- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2001

Final edition

"In tribute to her unwavering commitment to conservative ideals, Mrs. Zodun will be buried clasping an edition of The Washington Times announcing George W. Bush's victory in last year's presidential election."

Richmond Times-Dispatch obituary for political activist Leslie Zodun, who championed causes before the Virginia General Assembly starting in the 1950s. Mrs. Zodun died recently of a heart attack at the age of 80.

Free the comma

In rising to introduce House Resolution 861, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner felt inclined to paraphrase Daniel Webster, who in defending Dartmouth College noted: "It may be small, but there are those who love it."

"Nothing could be more true with this bill," said the Wisconsin Republican, observing the resolution simply corrects Section 10 of Title 9 of the United States Code "a typographical flaw that has long evaded detection."

In fact, since 1925.

What has come to be known as the congressman's "comma bill" would merely insert "a comma," albeit in a much needed place.

"Some may try to diminish the importance of this bill, but one should never underestimate the importance of a comma," said Mr. Sensenbrenner. "Let us be honest with ourselves, when used properly, a comma can be devastatingly effective.

"To paraphrase the late Everett Dirksen, a comma here, a comma there, and pretty soon you have got a full sentence."

The comma bill, we're pleased to report, passed on a voice vote and now awaits final Senate action. Which, unfortunately, can be a high hurdle for such a small comma.

You see, the comma bill also passed in the last two congressional sessions, only to be held hostage by unrelated issues in the Senate.

Deflated tire

We were inundated with mail after Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Oregon Democrat, testified in this column yesterday that he can "pedal" his bicycle to the vast majority of his meetings around Washington faster than his congressional colleagues can get there in cars or cabs.

He was making the point that the bicycle "is the most efficient means of transportation that has ever been devised. Unlike the horse or automobile, there is no pollution generated from cycling … and the cyclist takes up a fraction of the roadway."

Now, everybody from Omer Bin Abdullah to Christopher C. Horner writes to say, not so fast, congressman.

Mr. Horner, counsel to the Cooler Heads Coalition of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, responds: "President Bush and I welcome Representative Blumenauer's admission that, seeing as how a bicyclist only emits all of that huffed-and-puffed carbon dioxide, 'there is no pollution generated from cycling.' Unfortunately, after that, his analysis needs some training wheels.

"As MIT-trained engineer Peter Huber articulated in his book 'Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists,' given the small human 'footprint' of modern energy exploration human-powered transit is actually far less ecologically friendly, and less energy-efficient, than our modern blessings such as the SUV [sport utility vehicle].

"That's right. Calculating the land-for-land comparison of the resources required to construct, power and pave for an SUV, the carbohydrate-based transportation of the bicycle gets utterly deflated. You see, Huber demonstrates that 'a car engine (including the refining and distribution systems behind it) is about twice as efficient in converting crude oil to locomotion as the grain-bread-muscle systems are in converting the energy in food to locomotion …

"It can pick up more [factors] if the biker eats a lot of meat, because he's wasting a lot of land for all those cows.' "

Single direction

Get a load of this: Uncle Sam spends $150 billion annually on welfare programs to subsidize and support single-parent families, yet only $150 million a year trying to reduce out-of-wedlock births.

"In other words," says Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, "we spend 1,000 times as much money supporting single-parent families as we spend encouraging parents to commit to raising their children together."

Shaping a president

Congratulating volunteers for distributing over a quarter of a million books to children across Massachusetts, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy recalls that his mother, Rose Kennedy, "read for endless hours to all nine of us" Kennedy children.

"When President Kennedy was young," his brother recalled, "two of his favorite books were 'Billy Whiskers' and 'King Arthur and the Round Table.' "

TV contest

Number of televised political ads aired by presidential and congressional candidates during the 2000 election: 839,243.

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