Wednesday, April 5, 2000

Rename EPA the Environmental Unprotected Agency

House Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas J. Bliley’s finding that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was warned repeatedly by credible outside experts that its diesel emissions testing protocol was being circumvented by manufacturers and that the agency did nothing about it should come as no surprise (“EPA blows smoke,” Editorial, April 2).

The agency has developed a disturbing pattern of ignoring warnings not only from outside experts, but also from within its own ranks.

EPA’s scientists tried for years to tell the agency that the gasoline additive methyl tertiary-butyl ether, or MTBE, would find its way into ground water. The agency wouldn’t listen until it was forced to do so by people outraged over contaminated drinking water. Computer security experts repeatedly warned EPA that its databases, some of them containing sensitive trade secrets, could be penetrated easily by hostile intruders. The agency wouldn’t listen until Mr. Bliley in February forced EPA temporarily to shut down its Web site after the General Accounting Office reported how easy it was to break into EPA’s main computer.

An institution that steadfastly refuses to heed the flashing red light is one that is headed for serious trouble. Unfortunately, EPA seems determined to drag a still unsuspecting public along with it.


Senior fellow

Lexington Institute


Property-hungry nonprofits, colleges

Jonetta Rose Barras hit the nail on the head with her questions about nonprofit organizations and universities continuing “to take valuable property off the tax rolls” (“No-control board,” Op-Ed, March 31).

Many communities in Washington know how true this is, especially Foggy Bottom, where George Washington University has taken over properties in the area, such as the Howard Johnson and part (for now) of Columbia Plaza. The university’s appetite for enrollment growth and academic sprawl is insatiable.

It seems that not only is the D.C. financial control board ignoring this threat, but no one in the mayor’s office or the D.C. Council is taking notice or action to stem this tide.

This has been a sought-after residential neighborhood. It is in danger of becoming a dormitory neighborhood no longer sought after.



Exit of Georgetown president eagerly anticipated by group

By allowing a staging of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” on campus (“Georgetown alumni hit firing of columnist,” Metropolitan, March 30), Father Leo O’Donovan has once again shown that his announced resignation as Georgetown University’s president is years late and more than a dollar short in fostering Georgetown’s Catholic identity.

During his tenure, Father O’Donovan supported the funding of a pro-abortion student group (G.U. Choice) but was forced to cease funding its activities after the Georgetown Ignatian Society invoked canon law; homosexual clubs have prospered, and “safe zones” have been set up for their accommodation; incoming students were required to attend classes in the use of condoms; fetal-tissue research was done in Georgetown’s hospital; consumption of alcohol on campus has grown to alarming proportions; pornographer Larry Flynt spoke on campus; and students struggled for 19 months before they finally were allowed to have crucifixes put in classrooms.

As he has been a frequent guest of the Clintons’ at the White House, it is not surprising that Father O’Donovan rejected the Ignatian Society’s request that the word “impeached” be added to the plaque that was hung on the wall of the Old North Building in honor of Mr. Clinton’s being the first U.S. president to have graduated from a Catholic university.

This accumulated legacy is part of Georgetown’s history. May Father O’Donovan’s replacement have a better concept of the “legacy” of Georgetown’s Catholic identity.



The Georgetown Ignatian Society


The truth surrounding Gore’s risky campaign-finance scheme

Voters have an important decision to make in November. Much is at stake. After seven exhaustive years of Clinton-Gore scandals and mendacity that would shock even Pinocchio, it is time to return the White House to its rightful place as our nation’s symbol of honesty and leadership.

However, leadership should not include the shady campaign-finance antics once championed but now artfully forgotten by Vice President Al Gore. Indeed, Mr. Gore’s ability to dance through the truth must make his mentor, President Clinton, beam with pride. By transforming Mr. Clinton’s Arkansas two-step into a Tennessee waltz, Mr. Gore, too, has demonstrated impressive skill at sidestepping questions. If nothing else, one must admit that the ballroom grace Mr. Gore displays during press conferences as he pirouettes around the truth gives even the most flat-footed adolescent hope of scoring a dance with the prom queen. Sadly, this fancy footwork is not enough. The facts speak for themselves.

When the vice president was asked if he had committed any ethical gaffes in his inexorable pursuit of dollars during the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign, Mr. Gore stated, “No, I understood what I did to be legal and appropriate. I felt like I was doing the right thing.” Mr. Gore added, “And I was very proud that I was able to also, in as part of that effort, to help raise campaign funds.” Raise campaign funds the vice president did, indeed do. In fact, only the methods and sources he chose do more to astonish than the amounts he raised.

We know that during the ‘96 race, Mr. Gore spent an infamous day at the Hsi Lai temple, where he raised $165,000 for the Democrats. What is even more unbelievable is that $55,000 of this total came from straw donors. Some of those donors were Buddhist nuns who had taken a vow of poverty. Although destitute, they were able to stuff Mr. Gore’s pockets with checks. Given such egregious tactics by Mr. Gore, is there any wonder why his friend and fund-raiser extraordinaire, Maria Hsia, was convicted recently on charges stemming from these outrageous practices?

The vice president was just getting started. While Mrs. Hsia was busy shaking down the nuns, Mr. Gore turned his White House office into a well-oiled telemarketing operation. He placed 52 documented campaign calls from his government office, which brought an additional $800,000 to the Clinton-Gore effort. The problem is that Mr. Gore is not allowed to exploit government resources for campaign purposes. The vice president should have known this. Yet a 1995 White House memo has Mr. Gore stating, “Count me in on the calls.” Luckily for Mr. Gore, he escaped Mrs. Hsia’s fate, thanks largely to his Tennessee roots. Down in Rocky Top country, Mr. Gore grew up drinking lots of good old-fashioned iced tea. So when the FBI questioned Mr. Gore about his earlier fund-raising statements, he informed the investigators that he didn’t remember the conversations because he “drank a lot of iced tea during [the] meetings, which could have necessitated a restroom break.” How convenient. I wonder how often his dog ate his homework.

What happened to Clinton-Gore’s bold pronouncement in 1992 that their administration would be the most ethical administration in history? We all know what happened to it. After the endless stream of “gates” Filegate, Travelgate and Diskgate to name just a few the country gave up on this empty promise. About the only gate that has survived Clinton-Gore is the Golden Gate.

Now the vice president is frenetically racing around the country trying to sell the nation on his so-called bold plan to reform campaign finance. This is comical. It also is why pollsters report an alarming level of cynicism among the electorate. The Gore team fooled us once. We shouldn’t allow it to fool us again.



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