- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2007

No pun intended

We had to laugh at the U.S. Senate passing a resolution this week wishing New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine a “speedy” recovery, following his rush-hour crash on the Garden State Parkway.

“Speedy?” says one Capitol Hill aide. “Like 91 mph?”

The governor’s sport utility vehicle, driven by a state trooper, was clocked speeding at 91 mph just seconds before the crash. Mr. Corzine wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

Student safety

George Mason University’s “Sextravaganza 2007” might seem like a bizarre venue to honor victims of this week’s Virginia Tech massacre, but those are not your father’s college campuses anymore.

“Many conversations have been taking place among students, faculty and staff about wanting to ‘do something’ to show support for the Virginia Tech Community,” Susan Stahley, George Mason’s director of the office of alcohol, drug and health education, writes in a university memo.

So, she wrote of yesterday’s “Sextravaganza … there will be a table set up … where you can write a personal message of hope, love and support.”

Sextravaganza is the local college’s annual sex-education day, which promotes safe sex through all forms of birth control — including abstinence.

Kerry in Washington

That’s Hollywood actress Kerry Washington, who once lived in Foggy Bottom and graduated from George Washington University in 1998 — and who most recently played the role of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin’s wife in “The Last King of Scotland” — testifying on Capitol Hill today.

As a board member of the Creative Coalition, she will be asking Congress to increase the year-to-year funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Condi card

If Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is going to run for president in 2008, somebody had better encourage her to get going.

Crystal Dueker, communications director of Think Condi ‘08, tells Inside the Beltway that Miss Rice, who insists that she has zero interest in seeking the presidency, has popular support from her home state of Alabama, where “she is a rock star,” to California, where one straw poll has her finishing on the top among Republicans.

“It shows that California is in play with her on the 2008 ticket,” Ms. Dueker says. “Her 90 percent name [recognition] is worth $10 million is advertising, and she also has 58 percent job approval. Whenever her name is included in national polls, she is at 10 percent or more.”

In a recent straw poll in South Carolina — the first southern state to hold a presidential primary — Miss Rice finished third.

Supporters of Miss Rice hope to persuade her to run through a draft movement.

Princess Kim

We see Kim Strycharz, former deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Education, is making her presence felt at Buckingham Palace, following her recent marriage to Peter Skinner, a British member of the European Parliament (MEP).

Indeed, before moving to Brussels, the couple was among guests of President and Mrs. Bush at a February White House gala. From there, it was on to Buckingham Palace, where the newlyweds were introduced to Queen Elizabeth II.

“I found a great dress, very classic pink with a matching coat,” Mrs. Skinner writes to Inside the Beltway. “We were met by the queen’s security, sort of the same as the White House Secret Service — the keepers of the royal invitation list. We entered and walked right up to the palace doors and up the red carpet … me, totally speechless, trying to figure out how I ever got here and really digging my husband.”

After champagne and hors d’oeuvres (mini shepherd’s pie and mushroom tarts) were passed on silver trays, the queen arrived, also wearing pink.

“My husband introduced me and I curtsied — about a hundred Americans at the State Department told me Americans do not curtsey to the queen, however, the Brits I asked insisted. The MEPs told me basically the queen touches your hand, she doesn’t really shake it, but believe me she absolutely did squeeze my hand with her white gloves. She was lovely.”

The queen then whispered something to Mr. Skinner, and “then turned to me, noting that I was clearly American. I told her I was from Washington,” says the former Education official.

“Oh, and she said that she will be heading over to Jamestown, [Virginia], for the 400th Anniversary celebration. I asked her if she would be stopping in Washington, which she confirmed.”

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

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