John McCaslin
MAN'S BEST FRIEND "Splash," a Portuguese water dog belonging to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, is making quite the splash on Capitol Hill, where the curly-haired pooch is granted greater access to the hallowed halls of Congress than the Massachusetts Democrat's own constituents. On Tuesday; for instance, Kennedy and Splash emerged from a VIP reception room just off the Senate floor. From there, a Kennedy aide led Splash into a U.S. Capitol elevator, onto an escalator, aboard a Senate subway car, into another elevator and -- freed from his leash by now -- back down the hallway to the senator's office. U.S. Capitol Police told us that all Americans who can't bear to part from their best friends are allowed to bring their dogs into the U.S. Capitol, or any of the surrounding congressional buildings, so long -- attention, Sen. Kennedy -- as they remain leashed. JUDGE BY NUMBERS Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is leading a deliberate disinformation campaign by contending that Republicans treated President Clinton's nominees worse than Democrats treated Republican nominees. That according to Thomas L. Jipping, director of the Judicial Selection Monitoring Project in Washington, who says when Democrats last ran the Senate during the first year of the former President Bush's administration, they set the modern record for the fewest annual confirmations. "In 1989, Democrats confirmed just 15 Bush nominees (and) closed the Bush presidency in 1992 refusing to confirm 55 judicial nominees," says Jipping. "By contrast, the Republican-led Senate closed the Clinton presidency last year refusing to confirm 41 judicial nominees." FLATULENCE OF SORTS Mother Earth might be regulating her own temperature, venting global warming -- manmade or not -- into space. The National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington is drawing attention to a new study, conducted by a team of scientists led by Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, pointing to a natural "vent" in the Earth's atmosphere that releases heat into space. "The authors say that, if true, the existence of a de facto atmospheric thermostat that helps keep the Earth's temperature on an even keel would require global-warming theorists to significantly scale back their predictions of warming allegedly caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases," notes the policy center's David Ridenour. Appearing in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the study examines how thin, high cirrus clouds help to regulate global temperature -- and serve as a counter to global warming. In short, Ridenour summarizes, the cirrus clouds operate much as the "iris" of an eye regulates the admission of light. The clouds open in response to rising surface temperature, permitting cooling. The clouds close when the surface temperature cools to retain heat. ESCAPE IN A BOOK First lady Laura Bush, a former schoolteacher and librarian, will host the first-ever National Book Festival at the Library of Congress, modeled after the highly successful Texas Book Festival she founded. The festival will take place on Saturday, Sept. 8, with readings, performances, music and book signings by a wide selection of noted authors and artists from around the country. Days into her husband's presidency, Mrs. Bush sought out a public school library in Washington to renew the nation's focus on the importance of reading. Rather than visiting an affluent school, Mrs. Bush chose one where 750 children have to walk through metal detectors every day, greeted by a security guard instead of their principal. DINNER WITH DUTCH To mark former President Ronald Reagan's 90th birthday, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation has commissioned a rather impressive book of photographs titled, "Ronald Reagan: An American Hero." And don't just take our word for it. "A work of devotional art," says William F. Buckley Jr., founder of National Review. "I haven't seen a more beautiful portrait of anyone, living or dead." Others given a sneak peak include television talk-show host Larry King, who labels the new book "a pictorial masterpiece," while syndicated columnist George F. Will remarks: "To open this book at any page is to meet an old friend radiating the vigor and hope with which he infused the nation. The book is as big and colorful and stirring as the life it celebrates." Former top Reagan aide Frederick J. Ryan Jr., vice chairman and chief operating officer of Washington-based Allbritton Communications Co. who serves as chairman of the board of trustees of the Reagan Presidential Foundation, says the book will be available at bookstores on July 4, with proceeds benefiting the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. The book contains more than 500 archival and full-color images of the nation's 40th president, including many never-before published photos from Nancy Reagan's private collection. "I also see old friends like Margaret Thatcher, Frank Sinatra, and - who would have thought it - Mikhail Gorbachev," Mrs. Reagan says of additional portraits. "But mostly I see Ronnie: the gifted world leader, the loving husband and father, a man of depth, humor, compassion, and love for his country, its people, and life itself." As Reagan once observed: "One of the great things about being president is that you can invite anyone you want to lunch or dinner, and chances are they'll come." SECRET DESIRES Good grief, what's become of masculinity in this country when a survey reveals that the person men most fantasize they are while shaving in the mirror are mob boss Tony Soprano, followed by Bill Clinton? That's right, Bubba. For what it's worth, not a single man surveyed said they fantasize about being President Bush while looking into the mirror, according to the survey on shaving habits conducted by the Kaplan Thaler Group Ltd.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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