- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2007

Run, Fred, run

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson said he’d wait to decide whether to seek the presidency in 2008 after gauging public reaction to his announcement last week that he had been diagnosed in 2004 with a form of lymphoma, which is now in remission.

Suffice it to say, he has supporters. Not only was Mr. Thompson, in absentia, the talk of the Republican Party of Iowa’s Lincoln Day Dinner in Des Moines on Saturday night, but his wife, Jeri Thompson, says messages she’s received from across the country are all positive.

“The chairman of the Houston, Texas, Republican party called and ordered 100 [Thompson] bumper stickers; his precinct captains each want one,” she tells Inside the Beltway. “The anecdotes accompanying some of these orders are delightful.

“I received a call Thursday from an attorney who lives in Orange County, California. I have no idea where he got my name, but at any rate he wants to organize ‘Attorneys for Thompson’ in that state.”

John’s secretaries

It would appear that “Secretary’s Day” is being observed at this coming weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner — or so we gather from the guest list of Washington talk-meister John McLaughlin and his wife, Cristina.

Joining the McLaughlins at their tables for the Saturday night dinner are Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson.

The third or fourth Wednesday of April is traditionally the date when Secretary’s Day is observed. The annual tribute was started as “National Secretaries Week” in 1952 under proclamation by Commerce Secretary Charles Sawyer.

In those days, of course, a secretary was called a “secretary.” Given today’s politically correct atmosphere, Secretary’s Day was changed in 1998 to “Administrative Professionals’ Day.”

Choose your list

Certain patients being released from the Washington Hospital Center — the largest private medical facility in the nation’s capital and one of the top-rated hospitals in the country for heart and cancer care — are discovering an eye-opening list attached to their discharge papers.

It names several famous people who have died from smoking-related illnesses, such as emphysema, lung cancer and heart attacks. Listed are talk-show host Johnny Carson, ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, singer and actress Rosemary Clooney, jazz pioneer Duke Ellington, jazz performer Nat King Cole, and Grateful Dead lead guitarist and vocalist Jerry Garcia.

The patients, who have either recently stopped or are still smoking, are then asked: “Will your name be on the list of those who quit?”

Pose with Einstein

If your idea of a fun-filled Saturday is racing about town with a buddy, snapping funky photographs, and doing daft things like wolfing down hot dogs in a matter of seconds, then “Urban Dare DC” might be right up your alley.

Founded and organized by Washingtonian Kevin Keefe, the race is held in a dozen cities coast to coast, and Washington gets its turn on Saturday. Here’s the fun part: The race revolves around checkpoints, and each checkpoint is located by solving cryptic clues. Here are some sample race questions and answers:

• “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” A piece of the Berlin Wall was eventually brought to Washington. Get your picture taken in front of it. (A chunk of the wall is on display in the Ronald Reagan Building).

• Who was the Smithsonian’s first secretary? Go get your picture taken with him. (The John Henry statue in front of the Smithsonian Castle).

• Black-owned and operated since 1958, U can find it. Teams must eat two chili dogs there. (Ben’s Chili Bowl, 1213 U St. NW).

To move onto the next clue, pictures have to be taken of team members following orders. For instance, last year’s inaugural race in Washington had competitors climbing into the lap of the Albert Einstein statue at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest. Participants can expect to cover five to seven miles — by walking, running or using public transportation — in three to four hours.

Prizes include cash awards, gift certificates and trophies. Entry fee is $90 per two-person team. Registration closes at 3 p.m. on Friday, and the race will begin at noon at Pershing Square, 14th and E streets NW. For more information, go to www.urbandare.com.


A Hollywood awards show normally doesn’t attract a Washington crowd. And if it did, the Beltway types wouldn’t attract much attention. But the TV Land Awards Dinner on Saturday night was different.

No, it wasn’t political with “pop-culture” pollster Frank Luntz getting all the attention. Rather, it was conservative mouthpiece Ann Coulter getting all the stares, given the fact that she was on the unlikely arm of comedian Jimmie Walker, who played J.J. Evans on the 1970s TV sitcom “Good Times.”

Suddenly, veteran actor John Amos strolled past the couple. “Oh, my God, there’s your father,” Miss Coulter shrieked, referring to Mr. Amos having played James Evans Sr. on the show.

LeVar Burton, star of the groundbreaking TV miniseries “Roots,” noticed Miss Coulter with Mr. Walker, and gave the comedian a bit of lip for escorting the right-wing pundit, one observer tells Inside the Beltway.

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

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