- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Hot words from Helen

Helen Thomas, who was a White House correspondent for United Press International for many years, calls George W. Bush "the worst president in all of American history."

"This is the worst president ever," Mrs. Thomas told the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif. "He is the worst president in all of American history."

And she "wasn't joking," the Daily Breeze reported. Mrs. Thomas, who became a columnist for Hearst newspapers when she retired from UPI, was in Los Angeles to speak to a dinner of the Society of Professional Journalists and offered a critique of presidents she has known. She praised John F. Kennedy, who she said "made Americans look to their higher angels."

"Then came Johnson's Great Society and Vietnam. Nixon, she said, was a man who would when presented two roads 'always choose the wrong one.' He was followed by 'healing' Ford, well-meaning Carter, Reagan's revolution, Bush Sr.'s self-destruction and Clinton's damaging of the presidential myth."

George W. Bush, she said, plays to fears after September 11. Mrs. Thomas has often criticized the president in her column for his support of Israel.

Hollywood agent

The Democratic National Committee has been busy recruiting volunteers for the inauguration of the "only true president" Josiah Bartlet of TV's "The West Wing."

"A friend of mine at the DNC is trying to get some extras organized for the filming of the inauguration for the only true president, Josiah Bartlet, for the TV show 'West Wing,' " said Kathryn Seck, deputy communications director for the Campaign for America's Wilderness, in an e-mail sent in recent days.

"I know it is short notice and would require taking time off work, but the DNC came up short of the target number of extras they were trying to recruit," she explained. "The filming will start at 2 p.m. Monday, January 27th in Baltimore, Md. Dress is black tie. You will get paid $100 and food will be provided. Please let me know ASAP if you or your friends are interested. Only Democrats allowed."

Reached yesterday, Ms. Seck confirmed she was behind the casting call, which we obtained from an unqualified actor, a Republican.

Terrorist havens

The 15 Saudi hijackers of September 11 were first "dissidents" and then "terrorists," says Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar, who has scolded the United States and the West for providing political refuge to "bad people" otherwise being sought by Saudi intelligence.

Prince Bandar's remarks came during a question-and-answer session with the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, when he was asked: "How would you feel if 15 or 19 Americans would go to Saudi Arabia and cause the damage that was caused on September 11 by Saudi citizens to the United States?"

According to Kevin McCauley, of O'Dwyer's PR Daily (odwyerpr.com), the ambassador responded that the entire story surrounding September 11 is "not out yet." He said prior to September 11 "bad people" being chased by Saudi intelligence finding no refuge in Iran, Libya or Syria fled to the West.

"They always go to London, Berlin, Paris, sometimes here," he said. "And when we report to our counterparts, 'Look, these are bad people. Will you please help us with them?' we are told they are dissidents and that if we only give them the right to speak, they would not have problems."

"When they spoke, it was ugly," said Prince Bandar. "And the result of their thinking and speaking is what you saw on 9/11."

In the future, said the ambassador, the West "must be firm" with dissident evildoers "so we can prevent their next move."

All that matters

Turf battles being waged between three Capitol Hill publications Roll Call, the Hill, and Congressional Quarterly are intensifying, with the latter now launching CQ Today and a redesigned CQ.com Web site.

"The battle between the Hill and Roll Call is like a barroom brawl, with fists flying and bottles crashing against the far mirror," says CQ publisher Robert Merry. "But in the end, CQ will get the girl and slip out the side door."

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