- The Washington Times - Monday, August 26, 2002

Thick mints

An overweight man filed lawsuits against restaurants this summer because he ate too much and got fat.

Among the many outraged by the obese lawsuit is the Washington-based public interest group Consumer Freedom; its agenda is promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choice.

As a result, its inviting readers to use the online (https://consumerfreedom.com) "Lawsuit Fabricator," which suggests ways to get payoffs for whatever ailments you suffer.

Hoping to make a quick million or two, we were among the first to give the lawsuit generator a try.

"Whats your beef," it asks.

"Im too fat," came our reply.

We were then connected to the next category: "Who You Can Sue."

After studying the list of options, weve decided to file lawsuits against two parties that have definitely added pounds to our figure: "Ben & Jerry and their evil 'Chunky Monkey," and "cookie-wielding Girl Scouts."

Oh, and you dont have to be fat to sue. The lawsuit fabricator also provides hints for suing for those people who are in debt, those who are in jail, or those who are stupid.

Stacked souls

Arlington National Cemetery is losing ground.

The final resting place for the nations armed forces and similar heroes has a capacity of 243,373 gravesites - with about 32,312 available as of the end of March 2002.

Last month, a bill passed the House that awaits action in the Senate that would allow certain family members of eligible veterans to be buried in the same grave without need of a waiver.

Faced no Gore

Promoting a briefing in Washington tomorrow on the various challenges facing Vladimir Putin, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes that the popular Russian president "won a much bigger and unchallenged election victory than did George W. Bush."

It so happens that in the past decade, Russians have voted in five free elections. Still, the question remains whether Mr. Putin can lift Russia out of the trap of disorder without springing the trap of dictatorship. That question and others will be answered by tomorrows briefer, Richard Rose, director for the Study of Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

Frist in 2008

"Babes and Whales" is the title of a feature in the September issue of Washingtonian magazine, in which Capitol Hill staffers pick the best and worst of Congress - leaders, followers, dimwits, hotheads and more.

A few of our favorites on the Senate side (viewpoints expressed by Capitol Hill aides do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this columnist, his editors, this newspaper or its readers) include:

Showhorse: Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican

No Rocket Scientist: Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat

No Altar Boy: Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, New Jersey Democrat (followed closely by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and John B. Breaux of Louisiana, both Democrats)

Biggest Windbag: Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat

Hottest Temper: Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican

Meanest: Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican

Strongest Backbone: Sen. James M. Jeffords, Vermont independent

Weakest Spine: Sen. James M. Jeffords, Vermont independent

Just Plain Nice: Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican

Best Dressed: Sen. Gordon H. Smith, Oregon Republican

Fashion Victim: Sen. Paul Wellstone, Minnesota Democrat

Looks Best In Bathing Suit: Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat

Stay Off The Beach: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat

Preferable President In 2008: Sen. Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican

Appreciates America

We turn to our MetroDCSports newsletter to see that not all of the French are anti-American (just kidding).

A French marathon swimmer, Ben Lecomte, is planning to honor the victims of the September 11 attacks by swimming from Washington to New York City.

Mr. Lecomte, who lives in Texas with his American wife, will begin his swim from this city Sept. 11 and arrive in New York in early October, the newsletter says. He plans to do the swim solo, completing about 20 miles per day and stopping on the shore to rest and eat each night. He began planning the swim shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

"So many people did not have the ability to follow their dreams like I did. To die this way, I cannot accept that," he tells MetroDCSports. "Its also a way for me to say to the American people, 'Thank you for accepting me and allowing me to live my life here."

The swimmer will follow the Potomac River (this column recommends a typhoid shot) until it flows into the Chesapeake Bay and finally into the Atlantic Ocean. He hopes to swim six to eight hours each day.

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