- The Washington Times - Friday, July 11, 2003

Nobles: Shaka and Thandi, the principled, passionate pachyderms who put a pause in the president’s safari.

Mr. Bush’s well-planned tour through Botswana’s Mokolodi Nature Reserve earlier this week hit an unexpected snag when Shaka and his consort decided to go about the vital business of perpetuating the species right in front of the first family’s pickup.

Principled Republicans that they were, the elephants didn’t ask permission from the chief executive before engaging in their amorous activities, and they didn’t take the temperature of the press corps. They didn’t even poll the other species in the reserve. (One survey found that, to the question, “Are there too many, too few, or just about the right number of elephants in the park,” 83 percent of wildebeest said “too many,” 68 of lions said “too few” and 45 percent of zebras said “just about right.” The research, reportedly done by Drs. Doolittle and Doolittle, could not be verified.)

Although the president is used to touring at top speed, he took the R-rated interruption in stride. It was probably far worse for the pack of trailing reporters, accustomed to trumpeting their interpretations of the nature of the president’s every nuance.

It proved a mammoth lesson in humility for all the parties concerned. Despite the pre-trip planning by presidential handlers and network planners, the nation’s chief executive and the pedigreed journalists with him were still left completely at the mercy of an elephantine moment of passion. While the lesson may not have been as noble as that taught to King Canute by the waves (which washed over his throne despite his command for them to stop), it was an apt one nonetheless.

The ardent animals also answered the question of where baby Republicans come from. Mr. Bush didn’t comment on the matter, but witnessing the possible inception of another noble Republican probably upset him far less than it did the reporters behind.

Knaves: Randall Simon, the sausage smacker, who just scant weeks after Sammy Sosa uncorked a scandal, served up one of his own.

During the routine running of the sausages at a Milwaukee baseball game (Pamplona take that), the Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman took a swing at the costumed Italian sausage. He connected, sending the costume, and 19-year-old Mandy Block within, to the ground. A hot dog trailing just behind tripped up and also took a tumble.

Fortunately, Simon only hit the top of the sausage, and not the head of the 5-foot-3 Miss Block. Neither she nor her encased colleague were seriously hurt. That didn’t make it square in the eyes of the Milwaukee police, who rightly arrested Simon after the game.

He was charged with disorderly conduct after both he and the two sausages he burned agreed that he had meant no malice. Fined $432 and released, Simon apologized profusely. He even gave Miss Block and her companion souvenir bats.

While he may have meant to be more mischievous than malicious, his swings at mascots (even those in sausage outfits) is far closer to felonious than foul. There’s no excuse for it, and baseball officials should Iook into following Simon’s fine with additional penalties. Besides, Simon’s well-replayed swing is one of the wurst images baseball could hope to portray — possibly even worse than a primetime Detroit Tigers doubleheader.

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