- The Washington Times - Friday, February 2, 2001

Surgery season

Sympathy is expressed for Congressional Budget Office Director Dan Crippen by Sen. Christopher S. Bond, Missouri Republican.

Mr. Crippen was supposed to be testifying before the Senate Budget Committee, but instead was recovering from five hours of surgery made necessary by a boating accident off the Caribbean island of Virgin Gorda.

(Mr. Crippen's staff said they would have been more sympathetic had their boss broken a leg shoveling snow.)

His arm sausaged in bandages after his own surgery for an arthritic thumb, Mr. Bond opined as to how "some of the post-operative medications make these budget hearings more bearable."

"That's why I am pleased to be here today," he said.

No comment from Mr. Crippen, wherever he recuperates.

Joke's on Lott

We've picked up the new soft-cover edition of "Sex, Politics and the End of Morality," by J. Gordon Muir (Pentland Press, $17.95), to find out why as the book's cover suggests "Zippergate" was no big deal.

The author tells of the eclipsing of the "traditional" culture in America, recalling how people, politicians and pundits were all scratching their heads trying to figure out how former President Clinton could reach a peak of personal popularity (over 70 percent approval rating) several weeks into the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, at a time when polls also showed that most people knew he was lying about his affair.

"Here is the answer," writes Mr. Muir, a former practicing physician, citing a University of Chicago study issued three years prior to the Lewinsky affair.

"This is a nation where well over half the adult population do not consider extramarital sex necessarily wrong or bad. [Senate Majority Leader] Trent Lott thought he was joking about a further post-Lewinsky bimbo affair shooting the president's popularity to 100 percent."

Josiah and Dubya

Proving he's not really the president, actor Martin Sheen has offered to call President Bush on Monday and urge him to work with the Russians to take all nuclear weapons off "hair-trigger" alert.

"I'd be delighted to call the White House," says Mr. Sheen, who plays President Josiah Bartlet on NBC's "The West Wing." He recalls Mr. Bush expressing concern about the weapons during his recent campaign.

"I'm going to call him to remind him that he was right," says the actor.

There are a reported 5,000 nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Russia on hair-trigger alert.

Mr. Bush's seeds

One day after President Bush told lawmakers and spiritual leaders that Uncle Sam should be helping religious groups that help the needy, the Catholic Charities will keep the theme alive at its annual ball outside Washington this evening.

"Government cannot be replaced by charity, but it can welcome them as partners instead of resenting them as rivals," Mr. Bush told the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday, proposing initiatives that would allow religious institutions to compete for social-services money distributed by the government.

The president is also calling for tax breaks to help stimulate charitable giving, which would no doubt be applauded by the 1,100 attending the 19th annual Catholic Charities Ball at the Ritz-Carlton, among them Catholic Bishop Paul S. Loverde and Catholic Charities' director, the Rev. Chuck McCoart.

Catholic leaders were invited by Mr. Bush into the White House Wednesday to discuss his faith-based initiative.

"The theme this year is 'A Winter Garden,' " says ball co-chairman Jan Matthews Test. "We have also tried to carry the theme throughout our program by giving the guests 'seeds of charity' to remind everyone of the purpose of Catholic Charities. To date, [we've] raised over $525,000. We hope that will buy a lot of seeds."

And yes, proceeds of the ball will be used for programs to help those in need "regardless of religious affiliation."

Branching out

We're told Mary Kate Kelly-Johnson, former finance director for the 2001 Presidential Inaugural Committee and deputy finance director for Bush-Cheney 2000 and Victory 2000, will join Cassidy & Associates as a vice president, strengthening the Republican wing of the firm's government-affairs professionals.

The extra dollar

With the departure of Jim Nicholson, the Republican National Committee has a new chairman in Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III.

"Americans from all walks of life are enthused by the Bush presidency. They're eager to start an era of national unity, and eager to put the excessive bickering and partisanship of the past eight years far behind them," says Mr. Gilmore.

Among his first duties was to release the RNC's financial report for 2000, which counts 436,000 new first-time contributors to the party. Add them to another 2.1 million givers, who for the year gave an average individual contribution of $101.

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