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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Friday, June 15, 2007

In need of advice

Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, one of the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates, appeared as a guest on the Laura Ingraham radio show yesterday, although he didn't know it at first.

"He came on, and he thought he was actually on the Dr. Laura show," Miss Ingraham's amused producer, A.J. Rice, told us yesterday.

Red Ritz

"It's definitely going to be the place for Washington power players to stay when they go to Moscow," says Vivian Deuschl, corporate vice president for public relations for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.

She's telling Inside the Beltway about the new 334-room Ritz-Carlton Moscow, complete with imperial Russian facade and views of Red Square, that will open July 1 on historic Tverskaya Street.

"We believe the service will be as exceptional as the surroundings," notes Simon Cooper, the hotel company's president and chief operating officer.

The new hotel is built on the site of an 18th century tavern, which decades later became known as the hotel "Paris," a popular gathering spot for Russian writers and poets. In 1970, The hotel "Intourist" took its place, before eventually being demolished and making way for the new $350 million Ritz.

This is the first property in Russia for the Chevy Chase-based luxury hotel chain. Room rates will start at $1,000 per night.

Get your goat

That's talented chef Johnny Monis of Komi restaurant on 17th Street NW standing front-and-center on the July cover of Food & Wine magazine.

After all, the young man, who was born in Arlington in 1979, has been named one of the 10 best new chefs in the country by the magazine.

Food & Wine says it extended Mr. Monis the honors because in his "tiny 400-square-foot kitchen, he makes exceptional Greek-inspired food that's both creative and based on centuries-old traditions."

Komi is actually the name of a beach on the Greek island of Chios, where his grandmother lives and where his parents were born. In fact, Mr. Monis' first kitchen job was at his parents' Mediterranean restaurant, La Casa, in Alexandria.

Mr. Monis' ingredient obsession: goat. The restaurant, he says, goes through eight to 10 goats a week, despite only having 12 tables.

Honor thy father

In accordance with a joint resolution of the Congress approved in 1972, President Bush hereby proclaims this Sunday, June 17, 2007, as Father's Day.

"I encourage all Americans to express admiration and appreciation to fathers for their many contributions to our nation's children," said Mr. Bush, calling on children to observe this day for their fathers with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities.

The president says all Americans should especially be grateful to the many dads who are serving their country as members of the armed forces, "and we lift them and their loved ones up in prayer."

Poor dad

"I've been poor since the day of my birth

And may die with a negative worth;

Though I live on the skids,

With my wonderful kids,

I'm the wealthiest man on the Earth!"

F.R. Duplantier, who sends Happy Father's Day wishes to all dads

Knee-down liberal

A widely circulated photograph of late shows President Bush clad in short pants and wearing a pair of rubbery black Croc shoes and socks — with his familiar grin, too.

Washington-based radio host Bill Press thought he would have some fun with the photo by holding a "Bush in Crocs" caption contest. Among the more clever submitted by his listeners:

"I am the Decider!"

"Give me Al Gore in a plaid shirt."

"I won the presidency, and all I got was this stupid outfit."

"An Army Of One."

"Left alone, without his handlers."

"One big crock with two little Crocs."

"OK, so I'm a liberal from the knees down."

Ice cap toll

Our favorite letter of the week comes from Marc Perkel of San Bruno, Calif., who knows one way to reduce carbon emissions: eliminate toll roads and toll bridges.

"Toll collection requires people sit in traffic with their engines running generating useless smog while waiting in line to pay a tax. If these tolls were eliminated, then millions of tons of greenhouse gases would not be dumped into the air we breathe, and it would reduce our need to buy Arab oil and avoid gas shortages that drive up prices," he says.

"A toll is a tax with a high cost to the environment. If we must pay a tax, then we should raise the tax on gasoline to make up the difference," he adds. "So let's close down those toll booths before the ice caps melt and it's too late."

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