- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2005

One-man show

Perhaps he’s a Democrat. Or maybe he’s just fed up with paying more than $2 for a gallon of gasoline.

Either way, observes the official White House pool report on one of President Bush’s more recent motorcades: “Few people were out watching the passing convoy, though we did spot one man at a gas station doing an emphatic thumbs-down.”

Senatorial courtesy

A memorable vignette in honor of the late Sen. J. James Exon, the three-term Nebraska Democrat who died Friday at the age of 83:

It was sometime in the mid-1990s and Mr. Exon was on the Senate floor offering an amendment to restore funding to some forgotten program in some forgotten spending bill. After arguing that opponents of his amendment were insulting the nuclear family, undermining national security and pretty much destroying the American way of life, he asked for a roll-call vote.

The roll call itself is a fascinating anthropological exercise, one part representative democracy and one part frat-house rush. The chamber’s mandarins roll in from their offices, committee rooms, late lunches and fundraisers to cast their vote, loudly greet colleagues, gossip and cut deals.

Mr. Exon, a big man even by Senate standards, corralled the late-arriving Sen. Hank Brown, a Republican from Colorado, by placing his large arm around Mr. Brown’s neck as the two exchanged jokes and fake punches to the midsection.

The two were getting on famously when the Senate clerk called out “Mr. Brown,” after which Mr. Brown disentangled himself from his great good friend and made a swift downward motion with his outstretched index finger, voting against the Exon amendment.

Wouldn’t you know, he returned to Mr. Exon, who put his arm back around his colleague. The two went on chatting as if nothing had happened.

Chicken variety

“I read in the Times of India that Bill Clinton is trying to be a vegetarian, but that this lovely man, who has struggled with his weight and his heart, is having trouble.”

Or so Ingrid E. Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, gives as her reason for writing a letter of encouragement to the former president.

“I have a fondness for Bill,” she admits, noting he’s not the first worldly figure to go through cheeseburger withdrawals.

“You are in good company. From Mahatma Gandhi to Albert Einstein, some of the world’s greatest historical figures and thinkers have chosen meat-free diets,” she tells Mr. Clinton.

And to help Bubba along the vegetable path, Miss Newkirk has shipped him a box of faux-chicken patties, a vegetarian starter kit and, last but not least, a video narrated by actor Alec Baldwin, who speaking of chickens says they are perhaps the most abused animals on the planet.

Next to God

J.J. Wuerthner Jr. read last week that animal-rights activists confronted members of Congress about lip pain experienced by fish that get hooked by anglers.

“Your piece on ‘Pierced Lips’ deserves the wry humor of President Hoover, found in [the] small book ‘Fishing for Fun and To Wash Your Soul,’ published by Random House in 1963,” he writes to Inside the Beltway.

“That presidents have taken to fishing in an astonishing fashion seems to me worthy of investigation,” Mr. Hoover noted. “Next to prayer, fishing is the most personal relationship of man; and of more importance, everyone concedes that the fish will not bite in the presence of the public, including newspapermen. … I have discovered the reason: it is a silent sport.’ ”

Easy chairs

Every year at this time, we look forward to the invitation to Frank Luntz’s annual Baseball All Star Party, if for no other reason than to see the latest addition to the political pollster’s home (called “the Smithsonian McLean Branch” because of its unique collection of history, politics and sports memorabilia).

Under the pollster’s expansive roof one finds everything from the most valuable newspaper collection in Washington, to the original Playboy magazine interview with Jimmy Carter, to rare tickets for every day of Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial.

Some of our favorite acquisitions unveiled last year included the original “Addams Family” electric chair (and you wonder why Mr. Luntz isn’t married?) and “The Terminator,” a life-size statue of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Who doesn’t want one of those in his or her living room?).

And what is Mr. Luntz parking in his house this year? No less than the chopper from the 1969 movie “Easy Rider,” starring Peter Fonda.


Marijuana has helped me a lot!

It’s a marvel, this medical “pot”!

My condition’s the same,

But I’m pleased to proclaim

I’ve forgotten what illness I’ve got!

F.R. Duplantier

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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