- The Washington Times - Monday, June 26, 2006

Pass the kugel

Gen. Richard B. Myers, former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, thinks highly enough of Jeffrey Ross that he will appear on stage in Georgetown this evening with the comedian turned filmmaker for an exclusive VIP screening of the film “Patriot Act.”

“He’s taken me all over the world,” Mr. Ross tells Inside the Beltway of the retired Air Force general.

Inspired by USO perennial Bob Hope, Mr. Ross joined the likes of Drew Carey and other comedians who have traveled to Iraq to perform for U.S. troops. Except he thought it would be fun to bring along a camcorder to videotape candid moments and other interactions with the men and women in uniform.

Never in the comedian’s wildest dreams, he says in an interview, did he expect the home video would become a documentary — or for that matter win the recent Best Feature Film award at the Montreal Comedy Festival.

“I made this video for my friends and I to watch together,” he says of “Patriot Act.” “The fact that regular Americans are now seeing it is unbelievable. Everybody who sees the movie will get what I got: a backstage pass to the world.”

He adds: “And to think this was done with my own little camera, basically proving that any schmuck with a $600 video camera can be a film director.”

Highlights of the movie range from his on- and offstage antics, to the comedian’s hotel being struck by mortar fire, to him sitting on SaddamHussein’s throne at the former leader’s birthday palace, and him sharing a holiday meal with Jewish soldiers celebrating Rosh Hashanah.

Money and access

Their close working relationship is nothing new. But what is new is the surfacing of e-mails that were exchanged between disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and prominent Republican activist Grover Norquist, the latter seeking donations for his tax-exempt group Americans for Tax Reform from the lobbyist’s clients in exchange for face time with senior Bush White House officials.

One such July 2002 e-mail Mr. Norquist sent to Mr. Abramoff, obtained by the Associated Press from federal and congressional investigators, reads: “Can the tribes contribute $100,000 for the effort to bring state legislatures and those tribal leaders who have passed Bush resolutions to Washington?”

“When I have funding,” Mr. Norquist continued, “I will ask [senior Bush adviser] Karl Rove for a date with the president. Karl has already said ‘yes’ in principle and knows you organized this last time and hope to this year.”

Put it in print

We see where Alexandria has reached its limit with unwanted “free” newspapers being thrown onto sidewalks, lawns and driveways of the historic city, to the extent that it is weighing passage of a “Do Not Deliver” ordinance.

The No. 1 violator, according to city officials, is the Washington Examiner.

Council member Paul Smedberg says 100-plus complaints received by the city hall about the newspaper are “only the tip of the iceberg.”

“I have come home and found three copies of the Examiner on my lawn and more just thrown at the end of my street,” he told a public hearing. “I know people who have called the circulation department repeatedly and asked that the paper not be delivered to their homes and there has been no response.”

According to the Alexandria Times, another free newspaper that is mailed to residents, the Examiner’s Chief Executive Officer Herb Maloney actually showed up at the hearing and pledged that delivery of all unwanted newspapers would now stop within 72 hours of a complaint.

At which point council member Rob Krupicka requested of the CEO: “I would like you to put all of these commitments in writing and send them to us.”

The fine print

President Bush on Friday signed an executive order to protect the private-property rights of the American people. Or did he?

“It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the federal government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public,” the order reads.

But reading further down to the “Specific Exclusions” in Section 3, it states that nothing in the order prohibits the taking of private property by Uncle Sam for use by the public for roadways, parks, forests, governmental office buildings, military reservations, medical facilities, public transportation and public utilities.

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

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