- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2001

Pinup boy

When Rep. Susan Molinari of New York departed Congress four summers ago to pursue a career in news broadcasting, fellow female lawmakers presented her with an unusual going-away gift: a somewhat revealing (ie. chest hair) pinup calendar titled, "Susan Molinari's Hunks of the House 1998."

In other words, a dozen of the "manliest" men in Congress.

Not surprisingly, 10 of the 12 hunks were Republicans, the party preference of Mrs. Molinari. Only two were Democrats.

Guess who's among them?

That's right, Rep. Gary A. Condit, California Democrat, aka "Mr. Blow Dry."

The colorful calendar was the idea of fellow Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican.

"Some [hunks] were hard to cooperate with," Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen told Inside the Beltway at the calendar's introduction. "Then there was one [hunk] who gave me a photo where he was standing next to Bill ["Mr. Virtues"] Bennett, of all people."

Certainly not Mr. Condit.

Wouldn't you know, among the other hunks in the calendar was a good friend of Mr. Condit, former Rep. John R. Kasich, Ohio Republican.

In fact, the two lawmakers attended a pair of rock concerts — the Rolling Stones and Pearl Jam — together.

It was at the latter concert that Mr. Condit took his infamous float across the mosh pit.

Surfer girl

Were those red flip-flops on the feet of Sen. Barbara Boxer as she tended to business on the floor of the Senate on two separate occasions last week?

"It raised some eyebrows," one Senate observer said of the casual footwear.

"They were open-toed shoes," countered David Sandretti, Mrs. Boxer's press secretary, explaining that the Democratic senator from California had a "foot injury."

"This is not a fashion statement," he insists.

Hands on

Education Secretary Rod Paige certainly has hit the ground running.

In the first 180 days of the new administration, the secretary has visited 20 elementary, middle and high schools and four college campuses in 20 states stretching from California to Maine.

Meanwhile, here in Washington, both houses of Congress have passed versions of President Bush's education bill by overwhelming bipartisan majorities — 384-45 in the House and 91-8 in the Senate.

Bumbling balloteers

"In the same spirit of his acclaimed satire 'Clinton and Me: How Eight Years of a Pants-Free Presidency Changed My Nation, My Family, and My Life,' 'The Dumbest Generation' reveals what people inside the election business have known for years: Ignorant voters aren't a problem, they're a target demographic. From the bumbling balloteers of Florida to the crush of Dumb-and-Dumber culture filling the neighborhood multiplex, Graham hilariously sees a nation of people who should be 'denied the right to vote in any election not sponsored by TV Guide.'"

Summary of celebrated political humorist and consultant Michael Graham's new take on the greatest threat to democracy since World War II the ignorance of the average American voter — in "The Dumbest Generation" (Warner Books, iPublish.com, July 23).

Go figure

House Democratic leader Richard A. Gephardt makes a good point when comparing education and the shortage of teachers in the United States to incarceration and the number of prison guards.

"I was at a prison near Beaumont, Texas," says the Missouri Democrat. "They have 13,000 inmates and they have 7,000 employees. And I said to somebody, 'That's a pupil-teacher ratio of about 2-to-1.'

"If you had a 2-1 pupil-teacher ratio in every grade school in this country, I think you'd, over time, not have many people going to prison," he says.

No sympathy

If you wouldn't mind, Rep. John D. Dingell, Michigan Democrat, tell us how you really feel about the costly ($186,000 per year) energy bill that Vice President Richard B. Cheney is complaining about for the 33-room vice-presidential mansion?

"Oh, pity the vice president. His electric bill is too expensive," Mr. Dingell begins. "What is our unfortunate vice president to do?"

Suggests the liberal dean of the House: "Perhaps he would be well served by turning off some more lights around the house as Lyndon Johnson used to do, or maybe turning his air-conditioner off when he is not at home."

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