- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Talkative guy

The Rev. Al Sharpton in the latest issue of Esquire:

“Once, I was going to meet John Kerry, and I called Bill Clinton for advice. He talked to me all the way from the airport to a restaurant and all the way though lunch and back in the car, a good 50 minutes. Just before I went in to see Kerry, I said goodbye — and when I got inside, Kerry was on the phone with Clinton.”

Court star

The Supreme Court’s solemn atmosphere was broken yesterday as usually subdued workers snapped to attention, riveted by a guest in the cafeteria.

What legal giant could create such a scene? None — it was former basketball star Charles Barkley, who stopped by to visit an old friend, Justice Clarence Thomas.

Mr. Barkley patiently posed for pictures and signed autographs for giddy court employees, the Associated Press reports.

The notoriously outspoken Mr. Barkley, considered a possible candidate for Alabama governor someday, was polite and politicianlike.

The nearly 6-foot-5 former forward — who played for Philadelphia, Phoenix and Houston before retiring in 1999 — was sprawled at a table just a few feet from the cafeteria checkout for a half-hour or so while word spread through the Supreme Court building and the crowd of admirers grew. He accommodated his fans before heading upstairs to Justice Thomas’ office.

Departing lobbyist

David Hobbs, top Capitol Hill lobbyist for the White House, has decided to step down from his job after two years, Roll Call reports.

Mr. Hobbs has headed the White House legislative-affairs office since December 2002. He has made no decision about his next job, though interest in the Washington business community is expected to be high.

Despite a personal appeal from President Bush to stay on, Mr. Hobbs said he decided it was time to spend more time with his wife, Gretchen, and their 9-month-old son rather than face the grueling pace of the White House.

“I love the president, I love my job, I love working with members of Congress, but family — my wife and new baby — require I make this difficult decision,” Mr. Hobbs said.

Mr. Hobbs first came to Capitol Hill as a University of Texas student in 1978. In 1992, Mr. Hobbs unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Pete Geren, Texas Democrat, for a seat in Congress.

The second head of Mr. Bush’s legislative-affairs office, Mr. Hobbs replaced Nick Calio, who held the post in 2001 and 2002.

Vermont nude

A group preparing to celebrate the life of a Vermont-born sculptor is petitioning Gov. Jim Douglas to leave a replica of Hiram Powers’ most famous work — which portrays a nude chained woman — on his Statehouse desk.

The petitioners, who include the wife of Sen. James M. Jeffords, say “the Greek Slave” is one of the most important pieces of art ever created by a Vermont native.

The governor wants the lamp that incorporates the replica removed from his office desk during the upcoming legislative session, the Associated Press reports. Douglas spokesman Jason Gibbs said last week the governor was concerned the statue could be broken, but he also said there was concern that schoolchildren would see the nude.

Mr. Gibbs said Monday the lamp would remain on display at the Statehouse while the legislature is in session, but not on the governor’s desk.

“This wonderful piece of art will continue to enjoy public prominence on display at the Statehouse,” Mr. Gibbs said. The home of the statue during the session will be determined by the Statehouse curator, he added.

Mr. Powers sculpted six versions of “the Greek Slave” between the early 1840s and the late 1860s. The work became a symbol of the abolitionist movement before the Civil War.

Overhyped story

“What was the most overhyped story of the year, politically?” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg asks.

“Was it the Democratic convention with all those generals on stage in Boston? Or the impact of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ on the election? Or high gas prices?

“I’m casting my vote for the hype surrounding [Sen. John] Kerry’s VP pick,” Mr. Rothenberg wrote in Roll Call.

“Yes, if the Massachusetts senator had convinced Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to be his running mate, all of the attention to the selection would have been legitimate (and the selection itself would have been a big deal). But as things turned out, the choice of Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) wasn’t very consequential at all. Kerry wasn’t going to win the White House because of his running mate, and he didn’t lose it because of Edwards. Remember that four years from now, when the same people who hyped the importance of Kerry’s VP pick do so again.”

Saving the world

A former member of Greenpeace who became disillusioned with what he saw as bad eco-science urged a U.N. climate-change conference to “save the world” by ignoring global warming, CNSNews.com reporter Marc Morano writes from Buenos Aires.

“Climate change is a huge thing, but there is very little that we can do about it,” Bjorn Lomborg told Mr. Morano after a speech in Buenos Aires on Monday.

Mr. Lomborg, author of the new book “Global Crisis, Global Solutions,” also wrote “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” a book devoted to debunking many of the alarmist claims of environmental groups. He is attending the United Nations’ Conference of Parties, or COP-10, meeting on climate change.

In an essay published Monday in the London Telegraph, Mr. Lomborg wrote that “global warming has become the obsession of our time.” He said humanity would be better off focusing on problems such as AIDS, poverty and inadequate sanitation.

Zell joins Fox

The Fox News Channel has signed Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat, as a contributor beginning in January.

“I am excited to be joining Fox News Channel and am eager to contribute to the continuing success of the network,” Mr. Miller said.

Mr. Miller served two terms as governor of Georgia before becoming a U.S. senator. He did not run for re-election this year. Mr. Miller, a conservative, outraged his fellow Democrats by giving the keynote address at the Republican National Convention in August.

Conservative = bad

“When it comes to ideological labeling, the media standard is to presume that the bad guys are the conservatives or the ones on the right,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

“How else to explain ‘hard right’ and ‘conservative’ communists when communism is on the far left? NPR delivered another example on Monday when reporter Ivan Watson repeatedly asserted on ‘Morning Edition’ that in Iran, though fundamentalist Islamism is on the left, not right, it is the ‘conservatives’ who obstruct reform of that nation’s theocratic, dictatorial status quo.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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