- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2000

McCain fault

And then there were two Al Gore and George W. Bush.
Republican John McCain didn't concede to the extent that Democrat Bill Bradley did, instead leaving open his options to inject further reform into the Grand Old Party. That was inevitable anyway, at least to one political observer.
It was four years ago that Theodore Lowi the Cornell University government professor who authored "The End of Liberalism" in 1969 published "The End of the Republican Era." Now, eight months before the 2000 presidential election, the professor says that time has come.
"Such is the construction of the national Republican coalition that it cannot last. The New Deal coalition was predicated on government growth and that's why it lasted so long, expanding and burning out during the Republican Nixon administration," he says.
"Similarly, the conservatism that has since risen achieved its greatest power during the '80s, culminating in the nominally Democratic Clinton administration."
Today, he concludes, "The three factions of the Republican Party cannot be held together the liberal/libertarian country club faction; the traditional, secular conservative small-town faction; and the Southern, sacred conservative faction. The fault lines are getting deeper."

How crude

Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, like every other motorist in America, is astounded at how much a gallon of gasoline costs.
"Cal here," he checked in via his car phone Thursday. "Driving through Alexandria, I notice that Texaco premium sells for $1.68 a gallon, two blocks away at the Exxon, it's $1.63 a gallon, and at the other Exxon, it's $1.75.
"A tremendous 12-cent disparity between the low and the high," he says. "I suggest you check it out."
Not to worry, Cal. To ease the burden of coping with these soaring gas prices projected to reach $2 a gallon this summer, if not before, in Alexandria, Va. some lawmakers are proposing that the 1993 gas tax of 4.3 cents a gallon be temporarily lifted.
Which means instead of paying $24 to fill up your 12-gallon tank, it will cost a mere $23.50.

House jester

Ask Rep. Bill Thomas, California Republican, to sing a few verses of his favorite song and you'll probably hear:
"The jester sang for the king and queen
"In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
"And a voice that came from you and me."
Mr. Thomas, we're happy to report, would sing Don McLean's original 8 and 1/2-minute classic of "American Pie" not the truncated, funky, electronic remake by Madonna riding on the top of today's music charts.
In fact, congressional aides attending the recent Republican members' retreat in Pennsylvania tell us a "very talented" Mr. Thomas, accompanied by a pianist, was turning heads with his rendition of the 1971 ballad.
When word spread throughout the retreat that the otherwise temperamental House Administration Committee chairman beat any lounge singer this side of Fargo, N.D., he happily sang the same song over again for the new arrivals.

Alla's secret

This week the Russian media have been reporting on the denial of a U.S. visa for a 13-year-old Chechnyan schoolgirl, Alla Geifman, who'd previously had two of her fingers severed by Chechens holding her for ransom.
Now, the Free Congress Foundation in Washington is suggesting that the Clinton administration fears the arrival of Alla "who does not follow the line of Washington on Chechen events … would reveal a different and real face of the Chechen war to the American public."
Actually, it was Free Congress and "Continent USA," a Russian-language newspaper, that had invited Alla and her parents to the United States. The foundation says the visa applications were considered at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, but denied without explanation.
"We know that for envoys of the Chechen bandits, Washington gives visas without any delays or interviews," the foundation's Robert McFarland tells this column.

Medal for Shaft

Gold Star Wives of America, a group of military widows, and American Gold Star Mothers, mothers of service members killed during active duty, are hosting a reception at Fort Myer Friday for three of their allies.
The Gold Star women say Rep. Lane Evans, Illinois Democrat and ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee; Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat; and The Washington Times' columnist John Fales Jr., a k a "Sgt. Shaft" each played a role in getting President Clinton to sign the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation reinstatement bill.
Because of the legislation, remarried widows whose subsequent marriage ended in death or divorce, are eligible once again for benefits.

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