- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2000

'Give me a year'

Good grief. It was just last week that this column suggested Energy Secretary Bill Richardson was spending too much time on Vice President Al Gore's campaign trail.

After all, we revealed, for over a year Mr. Richardson had ignored one congressional committee's written request that he address questions about cyber-security measures at the Energy Department's weapons laboratories, including the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory in New Mexico.

Officials there are now scrambling to locate two missing computer hard drives containing nuclear secrets. Nobody is ruling out espionage.

We'd written that House Science Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., had given Mr. Richardson until sundown last Wednesday to address 18 unanswered questions about espionage and national security at the weapons labs.

The questions had been sent to Mr. Richardson on June 3, 1999, two weeks after his May 20 testimony on "protecting the nation's secrets."

To refresh Mr. Richardson's memory, here's what he told committee members in his testimony at last year's hearing:

"I would just ask you to let me run my department. Give me a year to see if I've performed. Call me up again, and I will appear again to see whether I have initiated the reforms that I said I had."

Seeking Mr. Wright

That was a beaming former House Speaker Newt Gingrich turning the heads of tourists and Washingtonians alike as he strutted all by his lonesome up Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House yesterday, finally ducking into Kinkead's for lunch.

No, she didn't join him. While most of the so-called "news" surrounding Mr. Gingrich of late has dealt with his recent nasty divorce and subsequent engagement to a young Capitol Hill staffer, the former speaker was smiling for other reasons yesterday.

"We've raised more than a $100,000," Mr. Gingrich told Inside the Beltway, referring to his recently launched Committee for New American Leadership. Its mission, he says, is "to find the Henry Fords and Wright Brothers of the 21st century and make Washington pay attention to them."

And what else is Mr. Gingrich doing to keep himself busy?

He's founded his own company, the Gingrich Group, an Atlanta-based communications and management-consulting firm; he's a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; he's a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University; he lectures around the country through the Washington Speakers Bureau; he's joined Fox News as a political analyst; and among other projects listed on his personal Web home page newt.org he hosts two Internet-based grass-roots policy organizations on Social Security and tax relief.

Log onto the site and Mr. Gingrich will also answer the one remaining question: "What ever happened to the 'Contract With America?' "

Say what?

When Pat Buchanan announced that radio talk-show host Laura Schlessinger was on his short list of potential vice presidential candidates on the Reform Party ticket, former Missouri Lt. Gov. Harriett Woods who never met a female candidate she didn't like reacted, "Say what?"

Do you mean to say Mrs. Woods, two-time Democratic senatorial candidate, past president of the National Women's Political Caucus, the first woman elected to statewide office in her state, author of the new book "Stepping Up to Power: The Political Journey of American Women," that you would not support Mrs. Schlessinger's foray into politics?

"They still have to be qualified and they should still be able to bring something to the table," Mrs. Woods tells us. "If you know anything about Dr. Laura, you know that she has denounced single [mothers], gays, and just about anyone else that doesn't suit her and also exploits women for her ratings."

Is that all?

"She demeans her listeners, who apparently like that, but is she the role model we want our daughters to follow?

"And, of course, being one step away from the presidency, do we want Dr. Laura in our bedroom? I think we've all had enough of that."

Mrs. Woods instead recommends Mr. Buchanan choose a qualified woman, throwing out names like Elizabeth Dole, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine and New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman. "Better to go with a qualified man than an unqualified woman," she says.

"But," she acknowledges, "I guess Dr. Laura brings some attention to an otherwise media-starved campaign."

Explain thyself

By sending a "Personalized Hillary 2000 E-Card," says the Hillary 2000 Senate campaign, "you can send up to 10 personalized messages to your friends and family describing why you support Hillary."

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