John McCaslin

"I want to thank the mayor for being here. Lyda Ann Thomas greeted me coming in. I said, 'Do you still have Splash Day?' You have to be a baby boomer to know what I'm talking about. I'm not saying whether I came or not on Splash Day, I'm just saying, 'Do you have Splash Day?' It's great to be back in Galveston. What a cool city."

- President Bush, not realizing during a visit to Galveston, Texas, this week that an annual beach party dating from the 1950s is now an unofficial homosexual event.


Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. was asked by Don Imus on "Imus in the Morning" this week why the Bush family, if it is really so friendly with the Saudi royal family, can't persuade them to lower the price of oil?

"We keep thinking that personal relationships somehow are going to alter the behavior of the House of Saud," the Delaware Democrat replied. "I don't see any evidence of that. I mean, these guys are tough."

How tough?

"These guys know they have us right now, and I think ... they're looking at maybe 'you back off us a little bit on our need to democratize - all your talk, Mr. President, about us spreading freedom around the world' - that sounds good, but not on the Saudi Arabian peninsula.

"So I think they've got President Bush kind of in a spot right now."


Politically speaking, Vermont has always stood alone.

There is Rep. Bernard Sanders, who, when sworn in as Vermont's at-large member of the House in 1991, became the first independent - Democratic Socialist, if you will -- elected to Congress in 40 years. He's been re-elected seven times, becoming the longest-serving independent in Capitol Hill history.

And who will forget 2001, when Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont rocked every committee on Capitol Hill by switching his party affiliation from Republican to independent and handing control of the Senate to Democrats?

Then there's former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a freethinker if there ever was one, now in sole charge of the Democratic Party.

If that bunch isn't independent enough, enter Vermont Commons, "voices of independence" who are proposing that their state secede from the United States while there still is one.

"From 1777 (to) 1791, the citizens of Vermont governed themselves as an independent republic," say the otherwise ordinary citizens, who are "dedicated to the proposition that Vermonters should peaceably secede from the United States and govern themselves as an independent republic once again."

John McCaslin

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

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