- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2000

Prayer for the nation

The great English novelist Charles Dickens began his epic novel "A Tale of Two Cities" with the words, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Now, citing the passage nearly a century and a half later, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, says those same words could well describe the plight of America.

"The United States has never been more affluent, in terms of material wealth and creature comforts, or more impoverished in terms of spiritual well-being," Mr. Byrd says. "It is the best of times materially. It is the worst of times spiritually."

The senior senator goes so far as to call America "a hollow nation."

Now, the former Senate majority leader is calling on both the Democratic and Republican parties to adopt planks in their political platforms advocating an amendment to the Constitution that clarifies the intent of the Framers with regard to prayer in schools.

As for now, Mr. Byrd is imploring presidential candidates Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush to advocate a prayer amendment as part of their campaigns.

"We have seen the Supreme Court rule, again and again, against allowing voluntary prayer in public school," says Mr. Byrd, who calls "this ingrained predisposition against expressions of religious or spiritual beliefs wrongheaded, destructive and completely contrary to the intent of the Founders of this great nation."

In Mr. Byrd's opinion, the Supreme Court "is drifting farther and farther to the left of center in its drift towards materialism and radical secularism," saying religion has "all but vanished from our national life."

"Worse than that, religion is discouraged, frowned upon, and suppressed spurred by what I believe is a misguided attempt to ensure a completely secular society, and a gross misreading of Constitutional intent."

Bush, Gore, Selleck

In the upcoming political movie "Running Mates," Tom Selleck plays a governor of Michigan who is tapped as the Democratic presidential nominee.

And just like today's presidential campaigns, the TNT comedy-drama (set to air Sunday, Aug. 13) centers around the politics of choosing a vice-presidential candidate, taking into account big business interests, the media and the Hollywood establishment.

Wouldn't you know, the film's executive producer is none other than Gerald Rafshoon, former top aide and communications director to President Carter. Mr. Rafshoon is now an established Hollywood producer.

The Washington screening of "Running Mates" will be Aug. 10, at Mazza Gallerie.

Mayors Bill and Al

In these final days prior to the Democratic National Convention, the Democratic National Committee is touting the accomplishments on a state-by-state basis of President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore during their nearly two terms in the White House.

In the District of Columbia alone, a city of less than 550,000, Clinton-Gore accomplishments fill nine pages taking credit for the city's drop in unemployment to providing $635 million (federal funds, actually) for transit funding.

Here's a sample of what Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore have accomplished for D.C. residents:

• "In the District of Columbia, the poverty rate has fallen from 26.4 percent in 1993 to 22 percent in 1998 down 4.4 percent under President Clinton.

• "Thanks to President Clinton the balanced budget delivers a child tax credit to 43,000 families in the District of Columbia.

• "Under the Clinton-Gore administration … serious crime in the District of Columbia has fallen 23 percent."

And finally, on the heels of Mr. Gore's presidential opponent, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, unfairly taking it on the chin for not seeing that every child in Houston was immunized, this Clinton-Gore accomplishment:

• "As a result of the President's 1993 Childhood Immunization Initiative … in the District of Columbia in 1998, 92 percent of 2-year-olds received the vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis."

Pay to play

The Porker of the Month Award in July has just been handed to Sen. Robert F. Bennett, Utah Republican.

Mr. Bennett's state is hosting the 2002 Winter Games, and Citizens Against Government Waste, a government watchdog group, says the senator has wrangled $3.3 million in federal funds to test Olympic athletes for drugs.

"That means taxpayers are footing the bill for 75 percent of the $4.3 million Olympic drug-testing budget," says the group in bestowing the award.

Foggy horizon

It's truly depressing to see

What's become of the GOP:

Still pro-life, more or less,

And for gun rights, we guess,

But no telling how long that will be.

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

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