- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2002

Romano's remark

"So what did Romano say?" wondered Jack Forrester of New York City, among readers who came across an editing error in yesterday's list of outrageous statements uttered at the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

Here's what Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission, said when pressed about the African Union's decision to nominate Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi to head the U.N. Human Rights Commission: "I am sure that he will do his duty."

Illogical conclusions

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for a few pointers before going before reporters yesterday at the Brookings Institution.

"You handle the press pretty well," Mr. Wolfowitz told his boss. "Is there anything I should keep in mind over at Brookings? There might be a few media types around, you know."

"Here's how you deal with the media," replied Mr. Rumsfeld. "Begin with an illogical premise and proceed perfectly logically to an illogical conclusion. After all, they do it all the time. But if you do it first, they'll be eviscerated."

"Eviscerated" is the now-famous word that passed the lips of one distinguished Pentagon Marine general who had the Taliban stomped a few weeks ahead of their time.

Renouncing citizenship

A newly introduced amendment is designed to attack a tax loophole that's allowed "scores" of U.S. corporations to move their headquarters on paper only to tax-haven countries to avoid paying their "fair share" of taxes.

Several companies, we learned on Capitol Hill yesterday, were awarded millions of dollars in federal contracts to provide homeland security.

"These corporations have turned their back on their country in their country's hour of need," says Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, who singled out:

•Ingersoll-Rand, founded in 1905 and headquartered in Woodcliff, N.J. Last December, three months after September 11, the company that produces everything from jackhammers and golf carts to security-control systems opened an office in Hamilton, Bermuda, to "avoid paying $40 million each year in U.S. taxes." Ironically, the corporation holds more than $40 million in government contracts, "virtually all of which are directly related to homeland defense or the military."

•Fruit of the Loom, headquartered for years in Bowling Green, Ky., moved "offshore" last year, taking with it "millions of dollars in contracts" from Uncle Sam.

•Cooper Industries, founded in 1833 in Mount Vernon, Ohio, makes tools and hardware needed to transmit natural gas. The company had revenues of $4 billion last year when it decided to move offshore.

Mr. Reid said hundreds of other companies similarly "abandoned" America, including Accenture, APW, Carnival Corp., Enron, Everest Reinsurance, Foster Wheeler, Global Crossing, Gold Reserve, Halliburton, Harken Oil, Helen of Troy, and Leucadia Corp.

Out of the blue

Sitting in the aisle seat of an airplane, Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat, was surprised when a man seated two rows ahead of him passed back his business card. It indicated he was a company president.

"I had never met the man, did not know him," says Mr. Dorgan.

Turning the card over, the senator saw that the man had scribbled a note: "Dear Senator Dorgan Good morning. I am president of a corporation. I work very hard and I am honest. I believe there are more like me than not."

When he got back to his office, Mr. Dorgan wrote the man a letter, agreeing that American business is by and large run by honest stewards. But he conceded that the emergence of corporate scandals has tarnished "all" in American business.

The senator promised the man that on behalf of "honest" business leaders like himself, he and other lawmakers would be "tough" with those who abuse their trust.

"We have a responsibility to see to it that they do more than two years of hard tennis at a minimum-security institution somewhere," Mr. Dorgan said.

Minnesota leap

Former Minnesota senator and Vice President Walter "Fritz" Mondale was back traversing Capitol Hill this week.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle noted that Mr. Mondale was a 19-year-old college student when he first met Minneapolis Mayor Hubert H. Humphrey (who, like Mr. Mondale, eventually became a senator and vice president).

Mr. Humphrey at the time was struggling to wrest control of the newly merged Democratic Farmer-Labor Party from ultra-leftists, and Mr. Mondale volunteered to help. What happened next should be a lesson to all to be careful what you volunteer for.

"I started dreaming that maybe I could get a seat on a county board or a city council," Mr. Mondale says, "and before I knew it I was in the White House."

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