- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Strom's secret

A recent headline of this newspaper read: "Strom Thurmond: The ranking U.S. senator retains his eye for attractive women at age 98."

The big question on everybody's mind has been how does the South Carolina Republican who ran for president in 1948 against Harry S. Truman and Thomas Dewey do it?

Now we know.

This columnist just happened to be dining at the same Old Town Alexandria establishment Stardust Restaurant & Lounge at 608 Montgomery St. as Mr. Thurmond Saturday night, during which our favorite senator slurped down not one, not two, not three, not four but an astonishing five appetizer orders of raw oysters.

Six oysters per order, mind you, for a grand total of 30 raw oysters swallowed by the senior senator. Before dinner.

"It is definitely a record," the Stardust's Avery Kincaid said upon inquiry.

Like every other woman, Miss Kincaid finds Mr. Thurmond "just so cute."

Flying bull

No, there's no truth to the rumor that President-elect George W. Bush, the former Texas governor, will fly to his historic presidential inauguration aboard a jet outfitted with Texas longhorns.

Still, such flying bull makes for a great piece of art, as pictured in today's column.

'Beleaguered' ball

And what private inaugural ball will the Washington press corps be attending Saturday evening?

"Come have a ball at the Newseum," reads the invitation. "Charles L. Overby, chairman and chief executive officer, and Peter S. Prichard, president, The Freedom Forum, cordially invite you and a guest to a special evening honoring the beleaguered press, past and present."

For the record, the "beleaguered press" has covered 54 presidential elections.

Everything's peachy

Not all Democrats and Republicans will be throwing tomatoes at each other this inaugural week.

Reps. Gary A. Condit, California Democrat, and Richard W. Pombo, California Republican, have gone so far as to announce a "bipartisan agriculture discussion" with Secretary of Agriculture-designate Ann Veneman.

"To my knowledge, this is the only [inaugural] event sponsored by a Republican and Democrat," says Doug Heye, of Mr. Pombo's staff.

The unique meeting will take place just hours before this week's inauguration ceremony, and Mr. Pombo hopes "that its bipartisan nature will demonstrate a new era of cooperation with the Bush administration."

Actually, Mr. Condit says he and Miss Veneman have been friends for several years, "and I can think of no one who brings better credentials to the table."

Miss Veneman, 51, a lawyer and daughter of peach farmers, was California's agriculture secretary from 1995 until January 1999. From 1986 to 1993, she was deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture under President George H.W. Bush, becoming the highest-ranking woman ever to serve within the department.

Wanted posters

The State Department is still searching for its missing laptop computer apparently containing top-secret files on foreign nuclear capabilities, or so posters hanging at State's C Street headquarters reveal.

The posters offer a $25,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the much-sought-after black Dell laptop with a five-digit serial number ending in the letter "Q." The posters encourage employees who might have information on the computer to contact the FBI.

The FBI tells us that if turned on, the computer screen might display a grouping of icons "that do not appear linked to the State Department."

One official at the FBI's Washington field office says: "Given that the computer disappeared [12 months] ago, it could also now be in the hands of someone who had nothing to do with its disappearance, who is not aware of its origin, and who could benefit from the reward."

In closing

Which member of the Clinton administration, if you could choose from four, had the highest standard of honesty?

That was the question put to 900 registered voters during a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll. The results probably won't surprise you:

President Clinton: 3 percent.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: 12 percent.

Al Gore: 26 percent.

Janet Reno: 34 percent.

None: 25 percent.

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