- The Washington Times - Monday, November 17, 2003

Delaying the reaper

Stuart Roy is lucky to be alive.

The communications director for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was driving to work Sunday over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge when a pitchfork came unfastened from a passing truck and sliced through his windshield.

“It was flying through the air in a straight line — coming straight at my head — fork first,” Mr. Roy tells Inside the Beltway. “I slammed on my brakes and shut my eyes, and then it smashed through the windshield. There was glass everywhere. I must have had my mouth open because I was spitting out glass.”

When he opened his eyes, Mr. Roy was shocked to find the pitchfork had come to a stop just above the steering wheel — its razor sharp forks barely missing his face. Police estimate that when the tool impaled the windshield it was traveling at 100 miles per hour.

“If it wasn’t for one tong going through one piece of metal it would have come all the way through my head,” says the Hill aide, who is keeping the pitchfork as a good-luck charm.

Counting his blessings yesterday, Mr. Roy says his wife had the best line of all: “You know, if you die by way of a pitchfork, it’s not a very good sign of which way you’re going.”

Can the humor

The last time Inside the Beltway visited a dry toilet was in advance of the first annual International Dry Toilet 2003 conference organized by the Global Sanitet Club of Finland, which attracted 168 registered participants from 30 countries.

Now, with former Vice President Al Gore leading by example, others are climbing aboard the waterless urinal.

“Forget the convenience and sanitation of the flush toilet that industrialized nations have enjoyed for most of the past century,” says Marc Morano, senior staff writer for CNSNews.com. “A growing number of environmentalists are now advocating the expanded use of compost or dry toilets worldwide to combat what they see as an international water crisis.”

Not privy to this sort of contraption, what exactly is a dry urinal?

“A waterless dry toilet, which generally costs about $2,000, collects human urine and feces and requires emptying by humans on a regular basis,” Mr. Morano says. “Advocates claim the resulting matter can then be composted and used as fertilizer for food crops.”

If that’s not tantalizing enough, Michael Janofsky revealed in yesterday’s New York Times that Mr. Gore, who has already made daily constitutionals more difficult for millions of Americans by introducing a mandatory 1.8-gallon “two-crank” toilet, has joined the advisory board of Falcon Waterfree Technologies’ marquee project — the waterless urinal.

A Tennessee landlord among other professions, Mr. Gore took great interest in dry commodes after his tenant, Tracy Mayberry, labeled him a “slumlord” because he didn’t immediately repair her overflowing toilets.

“Oh, if this is not every conservative’s and comic’s dream — combining the fertile fields of Al Gore and toilets,” reacts Christopher C. Horner, counsel to the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “And as the newest champion of the absurdly named ‘dry toilet,’ Gore proves that what you get when you combine the two is, well, dry humor.

“As yet another in a series of lessons that every bad ‘green idea’ is just their first step toward an even worse one, Gore informs us that he was just kidding that your toilet shouldn’t have much water in it. It really shouldn’t have any at all.”

Early scandals

The Eisenhower Institute’s next author series Dec. 8 will feature Walter Isaacson and his newly released “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.”

It should be an intriguing discussion, for besides exploring how one of America’s founders helped define society, the book chronicles Franklin’s tumultuous relationship with his illegitimate son and grandson, his practical marriage, and his flirtations with the ladies of Paris.

A former chairman and CEO of CNN and managing editor of Time magazine, Mr. Isaacson is president of the Aspen Institute. He previously penned “Kissinger: A Biography.”

Welcome back

When combative conservatives hush

And the brazenest liberals blush,

We know that the fun

Has already begun

And the nation is listening to Rush.

F.R. Duplantier

• John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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