- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2002

Shades of JFK
"We cannot ask what will happen if we act but, rather, what will happen if we don't."
Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican, in a speech yesterday on the Iraq resolution now being considered on the floor of the House of Representatives

All together now
"Here's an important announcement from the administrator," says our insider at the Environmental Protection Agency, forwarding an Oct. 8 staff memorandum that left bureaucrats in his office puzzled, if not laughing.
"Administrator Christie Whitman has proclaimed October 18, 2002, as National Water Monitoring Day to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. We are encouraging everyone to monitor the water."

Channel to God
The assistant Senate Republican leader, Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma, says he'll never forget the night he and soon-to-retire Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina prayed together to prevent a tax from being imposed on Americans.
Rising at a recent tribute to thank Mr. Helms for his 30 years of service to the Senate and the country, Mr. Nickles recalled the seemingly endless 1982 debate in Congress over a proposed gasoline tax. Most of those in the Senate were in favor of the 5-cent-per-gallon tax increase, including fellow Republicans like then-Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker of Tennessee.
"But we were sort of opposed to it, thinking that it should be left to the prerogative of the states," Mr. Nickles reminded Mr. Helms. "It was a difficult time because it was right before Christmas and [there was] a pretty protracted, extended debate, one that required [sleeping on] cots in the back. Our colleagues' tempers were kind of short because we were getting close to the holiday season. Most everybody wanted to vote and get out of here.
"And I remember going into your office one night," Mr. Nickles continued, "and it was kind of difficult and we talked about it. You said, 'Well, I have an idea. We'll just pray about it. Let's call Reverend Billy Graham.' I was awestruck. 'We're calling Reverend Billy Graham?'"
And so Mr. Helms picked up the phone and called Mr. Graham and together the renowned preacher and two senators prayed.
God, it turned out, was in favor of a gasoline tax. In fact, He wanted much more than a nickel increase for Earth's hydrocarbon mixture. So, amid members' growing impatience to go home for the Christmas holiday, the Senate late on the night of Dec. 21 agreed to a 9-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax, to be imposed from 1983 to 1988.

Sobering act
Look for fewer drunk people arriving in the United States, as the House Judiciary Committee yesterday passed the Sober Borders Act.
Introduced by Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, the Sober Borders Act would close a loophole that actually prevents Immigration and Naturalization Service officials from detaining drunk drivers coming into the country.
In 2000, a 20-year-old college student, returning from a night of hard drinking in Mexico, killed a California highway patrolman.
"It's not right that the agency charged with protecting our borders is powerless to stop drivers who are drunk," says Mr. Flake. "This is common-sense legislation that will save lives, and I hope Congress moves quickly to pass it."
Mr. Flake, who is serving his first term in Congress, expects the full House to take up the bill before it adjourns for the year.

Living history
Senators aren't kidding when they say the Senate won't be the same without Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican, who is set to retire this year but not before first turning 100.
Consider the sheer breadth of his experience, as observed by one fellow senator:
Born on Dec. 5, 1902, Mr. Thurmond served South Carolina as a state senator, circuit court judge, governor and U.S. senator. When the Army told him he was too old to fight in World War II, he obtained an age waiver and landed with the 82nd Airborne Division in Normandy on D-Day. He voted for Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932 and George W. Bush in 2000. He ran for president against Harry Truman in 1948 and sat in on Bill Clinton's impeachment trial in 1999.
The rest, as they say, is history. And with respect to Mr. Thurmond, lots of it.


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