- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2005


European reporters flocking to France were all ears when former “James Bond” actor Pierce Brosnan, attending the Deauville Festival of American Cinema, blasted the Bush administration’s “shameful” response to Hurricane Katrina.

“This man called President Bush has a lot to answer for,” declared the former “007” actor. “I don’t know if this man is really taking care of America.”

That’s his opinion, of course. Yet not all overseas newspapers are rushing to judgment. Take yesterday’s edition of The Times of London.

“So there it is, the underbelly of America — exposed,” writes Alice Miles. “For Americaphobes, the events of the past 10 days have proved something of a feast. The subtext, and often the main text, of much of the reportage from New Orleans has been what a nasty, divided, unjust place the U.S. has been revealed to be. Nature has overturned its smug certainties and left it reeling.

“And it strikes me that there is more than a little smugness in the reporting as well. British journalism reveling in racial division [on] the other side of the Atlantic rarely seems to trouble itself to look at the ethnic splits this side of the pond.”

Cajun run

Louisiana native James Carville and his wife, former Bush White House appointee Mary Matalin, along with Pacers, a running-shoe retailer, are sponsoring the “Gulf Coast Relief 5K Run/Walk” in Old Town Alexandria on Sept. 17 to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.

All fees for the race (starting time 9 a.m.) will be donated to the Red Cross Hurricane Relief Fund. Family members of Mr. Carville suffered serious losses in the storm.

A new low

Americans are obviously split when it comes to rating the on-the-job performance of George W. Bush. The president, himself, acknowledges as much.

But if there ever came a time when one stooped too low, it is now.

Demgurl” is the online pseudonym of a popular veteran contributor to the partisan Web site DemocraticUnderground.com. Last week, the Democrat disclosed that she was on her way home and encountered a minivan beside a freeway offramp.

“There was a lady standing next to the van, and in her arms she held her child. I can only assume her minivan had broken down,” she said. “I slowed down and started to pull over to offer her a ride. At the very last second, I noticed a ‘W’ sticker on the back of her vehicle, and I sped up and drove off.

“I feel really bad as a human being,” she confessed. “That child is not responsible for their parent’s belief system. … I wondered how a person could see what was going on in [New Orleans] and still have one of those awful stickers on their car? How could they support an awful excuse for a human being that has let our country down and is letting Americans die after they have made it through the storm?”

So whatever became of the stranded mother and child?

“I thought that if she loves [Mr. Bush] so much, maybe he would come along and help her,” she said. “Let’s see what her hero can do for her.”

Self-service, anyone?

Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat and member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, got right to the point when grilling oil-industry executives about the nation’s rapidly rising gasoline prices:

Why, he wondered, are Americans paying so much for gasoline when major oil companies are “awash in money”?

Bob Slaughter, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, assured Mr. Wyden that, when it comes to record profits of late, oil companies often “lose that money overnight.”

Owing to scant oil production here in America, he explained, oil companies have to explore for resources in distant, often hostile lands, where unforeseen risks — not the least being “terrorism” — can drain millions of dollars of today’s profits in seconds.

He took the opportunity to recommend that Congress consider increasing oil production here at home.

Robert Darbelnet, meanwhile, the president and chief executive officer of AAA, urged Congress to crack down on car and sport utility vehicle manufacturers that post phony “miles-per-gallon” efficiency standards on the windows of new vehicles — sometimes 50 percent off the mark.

He charged that auto manufacturers base fuel-efficiency figures on the belief that Americans never drive above 55 mph, never travel uphill and don’t turn on vehicle air conditioners.

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

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