- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 1, 2002

Government efficiency

Apparently there's no compelling need after all for heated leather power seats, a 10-disc CD player with six Infinity speakers and leather and wood tilt steering wheel "with remote stereo controls" to help fight the U.S. war on drugs in Colombia.

Moving with lightning speed, hours after Inside the Beltway reported it had "urgently required" the luxurious extras on a new 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee bound for Bogota, the State Department yesterday thought twice and immediately canceled the purchase of the vehicle by the department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

Case in point

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was in the middle of answering a series of questions about prescription drugs and what he sees as Republican attempts to dismantle the Medicare system when this question was posed:

"Senator, what is your view of the dilemma that Mayor [Anthony A.] Williams of the District of Columbia is having in getting enough signatures to get a petition for re-election? You know the travail he's gone through, the muddle that he's in now. Does this show that there is concern about his ability to govern? I know others of your [Democratic] colleagues I've talked to off the record are very embarrassed and chagrined by it. What do you feel about it?"

Replied Mr. Daschle: "I think Mayor Williams needs prescription drugs."

Gooder pastures

It's attention that Georgia Republican Rep. Bob Barr was after, and he's received it for "gooder" or worse.

Facing fellow Republican Rep. John Linder in a battle for Georgia's newly redrawn 7th Congressional District, Mr. Barr used a TV campaign commercial that depicts two ranchers standing in a green pasture. They discuss the fact that Georgia Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes "messed" everything up by pitting two Republicans against each other for the same seat.

One rancher concludes: "Linder's good, too. But Barr's just gooder."

Reaction in the District?

Georgia political insider Bill Shipp quotes University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock as saying the use of the word "gooder" will no doubt stick in people's minds. Which for Mr. Barr might not be such a good thing.

"The grammatical faux pas, complete with an accent not heard since the days of 'Hee Haw' will certainly catch the attention of viewers," observes columnist Matt Towery. "I'm afraid the Barr campaign may have failed to realize that suburban Republican primary voters often vote for the candidate who projects the image that the voters have of themselves. The voters in the new 7th are high-income and well educated. They might not appreciate the 'just gooder' image."

Horse sense

"It reminds me of a story here in southwest Virginia about a horse thief. And the jury goes through the whole case and they say, 'Not guilty, but you have to return the horse.' And he's not guilty, but you have to pay for those gifts."

Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, after the Senate Select Committee on Ethics severely admonished Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, New Jersey Democrat, for violating gift rules by receiving cash and other favors from David Chang, a former campaign supporter and convicted felon.

Impressive stock

For several years now, Inside the Beltway has published thought-provoking political limericks penned by "F.R. Duplantier." Readers, at the same time, often inquired of the limerist's background some long suspecting this columnist was behind the verse beneath the nom de plume "Duplantier."

Oh, to be so talented.

"Both my parents were journalists in New Orleans," Mr. Duplantier reveals. "My dad wrote for the States-Item; my mother was a photographer and feature writer for Dixie Roto, the old color supplement to the Times-Picayune. They were both Marines, too, my father serving with the occupation troops in Japan and my mother stationed in Honolulu during World War II.

"My wife, Evann, is a free-lance graphic artist and home-schooling mother of six. She's also the product of two press people. Her mother, who studied journalism under my father, was for many years director of university relations at Loyola New Orleans; her dad was a documentary film photographer for WWL-TV, the CBS affiliate in New Orleans. Our kids also have excellent art and writing skills, so it looks like we're establishing a communications dynasty."

As for the limerist himself, from 1995 to 2001 the modest Mr. Duplantier penned and produced "Behind The Headlines," a nationally-syndicated radio and newspaper commentary. Prior to that, he edited a news magazine, and way back in 1984 published his first collection of cartoons, titled "Only in New Orleans."

Then, in 2000, the presses pumped out "Politickles: Limericks Lampooning the Lunatic Left," many of which, we're proud to say, originally appeared in this column. (Mr. Duplantier's Web site, www.politickles.com, has a link for purchasing the book, plus archives and curiosities of various kinds.)

Finally, it's worth noting that we published yesterday's latest limerick about the just-dethroned Rep. James A. Traficant directly beneath an item on Congress conferring honorary citizenship of the United States on the Marquis de Lafayette, the French general who fought bravely alongside American colonists during the Revolutionary War.

"Funny you should include my limerick right after an item on Lafayette," Mr. Duplantier told us. "My ancestor, Armand Allard Duplantier, came to America as an aide to the marquis and served as a captain in the Continental Army under his command."

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