League President William Donohue says the bishops spoke with “convincing clarity” on the subject of politics and religion.

The bishops, he says, note correctly that the separation of church and state “does not require division between belief and public action, between moral principles and political choices, but protects the right of believers and religious groups to practice their faith and act on their values in public life.”

“Not only is the bishops’ ruling cogently written and without a single flaw,” Mr. Donohue says, it “should be widely disseminated to public officials and the law schools.”

Go figure

Department of Defense data reveal that the program to clean up unexploded ordnance on formerly used military sites in this country will take as many as 252 years.

Counting forward, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Oregon Democrat, says that unless more money and manpower are spent to clean up the sites, Congress will be appropriating money to deal with the problem until the year 2255.

One more for Gipper

In observing the 20th anniversary of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, praise is being heaped again on former President Ronald Reagan.

Republican Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr. was one of the first lawmakers to actively begin working on missing children issues after his Florida constituents, John and Reve Walsh, endured the 1981 abduction and murder of their son, Adam.

But it was under the leadership of Mr. Reagan that NCMEC was established as the national clearinghouse for information on missing children and the prevention of child victimization, Mr. Shaw notes.

Mr. Reagan officially opened NCMEC in a White House ceremony during a time when there was little coordination among the 50 states and 18,000 law-enforcement agencies. Today, more than 94 percent of children who are reported as missing are recovered safely.

Dandy Randy

The House has taken time out from the war against terrorism to recognize the oldest pitcher in major league baseball history to throw a perfect game.

In passing a resolution in his honor, one congressman after another congratulated 40-year-old Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitching a perfect game May 18, retiring all 27 Atlanta Braves he faced.

In fact, Atlanta fans gave the 6-foot-10-inch Johnson numerous standing ovations, chanting his name as he annihilated their team player-by-player. The radar gun on his very last pitch — his 117th of the night — clocked it at “a shocking 98 miles an hour,” observes Rep. John Shadegg, Arizona Republican.

Johnson grew up in Livermore, Calif., where his father, Bud, was a police officer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. As a boy, Randy would practice pitching against a garage door, throwing the ball so hard it would pop nails loose from the wood siding.

“After he was done, his father would proudly come up to him and hand him a hammer and tell him to go put the nails back into the wall,” says the congressman.

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

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