Friday, January 19, 2001

Green to Gore

The “Green Room” at the Environmental Protection Agency, a place where parties and large functions are held, is no more.

At a small ceremony this final week of the Clinton administration, it was formally renamed the “Al Gore Great Hall.” An engraved metal plaque (no doubt courtesy of the taxpayers) now hangs above the entrance.

The “Al Gore Great Hall” is located on the third floor at EPA headquarters near the office of outgoing Administrator Carol M. Browner, who had worked in Mr. Gore’s congressional office.

Before we go

Inside the Beltway has learned that the “Democrat-controlled” board of governors of the Voice of America (VOA) on the eve of the Bush administration is firing roughly three dozen broadcasters and managers in one last move to reshape the agency.

“We at VOA find it unconscionable, trying to pull this off on the eve of [the] Bush administration,” said a top VOA official, speaking yesterday on the condition of anonymity. “This is another poke in the eye for George Bush to keep him from governing effectively.”

The board, according to the official, will eliminate several VOA services, “cutting back dramatically to countries like Romania, where they’ve just elected a [former] Communist president, and strategic allies like Turkey an important Middle East crossroads just as the U.S. is trying to influence democratic change there.”

Jeb’s other half

Unsurprisingly, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris wants to celebrate the inauguration of George W. Bush. We’re told she has a preinaugural luncheon reservation for today at DC Coast, Washington’s trendy downtown restaurant.

Hearing thyselves

New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman got her first taste of how Congress works during her confirmation hearing to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

More than an hour after the hearing began, senators were still making opening personal remarks in praise of Mrs. Whitman or should we say, themselves?

Mrs. Whitman sat patiently waiting her turn to speak, as Democrats and Republicans took turns addressing those gathered to watch the upper chamber uphold its constitutional duty to grill President-elect George W. Bush’s nominee.

Finally, Sen. Christopher S. Bond, Missouri Republican, allowed Mrs. Whitman in on a secret: “Don’t believe our hearings are to hear witnesses. Maybe before lunchtime you will have the opportunity to make your opening statement.”

“I cannot follow that, so I will not,” replied Democratic Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who continued to use the entire time allotted to him for his opening statement.

Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Republican, was praised for giving the shortest opening statement about 30 seconds.

Scene of the crimeScene of the crime

The Watergate (yes, same one, albeit newly renovated by Swissotel) couldn’t be happier, hosting not only future first lady Laura Bush for her first social event in Washington, but also welcoming Vice President-elect Richard B. Cheney to a separate event.

Mrs. Bush treated her Midland, Texas, friends to dinner at Watergate’s Aquarelle restaurant (prepared, actually, by traveling Austin, Texas, chef David Garrido) Wednesday, telling hotel General Manager Jan Chovanec that she’d be back with her husband next time, who was busy practicing his inaugural address before a TelePrompTer.

Mr. Cheney, meanwhile, visited the Watergate’s ballroom to applaud some 300 members of the Republican National Committee for steering the Bush-Cheney ticket through a most bizarre election.

Cold oven

As President Bill Clinton purportedly bids a final adieu to the White House, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton digs her heels into her ninth year of politicking in the nation’s capital, Republican political consultant and former Ronald Reagan aide Lyn Nofziger forwards this timely edited verse from “Joy Skilmer”:

I wonder if we’ll ever see

A country that is Clinton-free,

A time when Hillary and Bill

Have left us and gone o’er the hill,

A time when they don’t think they’re meant,

Each one, to be our president,

To tell us all what’s best for us,

Defy us then to make a fuss,

To insist they’re meant to rule us,

Sure, as always, they can fool us,

A time when they at last have quit,

Their [drinking from] the public teat,

When Bill no longer wags his jaw,

Instead, goes home to Arkansas,

And Hillary no longer runs

But takes to baking hot cross buns.

Wrong house

“By now, I hope that you have received an advance copy of the February issue of the Atlantic Monthly, the first of our new design,” writes editor Michael Kelly, the reinvented cover of which he speaks showing a departing President Clinton tipping his top hat to the nation.

“With that in mind, we decided to turn this first cover into a poster. I’m sending one along to you, suitable for framing or not, for hanging in a newsroom cubicle or for gracing the foyer of the Clinton Wing in your home.”

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