Monday, May 1, 2000

Grounded G-men

FBI Director Louis J. Freeh not only ran out of gas the other day he ran out of credit.

A senior Justice Department official (who can’t be identified for fear of being transferred to Butte, Mont.) says Mr. Freeh and a delegation of G-men were traveling on the director’s private plane last Thursday when the aircraft needed refueling.

No problem. Mr. Freeh, the second highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the land if counting Attorney General Janet Reno, whipped out his official FBI credit card which, it turns out, wasn’t worth the plastic it was printed on.

It appears the FBI’s top guns forgot to send the director’s credit-card statements to the bureau’s accounting department. So the credit-card company, unbeknownst to Mr. Freeh, froze the account.

“They were calling back to Washington to bark at the accounting guys when they realized they hadn’t paid their bill,” says the official.

Advised of the director’s dilemma, one senior FBI agent suggested that the traveling party pony-up their personal credit cards and each pay for a portion of the fuel.

If that didn’t work, the agent suggested the grounded G-men hike, hat-in-hand, to the nearest military installation and beg for some fuel.

The next day, the FBI agent was overheard saying, “I don’t know how they got home.”

Firearms violation

While Attorney General Janet Reno is baby-sitting Elian Gonzalez and his gang of Cuban playmates, Assistant Attorney General David Ogden was handed the honor of opening a letter from Rep. Bob Barr.

“On March 17, 2000,” the Georgia Republican writes, “the federal government coerced Smith & Wesson into implementing certain gun control measures by agreeing to terminate pending lawsuits filed by HUD and other units of government against the firearms manufacturer.

“Certain to obtain this agreement from Smith & Wesson, the Clinton administration reportedly agreed to purchase only Smith & Wesson products for use by the federal government law enforcement agencies,” he writes.

Which could violate the Competition in Contracting Act, ensuring Uncle Sam’s procurements are free and not fraudulent. Or President Clinton’s own Executive Order 13005, on the importance of competition in procuring government property.

“If the Clinton Administration follows through with its promise regarding Smith & Wesson firearms, it would appear to be a per se violation of this act,” says Mr. Barr, who wants an investigation.

Ice cream and dessert

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has just held its annual Warren T. Brookes Memorial Dinner at the Mayflower Hotel, the keynote speaker being Virginia’s former Gov. George Allen, who hopes to unseat Virginia Democratic Sen. Charles S. Robb in November.

Former Transportation Secretary Andrew H. Card, National Review Washington Editor Kate O’Beirne and CEI President Fred L. Smith, by far the most entertaining, also addressed the competitive crowd.

Mr. Smith told the audience just to imagine the “weight-gain and weight-loss monopoly” that multinational conglomerate Unilever enjoys by purchasing both Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Slim-Fast Foods.

“They get us going and coming,” he noted.

True heroes

Anyone who thinks he’s climbed his career ladder to its highest rung should consider Theodore Roosevelt, one of the most accomplished men of the 20th century.

We’ve just finished reading the re-release of “Hero Tales of American History,” 26 profiles written by close friends Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge. The book project had been suggested by Roosevelt’s wife, Edith, after hearing the two men trade stories over the dinner table one evening.

“The two men took up her challenge with glee,” writes George Grant of Bannockburn College in the book’s introduction. Throughout 1894 and the first few months of 1895, Lodge would write 12 hero profiles (George Washington to Abraham Lincoln) and Roosevelt 14 (Daniel Boone to Stonewall Jackson).

“Both had unusual philosophical and political outlooks that exalted the common people and their remarkable ability to realize the American dream,” says Mr. Grant. “Both were deeply devout and scrupulously moral then, as now, rather rare traits in Washington.”

And when he wasn’t busy writing 60 books (he read at least five books a week), Roosevelt before his 50th birthday had served as a New York State legislator, undersecretary of the Navy, New York City police commissioner, U.S. Civil Service commissioner, New York governor, vice president under William McKinley, colonel in the U.S. Army, and two terms as president of the United States.

In addition, he had run a cattle ranch in the Dakota Territories, was a reporter and editor of several newspapers and magazines, and conducted scientific expeditions (he was a botanist, ornithologist and astronomer) on four continents.

His favorite place to walk: Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C.

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