- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2006

Don’t tread on me

Virginia senatorial wife Susan Allen and Republican operative Mary Matalin, accompanied by their respective daughters, were asked to leave a birthday celebration for the city of Alexandria on Saturday evening because they were “distracting.”

That says a close friend of Mrs. Allen, the wife of Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen, who is seeking re-election to a second term.

“They were asked to leave the public event by Alexandria’s Parks and Recreation Department because they were told they were ‘distracting,’” the friend states. “That was the exact word [officials] used. Perhaps these Alexandria servants should be reminded that politicking at public, community events is a time-honored, American tradition, not to mention a First Amendment right.”

Actually, the two women weren’t so much politicking as they were attracting attention while strolling through the waterfront festival, held at Oronoco Bay Park. Frequently mentioned as a possible White House contender in 2008, Mr. Allen faces a formidable challenger in former Navy Secretary Jim Webb, a Republican until he jumped ship and became a Democrat.

Alexandria is known for being a Democratic bastion. The current mayor, vice mayor and council members are all Democrats. In addition, Old Town is home to former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat who has his own eyes on the White House in 2008. Mr. Allen resides in the Mount Vernon section of Fairfax County, just south of Alexandria.

Beyond walking on water, there was little the Alexandria “servants” could do to stop a Potomac River boat captain from showing her loyalty to the Republican candidate by cruising along the waterfront festival with “George Allen for Senate” banners hanging from the port and starboard sides of her boat.

Knows his weeds

A most intriguing e-mail arrived in our mailbox from a Washington public-relations associate, who copied it to every reporter on his media contact list.

The letter reads: “I walk past a marijuana plant on my way to work each day that has found a home just outside the gate of an embassy. I happen to find this a bit funny considering the number of people that walk past it each day.

“Anyway, I’ll tell the first reporter to get back to me where the plant is located. I would recommend taking a photo first before asking the embassy any questions.”

Inside the Beltway is pleased to announce that we were the first to contact the PR executive, who spoke to us about the marijuana plant on the condition of anonymity.

“It is the Tunisian Embassy at 1515 Massachusetts Avenue,” he told us. “But here is the sad thing: they tore it up.”

You don’t say?

“Don’t worry, I took a picture of the plant, and I can send it to you. The plant was much taller and bushier last week.”

So do you think somebody harvested the plant? Or do you think it simply got weed-whacked?

“I don’t know. There are a lot of weeds growing around there; there’s not much upkeep by the embassy.”

Hmmm.

“I first noticed the plant a month or two ago. I did a double-take. ‘Oh my God,’ I said to myself. ‘It’s a marijuana plant.’”

Then what did you do?

“I kept an eye on it. And it kept growing and growing. It was literally to the left of the gate, growing up out of a crack next to the curb.”

Smile, Steny

Inside the Beltway told you last Friday about a pair of candid photographs of House Democratic Whip Rep. Steny H. Hoyer and Maryland Democratic senatorial candidate Kweisi Mfume prominently displayed on the front page of the Michael S. Steele for U.S. Senate Web site.

One photo shows a smiling Mr. Hoyer hamming it up the Republican lieutenant governor during last Tuesday’s Independence Day celebration in Bowie.

“Apparently your column item generated a lot of controversy,” Steele campaign spokesman Doug Heye called to say over the weekend. “Congressman Hoyer’s office just called and asked us to take the photograph down. I told them that I would alert the lieutenant governor to their request and let them know as soon as possible.

“However, I don’t see why a harmless photo of two politicians enjoying a moment together can cause such controversy in the Hoyer camp.”

Klaus in town

Morton’s co-founder Klaus Fritsch, who wrote the book on steak, is paying a visit to the downtown Morton’s on Connecticut Avenue tomorrow evening, not Wednesday as reported earlier, to celebrate the release of “Morton’s Steak Bible.”

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

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