- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 14, 2000

Al the Rat

A Chinese-American preparing an order of General Tso's chicken in Washington yesterday couldn't figure out why Democrats are calling for an investigation of a Republican television commercial aimed at Vice President Al Gore that subtly flashed the word "RATS" across the screen.
"I've never seen anything like it," the vice president was quoted as saying, while running-mate Joseph I. Lieberman called the ad "very disappointing and strange."
After all, the Chinese zodiac consists of a 12-year cycle, each year named after a different animal that "imparts distinct characteristics," according to the place mat at our favorite Chinese restaurant.
"Many Chinese believe that the year of a person's birth is the primary factor in determining that person's personality traits, physical and mental attributes and degree of success and happiness throughout his or her lifetime," the place mat continues.
Mr. Gore was born on March 31, 1948. And anybody who eats Chinese food knows that's the Year of the Rat.
"Prone to spend freely," the place mat says of Mr. Gore and his fellow rats. "Seldom make lasting friendships. Most compatible with Dragons and Monkeys."

Awaiting trial

Crime-and-punishment watchdogs be advised that the trial of Vice President Al Gore's teen-age son, Albert Arnold Gore III, reportedly clocked racing his automobile at nearly 100 mph through North Carolina, has been postponed until after Election Day.
The 17-year-old Gore was scheduled to be tried yesterday in Currituck County, but now will appear Nov. 22 to face charges of reckless driving and speeding 97 mph in a 55-mph zone.
The young Mr. Gore was arrested on Aug. 12 following a family beach vacation, charged with operating a vehicle "in a manner so as to endanger persons and property."

Forgotten country

Longtime bureaucrat Don C. Terrill has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman after being denied permission to participate as a "Confederate American" in the department's Diversity Days Celebration.
"His family goes back to Virginia, goes back to Jamestown," says Kirk D. Lyons, chief trial counsel of the Southern Legal Resource Center. "His ancestors were also from the Confederate states of Alabama, Mississippi, and one of them fought for the South from Texas."
Mr. Lyons believes it's the first discrimination lawsuit of its kind filed at the federal level.
"I think it's long overdue because of the amount of discrimination that exists today," says the counsel, who assisted in preparing the lawsuit.
"There is no legal redress," notes Mr. Lyons. "If you happen to be white, you have no access to the civil rights laws that protect minorities. There is no judicial recognition of Confederate Americans."
He notes that Puerto Rican Americans are accorded "national-origin" status, as are the relatively small number of Cajuns, the French Canadians forcibly resettled in Louisiana.
"Yet here we have a nation that existed for 4* years, which had its own capital, its own navy, its own courts and post offices, and yet it's not accorded national-origin status?"
"Southerners meet all the criteria," he says. "They have a right to it."
Mr. Terrill, a federal employee for 35 years, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, a block from where the first fatality an innkeeper shot by federal troops for refusing to lower a Confederate flag was recorded in the Civil War.
If necessary, Mr. Lyons says he will appeal the case to the 4th Circuit Court in Richmond, "and we'd be happy to take it to the Supreme Court."
As for the Labor Department, its position is very simple. There is no federal classification for Confederate Americans, and they dismissed Mr. Terrill's participation in the Diversity Days celebration on that basis.

Will & Joe

The fourth annual Human Rights Campaign national dinner in Washington on Oct. 7 has an all-star lineup, including Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joseph I. Lieberman and the producer and star of the Emmy award-winning television show "Will & Grace."
Mr. Lieberman, who RSVP'd for himself and his wife, Hadassah, has earned a 100 percent voting record from the nation's largest homosexual organization in this 106th Congress. The Connecticut Democrat is lead sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and co-sponsor of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
"As the first vice-presidential nominee of Jewish faith, Joseph Lieberman has broken an important barrier that will benefit all people," says HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch.
Max Mutchnick, "Will & Grace" co-creator and co-executive producer, will be presented with the HRC's National Equity Award. He'll be joined at the dinner by "Will & Grace" star Eric McCormack, whose character is homosexual.

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