- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Spy's solution
We had to laugh at Washington surveillance/countersurveillance guru James A. Ross, when he was discussing the new secure baggage-checking systems at our airports.
"I used to check my briefcase while traveling by air," said Mr. Ross. "Regularly, after recovering my baggage, I would notice that the lock combination on my briefcase had been switched to the 'open' sequence. I pondered what to do."
Remember, Mr. Ross is president of a firm that specializes in detecting and planting every imaginable bugging device and booby trap. A modern-day Maxwell Smart, if you will, sans the shoe phone.
"Should I put a camera in the case so I could secretly take a picture of the handler who opened it?" Mr. Ross plotted.
"Or should I just pump out a squirt of red paint into his face?"
"I finally gave up and did neither," he said. "I just carried the briefcase on board and stored it overhead."

Chad counting
Should Al Gore decide to run for president again in 2004, he'll need a new campaign manager.
Donna Brazile, Mr. Gore's outspoken presidential campaign manager in 2000, told us at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner she would consider it a privilege to work on the campaign of the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004.
Yet she had a one-word reply when asked if she intended to work for the former vice president again: "Never."
We won't soon forget Miss Brazile's closing statement once the dust of the 2000 presidential race settled, words that rang similar to former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's observation: "The people who vote decide nothing. The people who count the vote decide everything."
Or as Miss Brazile preferred: "Al Gore won the popular vote. I did my job. I did get that vote out. Unfortunately, I didn't get to count it."

Banking on Bush
The Washington-based Environmental Working Group, or EWG, touts itself as a not-for-profit environmental research organization dedicated to improving public health and protecting the environment by reducing pollution in air, water and food.
The EWG is funded almost exclusively by grants, including from Ted Turner's Turner Foundation. And what millions it doesn't get from Ted, the EWG apparently makes from peddling George W. Bush documents over the Internet.
Take this week, for example, where over EBay the EWG is auctioning "an original, highly collectible copy of 'Food and Agricultural Policy: Taking Stock for the New Century,' the landmark Bush Administration report issued in September 2001."
Which is too little, too late, says the EWG, when it comes to rural development, conservation and nutrition.
"The abandonment of all of these principles by the administration has made 'Taking Stock' a museum-quality work of hypocrisy," says the seller.
Current high bid: $5.76.

Cashing in
Speaking of cheap books, World magazine contributor Joel C. Rosenberg observes that Whitewater poster child Susan McDougal spent a year and a half in prison rather than answer questions from independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr.
The question now is whether Mrs. McDougal will tell us what she didn't tell the counsel. She received a last-day pardon from President Clinton, the target of Mr. Starr's probe, and is now writing her first book.
Mr. Rosenberg notes that Mrs. McDougal's book advance a five-figure deal is a far cry from Hillary Rodham Clinton's $8 million.

CNN makeover
That would be former high-profile CNN journalist Bobbie Battista, best known as host of "TalkBack Live," signing on with Georgia Republican Bob Irvin's U.S. Senate campaign against incumbent Democratic Sen. Max Cleland.
Miss Battista and fellow longtime CNN colleague David Bernknopf have left the network and are handling media and public relations for the campaign.
Meanwhile, we see that Frank Sesno, who stepped down as CNN's Washington bureau chief as the channel began a top-to-bottom makeover, has become a professor at George Mason University.
Still no word on where the always-informative CNN White House correspondent Major Garrett, who bid adieu to the network last week, will land.

Wrong Texan
Oops. It wasn't House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, but rather Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, who, prior to George W. Bush's arrival in Washington, declared: "It's hard to believe that someone can be Barbara Bush's son and still be a redneck."
It was just one of hundreds of memorable political quotations submitted by Inside the Beltway fans in our latest reader contest. Congratulations to contest winners Paul McVickar of O'Fallon, Ill., and Mike Daley of San Andreas, Calif., for submitting two of our favorite political one-liners, attributed to George Bernard Shaw and former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry.

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