- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2001

Tycoon to president

A letter this column obtained, sent by Bruce Bennett, librarian at the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 9 headquarters in San Francisco, to Arctic Power, not only blasts the latter for its pro-oil-exploration position in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but contains a few choice words for President Bush, too.

"I also find it irritating," the EPA official writes to Arctic Power, "that people such as you go on and on about our need to regain energy self-sufficiency when we are shipping a good portion of the Alaska pipeline oil (I have been told up to 20-25 percent) overseas where it fetches a better price."

"Of course," the bureaucrat continues, "industry flacks such as you spend precious little time on the ideas of alternative energy and conservation. These routes are effective despite your attempt to belittle them."

"Finally," Mr. Bennett opines, "I keep thinking that the oil industry doesn't really give a damn about the impending condition of global warming (Bush refers to it as a 'social fad,' a perfect denial by an oil man)."

Before becoming Texas governor, Mr. Bush made his fortune in the oil business and as managing partner of a group that held a controlling interest in the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Asked about his reference to the president, Mr. Bennett told Inside the Beltway yesterday that his letter was not meant to reflect the EPA's position.

Animal cruelty

The Democratic National Committee, under the guidance of Clinton pal and money man Terry McAuliffe, has written an intriguing history of the donkey and elephant, the accepted symbols of the Democratic and Republican parties.

The DNC points out that although the Democratic Party has never officially adopted the donkey as its party symbol, it does endorse various donkey designs.

But the Republicans, to the amazement of the DNC, have actually adopted the elephant as their official symbol.

"The Democrats think of the elephant as bungling, stupid, pompous and conservative," the DNC admits, obviously unconcerned about offending the animal-rights community.

"Adlai Stevenson provided one of the most clever descriptions of the Republicans' symbol when he said, 'The elephant has thick skin, a head full of ivory, and as everyone who has seen a circus parade knows, proceeds best by grasping the tail of its predecessor.' "

Free Joe Lieberman

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, whose stance against TV sex and violence melted after Tinseltown showered Al Gore's campaign with contributions, can redeem himself, but only when the "real" Joe Lieberman stands up.

So says Empower America co-director Bill Bennett, appearing at a breakfast yesterday hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

"I still think the real Joe Lieberman is in a straitjacket somewhere in a hospital up in New York state. He was kidnapped early, and this impostor, who didn't believe anything Joe Lieberman used to believe, was the running mate," says Mr. Bennett, who once stood with the real Joe to bestow "Silver Sewer Awards" to those who "pollute" the culture for personal gain.

"If we see the return of the real Joe Lieberman," says Mr. Bennett, "sure he can take these issues up again. He's a good speaker and he's a serious man and he can say he had a bit of a battle with campaignitis."

Hallow's gravitas

"I have searched high and low, in every dictionary I could find, for the word gravitas," writes Jack Dorwin, of Livingston, Texas. "It is nowhere to be found.

"I strongly suspect that the Democrats coined that word for the sole purpose of being critical of George W. Bush. Chris Matthews used it again today in reference to Vice President Dick Cheney being 'Bush's sidekick with gravitas.' I think it's a bunch of baloney. If you know of a reference which establishes gravitas as a legitimate English word, I would appreciate your publishing it. Otherwise, it is definitely time someone exposed this myth."

Well, Mr. Dorwin, as syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell observed, before Mr. Cheney was picked as Mr. Bush's choice for vice president practically nobody used the word gravitas. Now, everybody and his brother is using it, the political spin being the president lacks gravitas, or weight, and Mr. Cheney supplies what Mr. Bush lacks.

Even Rush Limbaugh, the columnist noted, has had fun airing recordings of politicians and media people who repeat the word gravitas like parrots, day after day.

Finally, Inside the Beltway has just completed an exhaustive search of the word gravitas, particularly as it relates to Mr. Cheney. Weren't we surprised to discover that it was this newspaper's own political correspondent, Ralph Z. Hallow, who opined way back on Feb. 2, 1994:

"Dick Cheney, at 52, has that sedateness of manner some people call 'gravitas,' a certain reassuring seriousness and dignified authority you would demand from Central Casting if your were ordering up an actor to play the president of the United States."

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