- The Washington Times - Monday, October 13, 2003

Grab your swords

Yes, Uncle Sam still observes Columbus Day — or else tens of thousands of Washington’s bureaucrats wouldn’t be home lying in their hammocks today.

But let’s answer the politically incorrect question once and for all: Who discovered America?

We call upon our leader, President George W. Bush, for the truthful answer.

“I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities and programs,” says Mr. Bush, “to honor our rich Nordic-American heritage.”

Nordic, you say?

“Traveling across the Atlantic as the first Nordic to lead an expedition to North America, Leif Ericson showed great courage in the face of danger,” Mr. Bush says. “His actions marked the beginning of a long-standing exchange of people, ideas and innovations between North America and the Nordic nations of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

“As the United States celebrates Leif Ericson Day, we honor his historic voyage.”

Before you roll out of your hammocks and rip the chapters from your history books, Mr. Bush proclaimed Oct. 9 — not today — as “Leif Ericson Day.”

That allows everybody this side of Minnesota who missed this year’s ceremonies ample time to plan for next year’s celebration. As a nation, we’re overdue.

To honor Ericson’s discovery of North America, Congress — by joint resolution approved on Sept. 2, 1964 — authorized the president to proclaim Oct. 9 of every year as Leif Ericson Day.

Balanced left

Comedian turned political activist Al Franken has joined forces with the Democratic National Committee to put cash in his own pocket while making the Democrats some money, too.

“Al Franken will be autographing a limited number of copies” of his new book, the DNC announces of Mr. Franken’s misleading book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.”

“Fill out the form below to reserve your copy today with a $75 donation to the Democratic National Committee,” the DNC says.

Rubin rises

Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin is the new vice chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington think tank charged with increasing America’s understanding of the world and foreign policy.

Most notably, the council publishes Foreign Affairs, considered the leading journal on global issues.

Mr. Rubin, who departed the Clinton White House in 1999, serves as chairman of the board of the Local Initiatives Support Corp., a leading community development group, as well as on the board of the Ford Motor Co.

We’re awaiting his Random House book due for release next month, “In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices From Wall Street to Washington.”

Jackson winners

We’ve learned this year’s Jackson Awards dinner, named for the late Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, will honor Reps. James H. Saxton, New Jersey Republican, and Jane Harman, California Democrat, for leadership in the fight against terrorism.

Mr. Saxton is chairman of the Armed Services subcommittee on terrorism, unconventional threats and capabilities. Mrs. Harman is ranking member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the new Select Committee on Homeland Security.

The Oct. 27 dinner marks the 21st year of the Jackson Awards, sponsored by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

Starring Laura

“Barbra Streisand will not be performing” — or so the invitation reads to the Washington home of Rick Rickertsen to celebrate conservative commentator Laura Ingraham’s new best seller, “Shut Up & Sing.”

However, there will be valet parking.

Stocking stuffer

He’s not really the president, he just sometimes pretends to be.

And that’s reason enough for talkingpresidents.com to create the first-ever talking Donald H. Rumsfeld doll.

The “Talking Rummy” doll speaks 26 sound bites, and sports a realistic face, right down to its stylish eyeglasses.

Here’s a sample of what Rummy says:

• “I’m working my way over to figuring out how I won’t answer that.”

• “You just don’t like one-word answers.”

• “The statement made is sound as a rock — I didn’t say Iraq.”

Rummy will begin shipping in November.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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