"If somebody had taken a picture, it would have been worth a million dollars. He looked kind of stunned."
So Carmen Mercer, vice president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, described the reaction of President Bush after he finally learned her identity during a fundraising dinner this week in Phoenix -- but only after he smiled and posed with her for a photograph, shook her hand twice and autographed her name tag.
Suffice it to say, Mr. Bush and Mrs. Mercer, who owns a restaurant in Tombstone, Ariz., have not seen eye-to-eye when it comes to public help in addressing illegal-immigration problems that plague her state.
Mrs. Mercer helps direct more than 1,000 Minuteman volunteers who have patrolled the border separating Arizona and Mexico. In recent months, they have assisted federal authorities in the apprehension of thousands of illegal aliens who otherwise might have gained entry into the country.
In a telephone interview yesterday with Inside the Beltway, Mrs. Mercer said "it was quite exciting to see the president this close-up" at Monday night's dinner benefiting Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican.
After a friend of Mrs. Mercer's told the president who she was, Mr. Bush said: "I knew I liked her the minute I saw her."
Vigilance, or else
"The price of liberty is eternal vigilance," states the motto of the Freedom Alliance, founded in 1990 by retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North.
At a Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City gala in Arlington this evening, the alliance will celebrate its 15th anniversary by honoring retired Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the U.S. military invasion to liberate Iraq. Gen. Franks, no doubt, would support the alliance's primary purpose: honor and encourage military service, defend U.S. sovereignty and promote a strong national defense.
It was two years ago that the former commander of the military's Central Command made waves when expressing his doubt that the U.S. Constitution could survive a weapons-of-mass-destruction attack on the United States.
In an in-depth interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine, the retired general predicted that if terrorists do strike, and mass casualties occur, the Constitution and current republican form of government would be discarded in favor of military rule.
Americans would "question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution," he said.
"[T]he Western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we've seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy."
Co-chairmen of this evening's gala are retired Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat, and Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican and likely presidential contender in 2008. Arriving from New York to be master of ceremonies is Fox News Channel morning host Brian Kilmeade.
For weeks on end, the outspoken counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington -- this group of minds questions whether global warming is man-made -- became aware that somebody was intrigued with the curbside garbage he placed out for collection.
"This past summer, I and a select group of others learned that [Greenpeace] coveted our trash, apparently to feed their various conspiracy theories involving anyone who questions their dogma," Christopher C. Horner said. "Indeed, my own refuse began regularly disappearing the night before pickup.
"To have a little fun, I not only placed a few intriguing items throughout my otherwise boring refuse, but also let my two large-breed dogs in on it -- liberally proffering a heat-cured week's worth of their best throughout each batch," he tells Inside the Beltway.
Recently, Mr. Horner learned that several Washington publications, namely The Washington Post, National Journal and Roll Call, "all passed" when offered "the results of the greens' dogged pursuit."
"All was not lost, as the German media sunk to our expectations," he said. "Der Spiegel, we learned last week, burned up the phone lines seeking comment on the greens' 'proof' of a purported, if hardly newsworthy, conspiracy that we were working with others to defeat Kyoto-related energy rationing."
"Greenpeace," Mr. Horner adds, should know that he recently sold his home -- "to a couple of Marines just back from Fallujah [in Iraq], who may have different tastes in dealing with such trespass."
John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.