- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2007

Hail Cesar?

Anybody care to take another national holiday, this one honoring Cesar E. Chavez?

Rep. Silvestre Reyes, Texas Democrat, says the civil rights figure, who brought unprecedented attention to the arduous conditions faced by agricultural workers in the U.S., is deserving of his own federal holiday.

Mr. Chavez died in April 1993, and one year later President Clinton posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas have state holidays coinciding with Mr. Chavez’s birthday.

Eyes into the world

Those were school pictures of his two adopted children that Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, who wants to become the Republican Party’s next nominee for president, pulled from his pocket during a Washington dinner Wednesday night.

“I can’t help but show them,” he beamed of the children, one from Guatemala and the other from China, albeit he says the pair look and act like twins.

It’s become apparent that Mr. Brownback’s adopted children (he and his wife, Mary, have three older children) have weighed heavily on his legislative proceedings — first in the House, and later in the Senate after he won the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Bob Dole.

In 2005, he co-sponsored a bill calling for recognition of November as National Adoption Month, saying his “family has been personally touched by adoption.”

This month, while discussing immigration during a presidential campaign stop in South Carolina, Mr. Brownback brought up his 9-year-old son from Guatemala, saying it took more than seven years for the youngster to obtain an American passport because of a U.S. immigration policy that sometimes treats illegal aliens better than it does legal immigrants.

Now that his bill to increase Federal Communications Commission indecency fines has become law, Mr. Brownback this week has been examining the impact that TV commercials, especially those peddling fast food and candy, have had on children. And who better for the senator to observe than his two youngest children, one of whom, he admits, is regularly glued to the set.

Senators so-and-so

He once said the seeds of “The Freedom Toast” were sown at the annual Renaissance Weekend gatherings, where Marc Emory, the political satire group’s muse and founder, was encouraged to record some of his just-for-fun musical efforts.

“It just became this thing that we kept doing, that kept getting bigger,” commented Mr. Emory, son of former Gridiron Club President Alan S. Emory, longtime Washington correspondent for the Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times.

But when speaking of his late father yesterday, Mr. Emory revealed by e-mail that the seeds for the troupe actually were planted when he was a boy.

“My dad used to bring me up to the Senate Press Gallery a lot when I was very small — in the days when Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois used to hold court there as the ‘Wizard of Ooze,’ ” he says. “And he used to introduce me to so many of these guys. I used to think that my dad knew a whole bunch of guys whose first name was ‘Senator,’ which struck me as odd, since none of my playmates had that name.”

The Freedom Toast makes its one-night-only Washington appearance at 8 p.m. on April 24 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. It’s the premiere of the new production “A Freedom Roast,” which features skits on 2008 Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, to White House characters I. LewisScooter LibbyJr. and Monica Lewinsky.

Get tickets at www.thefreedomtoast.com.

Carrying on

The late Georgia Republican Rep. Charles Norwood, whose district encompassed the golf mecca of Augusta, had begun a tradition whereby on the eve of the Masters Tournament he would stand before Congress and honor a golfer of great acclaim.

“I rise today to carry on [that] tradition,” Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, Georgia Republican, announced this week. “This year, that tribute belongs to Gary Player, a world-renowned golfer whose accomplishments extend far beyond the links. In April, Mr. Player will tee up at the Augusta National for the Masters tournament for the 50th consecutive year, a remarkable achievement of longevity in any career.”

Of his 159 career victories, Mr. Player has won nine major championships: three Masters, three British Opens, two U.S. Opens and one PGA Championship.

Mr. Norwood died in February at age 65 after battling cancer and lung disease.

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected].

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