- The Washington Times - Monday, May 22, 2000

Thought that counts

What happens to all the expensive union-made party favors when a million moms are invited to a Washington event and only 500,000 show up?

Literally hundreds of thousands of dripping-wet "Mother's Day" cards, bumper stickers and silver-dollar-sized buttons packed in hundreds of unprotected sealed cardboard boxes intended for distribution at the recent "Million Mom March" against gun violence sat under a tree in the pouring rain at Fourth and Madison streets near the U.S. Capitol Friday.

"Forget the flowers, forget the chocolate, forget breakfast in bed," said one soggy card peeled off another. "This Mother's Day give us a present that lasts."

First lady again

Each year the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., sends an invitation to the White House seeking a commencement speaker for its June graduation ceremony.

The academy was delighted one year ago when Vice President Al Gore accepted. But that was an exception.

So as a "precautionary thing," the academy lines up "a secondary person" to deliver the commencement, says academy Chief-of-Staff Bob Safarik, in a telephone interview with Inside the Beltway.

"They usually wind up as the speaker," Mr. Safarik acknowledges. This year's "secondary person" was, until recently, Navy Secretary Richard Danzig.

Wouldn't you know, less than two weeks ago the White House notified the Merchant Marines that it had found a commencement speaker for the June 19th ceremony after all. New York Senate candidate … um, we mean first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, is delighted to address the graduates.

Thanks anyway, Mr. Danzig.

Suspending Sunley

Good grief, talk about getting chewed out by the professor in front of the entire class!

Let's pull up a chair to the most recent hearing of the House Committee on Science, empaneled to discuss ways to renew science, math, engineering and technology education from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The committee's chairman, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, is calling the hearing to order and gives a warm welcome to the panel of witnesses.

Or at least all but one, the exception being Judy Sunley, acting assistant director of the National Science Foundation.

"Dr. Sunley, you work for a federal agency, the National Science Foundation," Mr. Sensenbrenner begins. "We received your testimony two minutes before this hearing began. That is insulting to this committee and is in direct violation of the rules of this committee, which require the filing of testimony 24 hours in advance so the staff and members can review what the witnesses have to say.

"You know better than to come in two minutes before the hearing to give us your testimony," the chairman scolds. "Today I am going to excuse you and ask you to go back the NSF and not testify here today… . Thank you very much for coming here, Dr. Sunley."

Oh, and one more thing: "I will be talking to [NSF Director] Dr. [Rita] Colwell about your abject failure in insulting this committee by coming in with the testimony two minutes beforehand. For the rest of the witnesses, we welcome your testimony. Dr. Sunley gets an F today for turning in her papers tardy."

Chain saw, Bruce?

Wait until Vice President Al "Earth in the Balance" Gore catches wind of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt's opinion when discussing the "systematic failure" (a k a playing with matches in the forest on a windy day) in the National Park Service that left 405 families of Los Alamos, N.M., homeless.

"These forests are too thick," Mr. Babbitt complains. "They're explosive, they're dangerous, and the reason is because fire has been excluded for 100 years and there's too much fuel in the forests, too many trees."

I feel your pain

We wrote last Friday that Chaplain Emeritus James D. "Jim" Ford was presented with a distinguished service award by the Association of Former Members of Congress during its annual meeting on Capitol Hill.

The name of the award speaks for itself, although House Minority Whip David E. Bonior, Michigan Democrat, recalls one particular day when Mr. Ford's service to congressmen went beyond the call of duty.

"I remember one instance when I was in the hospital with Jim… . I think it was Walter Reed. We both were pretty ill and we were going down for an operation together.

"They wheeled us just coincidentally out of our ward together. We got [into] the elevator together. We went down the elevator together and we separated. And just before we separated to go in our respective surgical rooms he said to me, 'Bonior, I want you to remember, this is what I call real chaplainship.' "

Mr. Bonior says, "He was there for me in my hour of need right into the operating room."

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