Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Mind your tongue

Vice President Dick Cheney was joined by supportive community leaders for a cup of coffee and conversation this week at the Grill in Charleston, W.Va., within earshot — or so Mr. Cheney cautioned the West Virginians — of the national press.

“[T]he press are with us, of course,” the vice president observed. “But we don’t hold that against them. But you just need to know whatever you say is going to be broadcasted or recorded, so I like to warn people when they’re on the record.

“It’s a cautionary note that some of my colleagues in the Congress and government often forget at their peril.”

Maine point

Spotted by Inside the Beltway reader Terence McManus at the annual fair in Farmington, Maine, a T-shirt with a first-line caption of “Kerry for President” — followed by the second line — “of France.”

Comeback kid

Mike Inganamort tells this column that he and several other students at American University are behind a new Web site — — and petition drive critical of former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who, despite a tarnished reputation and criminal record last month won the Democratic primary for city council.

“We feel that Marion Barry is a disgrace to Washington, D.C. — and even to American politics,” Mr. Inganamort says. “The voters in D.C. don’t seem to care, but it’s our nation’s capital, too.”

Late word

We incorrectly observed yesterday that Willa Untiedt, a widowed grandmother who lives in Northern Virginia, was the daughter of “the late” John Kelso, Washington correspondent for the old Boston Post newspaper.

“My husband is deceased, my father is not,” Mrs. Untiedt says. “He is 90 years old, and still an avid reader of yours, so heaven help you.”

Mrs. Untiedt says her dad takes daily walks and reads three newspapers, front to back, every day.

Pepe LePew

Gary Bastian, a former four-term alderman in upstate New York, is urging his fellow homosexual Republicans to “hold their noses and vote for Bush” on Nov. 2 because the Kerry-Edwards ticket has failed to demonstrate that it deserves the support of an estimated 4 million homosexual voters.

“I get tired of politically correct, gay Democrats,” Mr. Bastian says. “Let’s face it: John Kerry and his running mate John Edwards rarely mention lesbian and gay issues on the campaign trail. The only reason most gay voters support Kerry is because he is not [George W.] Bush.”

Hot Republicans

For its November “Women We Love” issue, Esquire polled 3,414 readers — whose eyes for the ladies tend to favor the GOP.

In the category “Hottest wife of a presidential or vice-presidential candidate,” the winner was first lady Laura Bush (47 percent), with 30 percent choosing Teresa Heinz Kerry, 20 percent picking Elizabeth Edwards and 3 percent choosing Lynne V. Cheney.

And since John Kerry’s campaign has declared the children of candidates “fair game,” Inside the Beltway can report that Esquire readers judged the Massachusetts Democrat’s daughters less attractive than President Bush’s girls.

For “Hottest daughter of a presidential candidate,” the magazine’s top honors went to Jenna Bush (38 percent), with Barbara Bush and Alexandra Kerry tied for second at 24 percent, and Vanessa Kerry at 13 percent.

Better half

Laura Bush received a batch of letters from kindergarten students whose teacher asked them to recite what they think are the responsibilities of the first lady.

A little girl named Shelby replied: “Help the president with his paperwork and then help him clean his office. Take care of him when he’s sick and put cold cloths on his head.”

While Megan observed: “Feed the dogs and plant the daffodils and do the president’s speeches when he isn’t feeling well.”

As for Todd, who obviously has an eye for fashion, he stated: “Wear pretty suits and shovel the snow and feed the birds.”

• Fans of this column will enjoy John McCaslin’s new book, “Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans From Around the Nation’s Capital.” Mr. McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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