- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Oh no, politics
What television watcher in this country hasn't seen Steve Irwin, the wild man Australian "Crocodile Hunter" who puts his face up to crocodiles and poisonous snakes?
Mr. Irwin was the guest of Laura Ingraham on her syndicated radio show last night (his feature film "The Crocodile Hunter" is out, he has an action doll, even did a World War II special for the Discovery Channel on his family's wartime service), and somehow politics crept in with the gators:
Miss Ingraham: I bet you're conservative politically, right?
Mr. Irwin: I am, mate, yes.
Miss Ingraham: That's the real reason I wanted you on.
Mr. Irwin: Oh no, not politics, mate, I was warned.
Miss Ingraham: You should come here and hang out at the White House with President Bush. Washington politics can be just as dangerous as the Australian wild.
Mr. Irwin: I would love to hang out with George. When he came to power and all this stuff was happening in the world, I became a huge George fan. And I reckon we could sit down and chew the fat and have a great yarn.

Chocolate and condoms
Talk about sexual abuse of the federal AIDS program.
Recently, the Bush administration audited several Centers for Disease Control and Prevention programs, including all those related to HIV and AIDS after reports of abuse and mismanagement of taxpayer money.
The CDC is also cracking down. The agency is dispatching a team of investigators to San Francisco's Stop AIDS Project, a program that received $700,000 in 2000 while putting on workshops such as "Booty Call."
Citizens Against Government Waste, meanwhile, the nation's largest taxpayer watchdog, is increasing publication of its 2002 report, "AIDS Programs: An Epidemic of Waste." And what an epidemic it is.
A $20,000 grant was handed to the Vermont Department of Public Health for a Twin State Women's Network weekend retreat, its topics including "Toys 4 Us." Each participant received a welcome bag filled with mints and chocolate, and each room was equipped with welcome packets containing condoms, candles, massage lotion and other items. The network receives 86 percent of its funds from Uncle Sam, including the CDC.
Positive Force in San Francisco receives $1 million a year from the CDC. The group offers flirting classes.
A Central Florida AIDS Unified Resources staffer spent $600,000 in Ryan White CARE Act money on everything from tickets to Disney World, to hotels and restaurants.
The nonprofit Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan, which receives $450,000 a year from the federal government to provide housing to people with AIDS, gives its top executives four season tickets for Tampa Bay Buccaneers games and two season tickets for both the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Last year, New York City spent nearly $180,000 a week ($9 million a year) on hotel rooms for HIV and AIDS patients. The city reserved 20 rooms at the Sofitel Hotel in Midtown Manhattan at $329 apiece.
An FBI investigation into the South Dallas Health Clinic revealed that more than $60,000 in taxpayer dollars was spent on calls to psychic hot lines and shopping trips to Neiman Marcus.

Boring Republicans
It sounds as if Terry McAuliffe, the wealthy political guru handpicked by Bill Clinton to head the Democratic National Committee, is carrying on the "party" without the former president.
We turn to NewsMax.com to read that a "tipsy-sounding" DNC chairman was interviewed by a top New York radio station Friday night while traveling aboard a Las Vegas "party bus" outfitted with two wet bars, wall-to-wall leather couches and mirrors on the ceiling.
"Let me just say, there have been some wild things that have occurred in this bus this day," Mr. McAuliffe revealed to WABC Radio's John Batchelor and Paul Alexander. "We have beers and everything."
"You should be here in Vegas," Mr. McAuliffe added. "This is as good as it gets out here. We're in Jennifer Palmieri's I don't know what you call this thing," he said referring to the DNC spokeswoman.
"Oh my God!" Ms. Palmieri could be heard gasping in the background as Mr. McAuliffe rambled on.
"I'll tell you this, these guys didn't do this at the RNC meeting," Mr. McAuliffe said of the Republican National Committee, before breaking into a goofy guffaw.

Minted memories
Congress has directed the Treasury Department to mint several new commemorative coins to remember the September 11 terrorist attacks: $50 gold coins, $1 silver coins and 50-cent coins.
And Uncle Sam is seeing to it that the next of kin of every victim of September 11 will receive a $50 gold coin free of charge.
The coins bear an image of the Pentagon and U.S. flag on one side, and the World Trade Center towers on the other and will be available for one year.
John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or e-mail [email protected]

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