- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2001

Government geography
The Senate Republican Policy Committee has pulled down a map from the Clinton classroom, used by the previous administration to pinpoint local education issues, including those in Owensboro, Ky.
"But leave it to the federal government to put Owensboro in Tennessee," observes the GOP, which opposes the Democratic desire to control local education decisions from Washington.
"How can that help students in Owensboro when the feds cant even find Owensboro on a map?" the Republicans ask.

Clinton censorship
Inside the Beltway has learned that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman for now will not bow to pressure from certain EPA employees and tribal groups and cover historic murals at agency headquarters.
That decision is in sharp contrast to a letter written on April 6 by EPA facilities director Rich Lemley, informing Michael Mechau whose father, Colorado artist Frank Mechau, in 1937 painted "Dangers of the Mail" in tribute to frontier postal carriers — that after an "involved consultation" between the EPA and General Services Administration, "based on our collective concern," the murals will be encased behind "protective covers."
Mr. Lemley informed Mr. Mechau that the questionable murals — hidden by the Clinton administration in recent months behind screens — "generated considerable controversy among specific groups of employees and the public, including several Native American groups."
The artists son wrote to Mrs. Whitman on Feb. 19, extending congratulations on her Cabinet appointment and pointing out that "surely there is a better way to deal with this controversy, more respectful of art, history, and democracy than to cover these murals or have them removed."
Now, a spokesman for Mrs. Whitman tells Inside the Beltway that contrary to Mr. Lemleys letter, the EPA chief has ordered a "review" of all matters surrounding the murals, which not only depict massacres of whites, including a naked woman about to be scalped, but massacres of Indians as well.
Incredibly enough, this column late last year obtained a memo in which EPA chief Carol M. Browner encouraged disgruntled employees to view the murals "in their historical perspective," adding that each mural was "subject to protective provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act."
Surprisingly, on Nov. 9, 2000 — only two days after the presidential election — EPA assistant administrator Romulo Diaz Jr. revealed in writing that Mrs. Browner "has told me that she finds the murals deeply troubling and inappropriate for display in EPAs workplace (and) asked me to ensure that the murals are covered until we are able to reach our ultimate goal of removing them from public view."
"Nothing happens until we complete the review," Mrs. Whitmans spokesman told us Friday, adding that the former New Jersey governor also will personally consult with Mr. Mechau, the artists son, who points out that his father was actually "a great admirer of American Indians."
Ironically, the GSA last Friday began a restoration project on all the murals, controversial or not.

Cleaner than cars
Yet another last-minute Clinton administration ruling — a ban on personal watercraft in several national parks put in place in April 2000 — raises "red flags" as far as Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton can see.
Her department has decided to review personal watercraft bans in four national parks from North Carolina to Indiana.
"Im delighted Secretary Norton chose to revisit these parks and believe when it is complete personal watercraft users will be able to continue to share our national parks with all other recreationalists," says Monita Fontaine of the Washington-based Personal Watercraft Industry.
"The … industry has invested $1 billion in the past three years producing boats that are 75 percent cleaner and 70 percent quieter. In fact, todays personal watercraft meet the 2006 EPA clean air standards today — five years early," he says.
"It took the automobile manufacturers three decades to meet the same kinds of standards."

Gore meets Bush
"I felt scared as hell," admitted Saturday Night Live comedian Darrell Hammond, who makes a living impersonating presidents and vice presidents, after wowing the packed audience at the White House Correspondents Association annual dinner Saturday night.
"I mean, this is like no other crowd anywhere — these are the most powerful people on earth," Mr. Hammond told Inside the Beltway immediately after his performance. "Its one thing to impersonate these guys and another to be up on the stage with them. But I survived."


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