- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Healthy separation

Absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder — or so Vice President Dick Cheney acknowledged in remarks yesterday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Legislative Conference in the District.

“I’ve been away from Washington recently,” he noted. “Some, of course, consider that a positive.”

3 Little Pigs analogy

“Has anyone looked at the origin” of the anti-homosexual epithet Ann Coulter used over the weekend to describe 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, a former one-term senator from North Carolina?

“I did, it’s a British term; first meaning is a bundle of sticks,” writes Inside the Beltway reader John Engel. “And yes, John Edwards is a bundle of sticks. He has no sustenance, and a bundle of sticks is not a good support or structure, like the second of the Three Pigs found out.”

When not used as slang, the word Miss Coulter used means to bind or tie up, as in sticks; it also means a bundle of sticks and branches that are bound together.

D’Amato’s hand

The Poker Players Alliance, a grass-roots organization of more than 160,000 poker enthusiasts, dealt us word yesterday that former Sen. Alfonse DAmato, New York Republican, has become its chairman of the board to help lead efforts in Washington to protect the game of poker.

“I have had a passion for poker since my childhood and for politics almost as long. This new position will allow me to fuse these passions and help establish sensible policy that allows Americans to enjoy the great game of poker in the venue of their choosing,” said Mr. D’Amato, referring to the game’s growing popularity on the Internet.

Congress has started cracking down on Internet gambling, including poker, which more than 23 million Americans played online last year.

Rutherford’s roll

Snow may be forecast for tomorrow, but there’s a bunny at the end of the tunnel.

The annual White House Easter Egg Roll, a sure sign that spring has arrived in Washington, will be held on April 9, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the South Lawn of the White House.

“Do you know that since 1878 presidents have hosted this event?” President Bush once observed. “The first president who did so was a guy named Rutherford B. Hayes.” (Yep, we’ve heard of him.)

Free tickets will be distributed starting at 7:30 a.m. on April 7, with a smaller allotment up for grabs on April 9. Tickets are timed for entrance and will be distributed on a first-come basis at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion (southwest corner of 15th and E streets Northwest). A maximum of five tickets will be issued per person. And sorry, but no more than two adults per group.

Rooney’s ride

Mail keeps pouring in surrounding our item last week about Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney being among eight civilian and military combat journalists, known as “the Writing 69th,” during World War II.

Mr. Cronkite reported for United Press, while Sgt. Rooney wrote for Stars and Stripes.

“My father piloted B17’s and completed 25 missions during 1943-1944; 351st bombing group based in [Polebrook, England],” writes Inside the Beltway reader Robin A. Fowler.

“My Dad still tells the story about one mission when Andy Rooney went along for the ride. It would be fascinating to hear Andy’s recollections of that mission. I am told he was a bit shaken when he returned and admired for the nerve it took to volunteer for the ride.”

Carry on

The Annenberg Foundation has just handed a $4 million grant to the Partnership for Public Service, which works to revitalize the federal civil service and improve government effectiveness.

We’re told the generous grant will finance two new initiatives over the next four years: The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Federal Leadership Institute, which will identify promising midlevel federal supervisors in government; and a public-service speakers bureau named after the couple that will provide distinguished speakers to college campuses and other venues to inspire the next generation of public servants.

The late Mr. Annenberg was a U.S. ambassador to England, while Mrs. Annenberg is a former chief of protocol of the United States.

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

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