- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Road trips

Republicans are urging passage of President Bush’s stalled energy bill as one way to remedy rapidly rising oil prices. Democrats are calling on Mr. Bush to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a means of stabilizing the cost of gasoline.

As for Clark Griswold?

Based on the rapid rise in fuel prices in recent months, were the Griswold family, from National Lampoon’s “Vacation” movies, to go on holiday at Wallyworld this summer, they’d pay an extra $130 for gasoline compared with last summer’s prices.

“And that’s not even accounting for extra gasoline consumed by the surplus baggage of a dead aunt strapped to the roof of the car,” says Sarah Leonard of America Coming Together, an organization, for once, not authorized by any political candidate.

Apart from the Griswolds, a family in Portland, Ore., driving to Walt Disney World in Florida this summer will pay $631 in fuel costs — up $159 from one year ago; a family in Columbus, Ohio driving to the Grand Canyon in Arizona will pay $397 for gas, a jump of $99; and a family in Pittsburgh traveling to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming will pay $404, a $106 increase over 2003.

And if Congress doesn’t act fast, Mr. Bush could be paying an extra $53 for a one-way drive home to Crawford, Texas.

Perilous times’

More tyranny in Alabama, where thou shalt not wear faith-based lapel pins.

Ask Christopher Word, who has been fired as membership director of the Hoover Chamber of Commerce for wearing a Ten Commandments pin.

One person who knows how Mr. Word feels is former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S. Moore, who was stripped of his robe for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the court’s lobby.

“The Hoover Chamber of Commerce should be embarrassed and ashamed to force a young man like Christopher Word to chose between his faith and his job,” says the former judge. “This demonstrates the perilous times in which we live.”

Going buggy

“Why all the foreign television coverage?” we inquired of Vivian Deuschl, Ritz-Carlton’s international spokeswoman, after observing film crews from as far away as Japan setting up tripods outside the Georgetown Ritz-Carlton.

“Cicadas,” she says.

Are you kidding?

“The entire world seems to be intrigued by the Washington invasion of the bugs,” Mrs. Deuschl says of the 17-year Brood X cicada, which is displaying its noisy manners from the White House to Capitol Hill.

To acknowledge — with humor — the arrival of the pesky critters (and draw TV crews), the Georgetown Ritz-Carlton is serving guests handmade chocolates imprinted with images of red-eyed cicadas. And for those who prefer sipping their cicadas, hotel bartender Michael Brown mixes a colorful and tasty “Cicada Cocktail.”

We have it on good authority that the world-famous Ritz-Carlton looked into serving genuine cicadas as hors d’oeuvres and garnishes, but couldn’t locate a licensed distributor of the rare breed of bug.

Victim restitution

Fed up with seeing victims of crime sometimes treated worse than perpetrators in court, Republican Reps. Steve Chabot of Ohio, John Shadegg of Arizona and Kevin Brady of Texas have introduced a crime victims’ rights bill.

It would: 1) allow crime victims to confront the accused in court and at sentencing or parole hearings; 2) require that victims be notified of the release or escape of a perpetrator from custody; 3) require that the victims’ safety be considered in determining a release from custody; and 4) guarantee victims the right to seek restitution from their attackers.

Wyoming ‘quality’

Vice President Dick Cheney paid his first visit yesterday to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., where he delivered the 123rd commencement address.

The vice president observed that the institution carefully selects each incoming class from a pool of America’s finest apprentice seamen. Thus, he was interested to learn that one of this nation’s future Coast Guard officers hailed, as he does, from Wyoming.

“I found out there’s only one — a rising junior from Ranchester, Wyoming,” said Mr. Cheney, who joked, “I would have expected more, considering the breadth of Wyoming’s coastline.

“But I’ll remind this future Coast Guard officer of the motto that I had when I was Wyoming’s sole member of the House of Representatives: It may be a small delegation, but it is quality.”

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

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