- The Washington Times - Friday, July 20, 2001

Muddy waters
Republican members on Capitol Hill are being warned not to touch the Gary A. Condit story with a 10-foot pole, according to one high-ranking Republican aide.
Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., Oklahoma Republican, "said at the Republican leadership meeting this week that GOP leaders should not say a word about Condit to the press, because it just 'muddies the waters,'" says the Republican aide, referring to the embattled California Democrat and his missing intern girlfriend, Chandra Levy.
Meanwhile, at another recent gathering, we're told a senior Republican leadership member asked Mr. Condit point-blank if he was considering resigning from Congress, to which Mr. Condit is said to have replied: "Not at all, because I've done nothing wrong."

Condit factor
"So you write in advance about two Playboy bunnies wearing only strategically placed lettuce leaves and roasting meatless hot dogs on Capitol Hill this week, and then you leave us hanging," writes Jeff, an obviously disgruntled reader in Buffalo, N.Y. "So, how did they look?"
The hot dogs looked great, Jeff.
But to genuinely answer your question, our political observer in attendance, Steve A. Brown, reveals that over 500 veggie dogs and hungry souls were served by the Playboy bunnies in the space of an hour.
"Based on what I saw, the majority of those lining up for the treat were congressional staffers and largely male," says Mr. Brown. "Two current members of Congress and two former (members), all Democrats, tried the PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) treat. One member even went back for seconds."
As for the other congressman?
"The other current member had a staff get him his nonmeat hot dog because, as the member said, 'I have to watch the Condit factor.'"

Who needs fiction?
Marguaret Peterson of Sacramento, Calif., says she paid a visit Wednesday to the Sacramento Public Library, where a Signet paperback "jumped off the shelf at me."
The book in question was the 1999 novel "Capitol Scandal" by Sarah Gregory. It's the story of a Democratic congressman and an intern with whom he was having an affair. Then something horrible befalls the intern.
"Her body is found in Rock Creek Park," says Mrs. Peterson. "In fact, Rock Creek Park is mentioned in the second paragraph. The park is the choice of 'Washington runners of the lean and mean variety. …'
"One big difference between the book and real life is that victim Courtney Lee's body is found by Page 3, when a predawn jogger stumbles over it," says our reader. "The congressman, by the way, is from a prominent Texas political family."

Not impressed
Rep. George P. Radanovich, California Republican, tell us how he really feels about the leadership of California Gov. Gray Davis.
"This is one of the most obscene examples of incompetence I have ever seen."

Sicilian survivor
Speaking of crimes in Washington, of which there are far too many, Leoluca Orlando, a former mayor of Palermo, Sicily, who's been praised by Hillary Rodham Clinton for his crime-fighting efforts, arrives in Washington Monday to discuss with members of Congress the key role he played in curbing organized crime, corruption and violence in his homeland.
The president of the Sicilian Renaissance Institute, Mr. Orlando is author of the new book, "Fighting the Mafia and Renewing Sicilian Culture." Born and raised in Palermo, he came of age as the Sicilian Mafia was nearing the peak of its power, and says he was drawn to politics as a means to its end.
Working tirelessly to debunk the myth that Mafiosi were "men of honor," the mayor not surprisingly was marked for death along with other prominent leaders and magistrates. But unlike many of his friends, he managed to survive, surrounded by armed guards and moving from place to place in armored cars.
Ultimately, Mr. Orlando and other leaders were successful in reversing a century of Mafia influence. Last year, only a few murders were recorded in Palermo, none related to the Mafia, compared to the hundreds of murdered bodies that once littered the city's streets.
With the United States now victim to widespread crime and corruption, Mr. Orlando says he's coming to Washington to offer some important lessons.

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