- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 3, 2007

A new ‘Dawn’

That was Washington publicist Janet Donovan hosting a small private dinner at Teatro Goldoni last night for actor Jon Voight, who is in town shooting scenes with actor Nicolas Cage for “National Treasure 2,” as well as promoting the much-anticipated docudrama in which he stars, “September Dawn.”

The latter film, which is due out next month, surrounds the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah, where more than 120 settlers in a wagon train were attacked and killed by renegade Mormons.

“This is a well-documented event in the history of our country, a true story that is quite disturbing,” Mr. Voight tells Inside the Beltway, amid protests and concerns from leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The actor counters that it serves all mankind when a film can “bring truth to every chapter of history, like happened with ‘Rosewood’ [chronicling the murderous 1923 torching of a black town in Florida] and ‘Schindler’s List’ [where a World War II German businessman turns his factory into a Jewish refuge].

“All of these movies make the attempt to prevent future Holocausts,” insists Mr. Voight, as a means of “understanding the madness of men, despite their religions, so as to prevent future horrors.”

Several Mormon members of Congress, meanwhile, were invited to a recent screening of the film, but sent “only an assistant or two, no more than that,” he notes. In addition, church leaders issued a statement calling “September Dawn,” according to the actor, ” ‘not relevant to history at this time,’ but they are quite wrong about that.”

“This was something very important for me to do,” he says, “when looking at the situation in the world right now. We have the same problem with Islamic fanatics, who have called for the destruction of America and all of democracy.”

For the record, Mr. Voight calls Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who happens to be Mormon, a “very good candidate.”

Good year

We had to laugh at the letter of congratulations Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, sent to longtime political operative Bob Weiner on the occasion of his 60th birthday yesterday.

“Oh, to be 60 again,” quipped Mr. Kennedy, who turned 75 in February.

Before founding the strategic firm Robert Weiner Associates, Mr. Weiner was spokesman at one time or another for former White House drug czar Barry R. McCaffrey; Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat; Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat; Rep. Claude Pepper, Florida Democrat; and Rep. Edward I. Koch, New York Democrat. He was a political aide to Mr. Kennedy and was with the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate as its first Youth Vote director after 18-year-olds obtained the right to vote.

Can she bake?

So, should he become the next president, Republican Rudolph W. Giuliani says his wife, Judith, will be welcomed to Cabinet meetings as his unofficial adviser.

“I mean that would be something that I’d be very, very comfortable with,” the former New York City mayor told Barbara Walters on ABC’s “20/20.”

At which point HCD Research immediately polled 302 Americans about presidential spouses. The findings: 70 percent say a spouse “should not” hold a position in the president’s administration and 73 percent say a spouse “should not” be involved in policy-making decisions.

Belgian waffle

Imagine paying Uncle Sam for every hamburger and hot dog barbecued in your back yard.

Word from Capitol Hill yesterday is that the government of Belgium’s heavily populated Wallonia region has approved a tax on outdoor barbecuing, to begin in June. According to press reports, the region’s 4 million residents will pay 20 euros (up to $35) for every afternoon or evening of grilling, which the government hopes will force a reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions.

Helicopters with thermal sensors will patrol neighborhoods to detect burning grills.

If you build it

Little did we realize how many Inside the Beltway readers there are in Indiana. Trying our hand at a bit of humor this week, we’d written that members of the Washington press corps are trying to figure out how to get to Evansville, Ind., for the September wedding of fellow scribes Anne Schroeder and Luke Mullins.

Traveling to Baghdad, not a problem. But Evansville?

“Interesting that the main topic at the engagement party was how to get to Evansville, Indiana,” writes Phyllis Ketrow of Martinsville, one of several Hoosiers to weigh in. “We here in central Indiana have been asking that for years! There is no easy way to get to Evansville, although there has been talk of an express highway for decades.”

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

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