- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Wing and a prayer

A Catholic priest who was a personal friend of the late Pope John Paul II is the new chaplain of Washington Dulles International Airport, where in this unsettling age of terrorist-targeted travel more and more faithful are kneeling down to pray.

“I had a full chapel last Saturday at the vigil Mass,” the Rev. Philip Majka tells Inside the Beltway, adding that when he isn’t celebrating the liturgy (the chapel is located in Terminal B, near Gate 30) he is often roaming the sweeping airport complex.

Clad in his priestly collar and sporting an official ID badge, “people often approach me,” the priest notes. “I’m getting to know the police, airport workers, and I visit with the travelers … wishing them a bon voyage” (and no doubt offering up prayers and reassuring words in the process).

“And I can go through security without taking off my shoes!” Father Majka boasts. “Maybe that’s going to change, who knows? I have a challenge right now of how to get a bottle of wine through [security]. I have to have the Mass wine, you know.”

Like the late pope, Father Majka, a longtime priest in the Diocese of Arlington, has Polish roots. He first met then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla in 1969 when he was selected to be his Washington guide, accompanying the future pope to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and to Arlington National Cemetery, and along the cobblestone streets of Old Town Alexandria, which reminded the cardinal of his hometown in Poland.

Long on security

Length of the motorcade carrying President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney (they rode together in the same limo) from the White House to meetings at the Pentagon and State Department yesterday: 21 cars.

Turncoat?

We’d written about President Bush being personally disappointed by Sen. Joe Lieberman’s loss last Tuesday in the Connecticut Democratic primary.

The question now is whether Mr. Bush will go so far as to throw his support behind Mr. Lieberman — who has subsequently filed to seek re-election as an independent — and shun the already struggling Republican candidate, Alan Schlesinger?

“The president supports the democratic process in the state of Connecticut, and wishes them a successful election in November,” White House spokesman Tony Snow replied when pressed on that question yesterday.

“Wait a minute,” a reporter protested. “I realize he supports democracy, but I’m wondering, does he actually support his own party’s candidate?”

“I don’t know,” Mr. Snow honestly answered, referring follow-up questions to the White House political office.

Couple of cowboys

We’re told Vice President Dick Cheney will be campaigning in Montana tomorrow, where three-term Sen. Conrad Burns has a tough challenger in Democrat Jon Tester, an organic farmer and state senator. (He was selected president of the state Senate in 2005.)

Mr. Burns has found it extremely difficult to cut his “guilt by association” ties to former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, even though he gave back approximately $150,000 in donations he received from the disgraced lobbyist and his associates.

Tour of ‘Nowhere’

A nationwide road tour (now surpassing 7,000 miles) of wasteful congressional pet projects will pull into Alaska today, making a stop at the once-proposed site of the $223 million infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” — or, more specifically, it would have linked Gravina Island (population 50) to Ketchikan (population 7,922).

“We are really the first anti-pork group to actually visit the site of numerous earmarks from coast to coast,” Annie Patnaude, spokeswoman for the Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s Ending Earmarks Express, tells Inside the Beltway.

Where’s Osama?

The Cosmos Club on Massachusetts Avenue will be the venue this evening for a screening and panel discussion of “In the Footsteps of bin Laden,” produced by CNN.

The two-hour production is described as an investigation into the life of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, the world’s most-wanted man.

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

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