- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Old environmentalism

Robert Redford's fascination with politics didn't go unnoticed during a tribute to the actor at the 74th Academy Awards on Sunday night.

In fact, Mr. Redford might have given the most incredible performance of his career when narrating radio ads last week for the Natural Resources Defense Council, claiming that higher government fuel-economy standards means "safer" cars.

"For the NRDC and Mr. Redford to claim that more stringent fuel-economy standards would increase vehicle safety is absolutely ridiculous," says Sam Kazman, the nonpartisan Competitive Enterprise Institute's (CEI) general counsel and fuel-economy expert.

The ad campaign aired during last week's Senate debate over whether to raise fuel-economy standards. The CEI countered with a full-page ad in the Orem Times, the closest newspaper to Mr. Redford's Utah ranch.

If that's not enough of Mr. Redford for one week, Washington bureaucrats at the Department of Energy were not only treated to a special screening of the PBS film "In the Light of Reverence," they were lured to last week's matinee with this quote from Mr. Redford: "This beautifully crafted film is a wake-up call for everyone who cares about the environment and human rights."

Says one Energy official who sent us Uncle Sam's movie flyer: "Hard to believe that it is the Bush Department of Energy that is showing its employees a PBS film and touting it with a quote from left-wing shill Robert Redford. One wonders how the film's sponsor, DOE's Office of Public Accountability, will account to the public for the use of taxpayer resources and federal employees' time for such a purpose."

New environmentalism

Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton's "new environmentalism" vision is based on the Four C's: Communication, Consultation and Cooperation, all in the service of Conservation.

"At the heart of the Four C's is the belief that for conservation to be successful, we must involve the people who live on, work on, and yes, love the land," the secretary explains.

But will the bureaucracy buy it?

"I was delighted the other day to see that my Four C's have begun to resonate throughout Interior," Mrs. Norton says, holding up a park management statement for the planned Rosie the Riveter/World War II Homefront National Historical Park, a site owned by the city of Richmond, Calif. To her surprise, written into the statement is her own Four C's.

"When the bureaucracy starts to accept new environmentalism," she reacts, "then this administration is beginning to make a difference."

Greetings from Beaufort

Washington political observer Marc Beauchamp is spending his spring break in Beaufort, S.C.

"Yesterday, I took a horse-drawn carriage through the charming historic neighborhood that moviegoers will recognize from 'The Big Chill,' 'The Great Santini' and 'Prince of Tides,'" he writes. "During the filming of the latter, Barbra Streisand apparently didn't endear herself to the locals.

"She rented one of the historic homes and promptly erected a 10-foot-high black fence, to deter the curious. Then, according to my carriage driver, around [6 a.m.] one morning she was awakened by the sounds of jets flying overhead from the nearby Marine air station (this being during the Gulf War).

"According to my guide … Streisand then complained by phone to the local commanding officer and told him she didn't want it to happen again. He reportedly responded, 'I'll see what I can do about it.' The next morning the jets roared over at 5 a.m."

Aging Democrats

The Democratic National Committee's new super-donor, television mogul Haim Saban, says his motivation for making the largest political gift in history to help fund the DNC's new headquarters came from DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

Mr. McAuliffe urged on Mr. Saban after lamenting that "Republicans' small-donor list is 40 times larger than the Democrats' and the average age of Republican small donors is 48, while the Democrats' average age is 68."

To which David Kralik, of Americans for Tax Reform, remarks: "And Terry only proves his own point by accepting a $7 million check from a 56-year-old guy. Do you think maybe they have a problem attracting smaller contributions from younger people?"

Foreign loot

Familiar faces of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln won't adorn all the new currency set to roll out of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

That's because Uncle Sam's official moneymaker was given the go-ahead by Congress to produce currency, postage stamps, and other security documents for foreign governments (taxpayers will be reimbursed for the full cost of the production).

The idea is twofold: to provide foreign governments with cutting-edge, anti-counterfeiting, stable currency systems, while helping facilitate international commerce.

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