- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Expert witness

“You are no stranger to controversial presidential pardons, most notably the pardon of Marc Rich on your last day of office,” House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, writes in a letter dated yesterday and sent to former President Bill Clinton, requesting that he testify at the Democrats’ Thursday hearing on presidential-pardon authority.

“I can think of no better person than you to speak on this issue,” says Mr. Smith, pointing out that the hearing of the Judiciary’s crime subcommittee, titled “The Appropriate Use of the Presidential Pardoning Power,” is expected to explore what is and is not the appropriate use of pardons, despite a president’s plenary power to issue pardons.

Mr. Clinton, notes the Texan, granted pardons or commuted the sentences of nearly 500 people, including Mr. Rich, a fugitive financier “whose wife donated $450,000 to the Clinton Library.”

“Other pardons included a person accused of cocaine trafficking and a former Democratic committee chairman indicted on political-corruption charges.”

Concludes Mr. Smith: “I hope he will lend his expertise.”

Terrorist links

We see Tom DeLay has retained his sense of humor following the Texas Republican’s well-publicized resignation from Congress.

Reflecting on his years on Capitol Hill, the former House majority leader says: “The press and their liberal lords” worked in overdrive to paint his congressional activities, especially travel, “as some sinister conspiracy. … ”

“For them, words like ‘corporate,’ ‘lobbyist,’ and ‘private’ are vile,” Mr. DeLay writes in his new book, “No Retreat, No Surrender.”

He recalls one “aboveboard” trip to Scotland to brief conservative politicians. He crossed the Atlantic aboard a private plane, held his meetings, and before departing played a “few rounds” of golf — as PresidentClinton often did when traveling.

“On this trip, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at St. Andrews, the legendary birthplace of golf and a mecca for all true players,” Mr. DeLay notes. “When I returned home, you would have thought I had joined al Qaeda.”

Note to teacher

When one is elected to Congress, nothing is as important as casting votes on behalf of constituents. Nevertheless, when the time comes to decide on a bill or other piece of legislation, Capitol Hill has its share of no-shows. Here are just a few explanations from the past week:

“Unavoidably detained with legislative business.” (Rep. John B. Larson, Connecticut Democrat)

“Airline mixup and malfunction.” (Rep. Harry E. Mitchell, Arizona Democrat)

“Because I was meeting with British members of Parliament in an effort to … end the Iraq War.” (Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat)

“I was traveling with the president of the United States.” (Rep. Sam Graves, Missouri Republican)

“I was granted a leave of absence.” (Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican)

“Because my flight from my district was delayed.” (Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Democrat)

“Due to air-traffic delays.” (Rep. Julia Carson, Indiana Democrat)

“I was not able to attend … I take my responsibility to vote very seriously.” (Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Texas Democrat)

Country vet

The next stop for former Vice PresidentAl Gore in his campaign to save the planet from climate change ought to be the countless cattle farms in his home state of Tennessee.

While we don’t have an exact head count of cows currently chewing cud in Tennessee, we’ve confirmed more than 5,100 members of the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association — each doing their share to supply Big Macs and Whoppers to the country’s fast-food chains.

Enter Kate Connolly, of Britain’s Guardian newspaper, who writes that if members of the public “really want to tackle global warming, you should stop your [local] cow from burping.”

Here’s the gist: Methane gas produced by cows is responsible for 4 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions. And with meat consumption growing, that percentage is set to rise even further. Concerned by the increased discharge, German scientists have invented a fist-sized, plant-based pill to cut “bovine burping.”

“Our aim is to increase the well-being of the cow, to reduce the greenhouse gases produced and to increase agricultural production all at once,” explains Winfried Drochner of the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart.

The fallout

“Global warming … it’s enough to keep a person up at night. Indeed, a growing number of people have literally worried themselves sick over various environmental doomsday scenarios. Their worry even has a name: eco-anxiety. Melissa Pickett, an eco-therapist with a practice in Santa Fe [in New Mexico], sees anywhere from 40 to 80 eco-anxious patients a month. They complain of panic attacks, loss of appetite, irritability and unexplained bouts of weakness, sleeplessness and ‘buzzing,’ which they describe as the eerie feeling that their cells are twitching.”

—Justin Nobel, of the Columbia News Service, in Sunday’s Rutland (Vt.) Herald

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


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