- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2001

Fiddling for votes

Was George Washington, a wealthy landowner if there ever was one in early Virginia, among the first American politicians to buy an election?

"If we use today's rhetoric," he most certainly was, says Sen. Robert F. Bennett, Utah Republican, noting that Washington spent about 25 pounds apiece on two elections for the Virginia House of Burgesses, 39 pounds on a third election, and some 50 pounds on a fourth in those days many times more than the cost of a house or plot of land.

But wait, there's more.

"Washington's electioneering expenses included the usual rum punch, cookies and ginger cakes, money for the poll watcher who records the votes, and even one election eve ball," notes the senator, "complete with a fiddler."

Akey to Firestone

Enduring the bumpiest ride in automobile tire history, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., will open a Washington office next week, tapping federal transportation veteran Steven Akey as its government relations honcho with the title of vice president.

"This is part of our ongoing commitment to continue open dialogue with members of Congress, the administration, government agencies and other organizations," says the company's chairman and CEO, John Lampe.

Dialogue that's been none too pleasant of late, as the world's largest tire and rubber company has been blamed for dozens of highway fatalities resulting from tread separation on several of its tire brands.

Mr. Akey, who lives in Alexandria, brings to the company's new post a wealth of government experience. He's past senior strategist and chief spokesman for the secretary of transportation and has also served as a senior adviser and chief spokesman for the administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.

His wife, Joyce, we might point out, is director of public affairs for the U.S. Postal Service.

Recalling 007

Sir Sean Connery a k a "Bond, James Bond" is coming to Washington next week in celebration of National Tartan Day.

At the U.S. Capitol's second annual Tartan Day ceremony, the American Scottish Foundation will present the famous actor with its Wallace Award, named after Scottish hero William Wallace, or "Braveheart."

Mr. Connery is a high-profile supporter of the Scottish National Party and a staunch campaigner for an independent Scotland so much so that in 1997, his knighthood was vetoed by the British government.

But two years ago British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor Party had a change of heart, making Mr. Connery a knight.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott will preside over next week's ceremony on the West Terrace of the Capitol. Mr. Lott was chief sponsor of the 1998 National Tartan Day Resolution, which declared April 6 an annual day to celebrate American-Scottish contributions to the United States.

Our Scottish-American sources expect Mr. Connery to be wearing his kilt while in Washington next week. He wore one for the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. Mr. Lott, who received the Wallace Award last year, also sported his kilt in fine tradition.

Come to think of it, look for the naked kneecaps of Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, who was wearing a kilt during the Scottish Christmas Walk in Alexandria, Va., last year.

Power tied

After such a long and distinguished career in the U.S. military, retired general-turned-Secretary of State Colin Powell says now that he no longer wears a green suit all the time, "I am faced with that most difficult of choices every morning to find a tie that is not black."

Escapee

Interior Secretary Gale Norton disclosed to the National Newspaper Association's government affairs conference in Washington that she was once in the newspaper business herself.

"Well, we all have one thing in common," she told the nation's leading scribes. "For most of my undergraduate years at the University of Denver, I was a journalism major."

Mrs. Norton, in fact, was news editor of her college newspaper, the Denver Clarion.

"I made $12 an issue, which made it easy to go into public service," she says. "I switched finally to pre-law. You could say I went from making deadlines to making loopholes."

Long, hot summer

"If we are facing blackouts now with these mild temperatures, can you imagine what the summer months will bring as consumers begin to run their air conditioning?"

House Deputy Majority Whip George P. Radanovich, a California Republican who serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Resources Committee.


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