- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2000

Choking with Chelsea

A youthful group of twenty-somethings, the majority Libertarians, gathered at Dupont Circle North's Xando's Thursday evening for a smoke-in to commemorate the first daughter's recent choice to use tobacco.

Various interns and staffers, hailing from Capitol Hill and beyond, organized the impromptu event after learning that Chelsea Clinton had been spotted smoking up a storm at the popular coffee shop over the Fourth of July weekend.

The event was open to cigarette, cigar and pipe smokers. Nonsmokers also were welcome to join the group in the restaurant's smoking section. Tobacco trivia questions were asked and competitions such as best smoke rings were held. Free matches also were available to commemorate the event.

"We are not necessarily condoning smoking. We want to emphasize that an adult's decisions regarding health and morality should be left to that person only and not to the government or any other outside authority," said one smoke-in organizer.

Under Chelsea's father's administration, the tobacco industry has faced some of the toughest anti-cigarette lawsuits and legislation in history. But it's Chelsea's mom, Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is the family's most ardent foe of tobacco use.

Go figure

Republican leaders in Congress are trying to make sense of rumors that Patricia Godley, the Clinton administration's assistant energy secretary, is about to be named chief Washington lobbyist for Enron, the Houston-based energy company and top patron of GOP presidential front-runner George W. Bush.

During his career, Mr. Bush has secured more than $500,000 from Enron's employees.

Pay and pray

Democrats on Capitol Hill continue to wrestle with how to reprimand Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., the Ohio Democrat who vows to vote to elect House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, in the next Congress.

There's talk of expelling Mr. Traficant from the caucus and stripping him of his seniority, all as rumors continue to fly that the outspoken lawmaker eventually will jump the Democratic ship.

In the meantime, Mr. Traficant goes on doing what he does best delivering, all sides agree, the most popular, if not sensible, one-minute speeches on the House floor.

This week, for instance, the congressman explains, only as he can do, the latest billion-dollar U.S. aid package to Russia.

"Uncle Sam gives billions to Russia," he begins, "Russia uses our money to build missiles and warships, Russia then sells those missiles and warships to China, China then aims those Russian-made missiles, built with American cash, back at Uncle Sam.

"Now if that is not enough to ignite our plutonium."

Not the queen

Reporter's question Thursday: "Has that recommendation formally reached your desk?"

Attorney General Janet Reno: "I don't know what you mean by 'formally,' but I have it."

Queen for a day

Attorney General Janet Reno departed Thursday evening for Great Britain, to lecture at Runnymede, where in 1215 the barons of England forced King John to grant Magna Carta and limit the powers of the king.

Upon arrival, Miss Reno says, she will "reconfirm the debt we owe to those who caused King John to sign the Magna Carta and … how much our Constitution owes the Magna Carta.

"It's wonderful to thumb through the pages and see some of the very specific, just logistical things that the barons wanted, and some of the grand ideas that they supported," she says. "The law gets very complicated sometimes, and lawyers certainly know how to confuse the English language by their legalese."

Fueling the IRS

"It probably didn't help," says conservative Heritage Foundation President Edwin J. Feulner, "that when our audit began, the head of the IRS was Margaret Milner Richardson, a friend of the Clintons and a onetime fund-raiser for the Democratic Party.

"And it probably didn't help," he adds, "that when the original auditor came to the Heritage Foundation two years ago, he stepped off the elevator and came face to face with an array of publications. Prominently displayed was our paperback book, 'The Flat Tax: Curbing the IRS.' "

Conventional fare

Nominations are not in contention

And there's nary an issue to mention:

Crowning Bush and Al Gore

Will be such a big bore,

So why even have a convention?

F.R. Duplantier, director of America's Future

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