- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 16, 2003

A monumental gift

There could be a big, new home in store for the 5,280-pound, granite Ten Commandments monument that was removed from Alabama’s Supreme Court last month after a federal judge ruled it violated the First Amendment.

The Foundation for Moral Law announced yesterday that Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has agreed to offer the monument to Congress for display in the Capitol building.

Chief Justice Moore originally placed the sculpted work in the Alabama court building in August of 2001. Two months later, he was sued by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Southern Poverty Law Center who complained the monument was unconstitutional and “offensive.”

But the foundation has an alternative.

“According to the terms of the gift of the monument to the state of Alabama, title to the monument has reverted to the chief justice individually, clearing the way for such action through the Foundation for Moral Law,” the group said.

The monument “now sits in a closet behind locked doors.”

Should Congress accept the work, lawmakers would bring “God out of the closet,” said foundation Director Mel Glenn, “demonstrating to the American people that Congress, and not an unelected and ‘out of control’ federal judiciary, is the true guardian of liberty and our inalienable right to acknowledge God in the public square.”

A spokesman for Chief Justice Moore said the judge felt the monument suited the Capitol because “its thematic motif linking God and government is complementary to existing murals and other artwork in the building.”

More important, it would demonstrate that “Congress would restore the meaning and intent of the First Amendment and would reaffirm that divine principle upon which our country was founded.”

Washington evacuates

Hurricane Isabel is showing it takes a blast of foul weather to blow the hot air out of Washington.

Spurred by media caterwauling about the big squall, both the House and Senate were rushing business yesterday, hoping to finish the week’s work today and flee before Isabel strikes, grounding flights and trapping them far from home.

“I’ve had many questions about the storm,” Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid announced on the Senate floor yesterday, urging lawmakers to hurry through the spending bill.

“The storm … is going to strike about noon on Thursday, and if it keeps going the way it is, it will be a very devastating storm. We know that some people have obligations this weekend,” the Nevada Democrat said.

Isabel remained the hot topic on Capitol Hill. Some House aides expected tomorrow’s schedule to bite the dust.

Ever-vigilant House Majority Leader Tom DeLay told reporters yesterday, “The DeLay Doppler satellite is monitoring the situation, and we’ll have news for you later on.”

Out-Deaning Dean

Howard Dean, king of the Internet? Maybe not.

The former Vermont governor and Democratic presidential hopeful has been recently lauded for his prowess online, organizing his troops and providing endless dispatches from the campaign trail at his Web site.

But rival Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, has turned the online tables on Mr. Dean. Yesterday, Mr. Gephardt unveiled his own Dean-themed Web site, which deconstructs Mr. Dean’s opinions on Social Security and Medicare.

The site, DeanFacts.com, provides snippets of Dean-isms going back an entire decade, all based on material distributed to reporters Friday when Mr. Gephardt gave a speech in Iowa on the two topics.

“We really looked at Dean’s record, and made substantive material available to the press. But why shouldn’t the public have access as well?” asked Gephardt spokesman Erik Smith yesterday.

“So we have put it up on the new Web site. There’s no spin on this ball, it’s just the facts, to quote Sergeant Joe Friday,” Mr. Smith said.

A Fox coup

President Bush has granted an exclusive interview to Fox News’ Brit Hume, to air Monday from the Oval Office on the eve of the Mr. Bush’s address to the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.

According to Fox, Mr. Bush and Mr. Hume will discuss topics including U.S. efforts to obtain a new U.N. resolution on Iraq, the war on terror, the situation in the Middle East as well as domestic and international reaction to Mr. Bush’s policies.

The interview will air from 8 to 9 p.m. on the Fox broadcasting network (not Fox News).

The Clinton purse

Former President Bill Clinton is back in his natural habitat, which is the campaign trail, notes a Stuart News editorial yesterday. But the Florida paper does not buy Mr. Clinton’s claim that he “never had a nickel” until he was out of office.

“The Clintons’ final financial disclosure statement as they left the White House in January 2001 showed that they estimated their net worth at between $1 million and $5 million. And in the last year of his presidency, they accepted $190,027 in gifts. And on her way out of the White House, Hillary Rodham Clinton had in her purse an $8 million book deal. And the president’s $200,000-a-year salary was hardly minimum wage.”

“Of course, compared to what he’s making now, the White House must seem like comparative penury. In his first year as an ex-president, Bill Clinton earned $9.5 million making speeches. That’s a lot of nickels,” the News concluded.

Paper trail

Voting of a different sort begins today. President Bush and John Carlin, archivist of the United States, want Americans to vote for the 10 official documents that they think had the most impact on the nation.

Could it be the Constitution or the Missouri Compromise? The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the original patent for the electric light bulb or perhaps the old canceled check that purchased Alaska?

They are among 100 possibilities outlined in “The People’s Vote: 100 Documents That Shaped America,” a national challenge to inspire “a lively and thoughtful debate,” the U.S. Archives says. Write-in suggestions can also be made.

Anyone can cast their vote at the U.S. News & World Report Web site (www.usnews.com/vote), or at voting kiosks in the National Archives, the nation’s presidential libraries and regional archives.

The big winners will be announced Dec. 15 — Bill of Rights Day.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected]washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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