- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2000

Not quite senator

The John McCain back at work on Capitol Hill in no shape or form resembles the John McCain who left town several months ago to campaign for the presidency.

The senator this week might not be commanding any additional respect from his colleagues, but he's getting plenty of attention from the gaggles of reporters and Girl Scouts camped outside his office awaiting his next move.

How long this political adoration will last remains to be seen. But for now the Arizona Republican remains caught in its whirlwind trapped somewhere between a failed presidential bid and his neglected responsibilities on Capitol Hill.

He began yesterday with an address to fellow Republicans on campaign finance reform, the cornerstone of his presidential candidacy. Afterward, the senator was pleased when one lawmaker told him, "While we have some specific disagreements, we want to work with you."

He ended yesterday with a Hall of States reception for his "McCain 2000" staff and volunteers, including members of the press who followed his pursuit of the White House.

During the rest of the day, the senator greeted a steady stream of well-wishers, parading into his office on both official and unofficial business.

"There's another meeting in half an hour, so please come back," he invited this columnist at one point, while posing for pictures with Sen. Russell D. Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who has teamed up with him on campaign finance reform legislation.

What's the meeting about?

"Damn if I know," Mr. McCain replied, sounding as if he was serious.

"All I know is my son Jimmy is down at the barbershop, as we speak, getting a haircut that he desperately needs."

Outside his immediate office, standing beneath a "McCain in 2000" campaign poster, a staff member remarked: "We're happy to have him back. We missed the guy. Apart from all the press hanging around outside, it's back to business as usual."

Not quite, but no doubt soon.

Imus fan

Book prominently displayed on the coffee table in Sen. John McCain's private office: "Two Guys Four Corners. Don Imus & Fred Imus."

Jimmy's preserve

Former President Jimmy Carter is off globetrotting, therefore was unable to be in Washington last evening to receive the National Park Conservation Association's leadership award.

But he did appear via videotape, saying 20 years after his presidency the wilds of Alaska are "still under attack by partisans who want to bring development into the last great frontier of our continent."

If you didn't guess, the award recognized Mr. Carter's role in getting the controversial Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 through Congress, setting aside 104 million acres as federally protected land, and more than doubling the size of the national park system.

Tough job

"I was on a radio talk show earlier this morning for an hour or so," remarked Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat. "When [one person later] said I had my head screwed on right, I just say that is the nicest thing said about me all day."

You're a millionaire!

Rep. Jack Kingston, Georgia Republican, wasn't happy to begin with when the U.S. Census Bureau didn't undertake its 2000 census with the constitutionally required head count, opting instead for a sample.

Now the bureau has demonstrated its efficiency by mailing 120 million forms each with an extra "1" to the wrong addresses.

Mr. Kingston explains the forms got to the right houses "because the post office, being another government agency, knows how to think like a governmental agency, so they figured out what the Census Bureau was really trying to do."

He suggests the Census Bureau call Reader's Digest Sweepstakes, because they "will show you how to do a mailer, they will show you how to get responses, and maybe we can get this thing done."

Clinton cinema

Finally, considerable response to our item yesterday on the National Air and Space Museum debuting for the first time in its 25-year history a film that has nothing to do with aviation and space, but rather the life of retired basketball superstar Michael Jordan.

We'll let reader Larry Stone sum up the general feelings:

"I agree, Michael Jordan is a cultural icon. However to try and draw an analogy between his jumping ability and the National Air and Space Museum themes is ludicrous. It is just another politically correct revision of historical 'miscreation.' We are in the process of change in this country; this administration is creating noise so as to dilute the ties to history, create a chaotic environment, and revise the links to meet a political perspective of the accomplishments within the museum."

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