- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Karl Rove can stare down special prosecutors, intimidate rivals and dispatch Democratic presidential nominees to deep oblivion, but he’s no match for the frugal wiper.

Getting downwind of Sheryl Crow could be everybody’s nightmare.

Miss Crow is a pop singer of some repute, as such reputations go, but like a lot of dance-hall glitteries she wants to do bigger things than sing songs about old boyfriends who dumped her. She’s busy at the moment trying to cool down the globe, having just completed a transcontinental bus tour with her gal pal, a Los Angeles housewife named Laurie David, promising bemused college kids there’s soon going to be a hot time in the old town, if not tonight then just as soon as the April ice and snow melt.

A little learning is a dangerous thing, as Alexander Pope reminded us, but he didn’t consider the half of it. Ignorance combined with a little talent can be lethal. Miss Crow is obsessed with “emissions control,” and she’s concerned about trees. She can’t grasp the difference between a California redwood planted by the wind 20 centuries ago and a Georgia soft pine planted by man 20 years ago to be harvested for pulp and paper. She’s a very deep thinker of thoughts sometimes as weighty as a wisp of cotton candy. This is from her blog:

“Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating. One of my favorites is in the area of forest conservation which we heavily rely on for oxygen. I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don’t want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 or 3 could be required.”

You can see why Karl Rove was wary when she approached him at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner the other night in Washington, where he was trying to confront his plate of “surf ‘n’ turf,” a grim enough prospect for anyone any time anywhere. Miss Crow and her lady-in-waiting accosted him in midbite.

“I urge you to take a new look at global warming,” the gal pal told him. Words were soon flying as thick as sour-mash notes at a rock concert, and the honky-tonk diva stepped in to make peace, and made infotainment news.

“You work for me,” she haughtily told the president’s main man.

“No, I don’t,” he replied. “I work for the American people.”

There was more along that line, but enough was enough for Karl: “She came over to insult me, and she succeeded.” Villain or not, he was too much the Texican gentleman to say whether Miss Crow passed the sniff test, but who could blame him for turning discreetly away? For all he knew, Miss Crow had just come from one of those “pesky occasions” where she had done her duty for the planet even though “2 or 3 squares” were not really enough.

Miss Crow is a full-service visionary. Another of her inspirations for emissions control is “in the earliest stages of development.” (Deep thinkers never rest.) She regards paper dinner napkins, like toilet paper, a byproduct of all those pine trees, as “representing the height of wastefulness.” She never uses them. She has designed a “dining sleeve,” which is worn over a shirt or blouse or maybe even a jacket, and if a diner misses his mouth with surf, turf or whatever he can wipe the surplus gravy on his dining sleeve. The sleeve is detachable for laundering, or even for one of those “pesky occasions.”

Miss Crow, like her energy-hogging hero Al Gore, worries about leaving a deep “carbon footprint,” and according to the Smoking Gun, an irreverent and reliable Internet site, she travels the country in “three tractor trailers, four buses and six cars” to spread her message of frugality (for others). Her typical concert contract includes binding instructions that she must have in her dressing room 12 bottles of Grolsch beer, six bottles of “local” beer, eight bottles of Snapple (various flavors), four bottles of ginger ale, a pint of soy milk, bottles (one each) of “good” Australian cabernet, a merlot, bourbon, gin and brandy, and “unchilled” mineral water (“not Evian”), and lots of chips and dips. On a diet like that, one square of toilet paper is never enough.

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.

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