- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2000

Political motivation

At the same time the Supreme Court prepared to hand down its pivotal ruling in effect ending the contested 2000 presidential race, motivational self-help guru Anthony Robbins appearing in Washington with a cast of characters for the second time this year lectured to a packed audience just a few blocks away.

And while the all-day session of inspirational speakers is billed as nonpolitical, "it definitely had a pro-Republican tone, there was some Gore-bashing," says Capitol Hill veteran Mary Hewitt, now in the private consulting business.

Even talk-show host Larry King, who is so cozy with the nation's lame-duck leadership that he refers to them by their first names, told the crowd that Bill Clinton is so close to leaving the White House he's "dating again."

The White House wasn't the only local target.

Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, former commander of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, told the audience the two biggest adult day care centers in the world were right here in Washington: Congress and the Pentagon.

Withdrawn ghost

Bush had plenty of sleep before,

Knowing now he will get no more,

With the clanking chain

And the cries of pain

From the ghost of a grieving Gore.

F.R. Duplantier

Shedding his horns

"Suffice it to say I thought there was probably going to be a short shelf life for Bill Clinton's former press secretaries, of which there's more than a few," one-time Clinton spokesman Mike McCurry tells Inside the Beltway.

Just yesterday we had poked fun at the former administration official for announcing his appointment as chief executive officer of Grassroots.com on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court virtually crowned George W. Bush our next president.

He spoke to us "in my new guise as Internet honcho, and I'm having a ball. I was coming up on almost 25 years of being a political press secretary in Washington, and White House press secretary is pretty much the last rung on that ladder," he says.

Now he finds himself negotiating with Democrat and Republican clients alike, "taking the action instead of reporting on the action," he adds.

"Some would say it's a little interesting that I'm going into the dot-com world when so many companies are splattering," he says, but adds Grassroots.com is healthy, catering to clients "on the right and left."

"I had some interesting meetings with people on the right of the political spectrum that I thought probably would think I had horns and a tail, but so far they're interested in hearing what the company is about."

Harassing Andrew

More now on that glowing $750,000 report issued by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo, titled "A Vision for Change: The Story of HUD's Transformation."

We had reported that Republican Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, vice chairman of the House subcommittee on housing and community opportunity, fired off a letter to Mr. Cuomo last week expressing concern "as we approach a change in administration [that] HUD is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on what may appear to some to be a flagrant political public relations document."

HUD responded there was nothing unusual about the glossy report, which contains 19 color pictures of Mr. Cuomo posing with the likes of Vice President Al Gore, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Furthermore, HUD charged the congressional committee with "harassment of the executive," in this case Mr. Cuomo.

"I am dismayed by this confrontational stance," Mr. Ney replies in a subsequent letter to Mr. Cuomo, which we obtained yesterday.

He explained the subcommittee is simply performing its oversight responsibilities based on several inquiries, "including one from a senior Democratic member of the House of Representatives, as to the utility of the report."

To digress

Just when we thought it was safe to go back outside, active-duty military pilots have reported a UFO sighting.

Flying aboard two U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle Mach 2 interceptors, the unidentified pilots were about to land after a practice mission on what was a bright sunny day with unlimited visibility, the Fund for UFO Research Inc. reports.

First detected as a bright yellow spot, the UFO rapidly approached one of the military aircraft, passing from the windshield to the left window. The pilot described the object as round, with a metallic-looking surface and bright yellow lights on top.

As a veteran fighter pilot, the officer reportedly conceded he should have retracted his landing gear, ignited his afterburners and chased "the son of a bitch," except he was "shocked to his bones."

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