A phone call away

John McCaslin
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Posted: May 11, 2006 8:05 PM

Rest assured, White House telephone operators - two of whom spoke to The Beltway Beat - have heard it all.

Take the woman who called the White House earlier this week and identified herself as "Grandma Rap." She requested President Bush's mailing address so she could send the commander in chief her latest CD.

But our favorite caller, also this week, claimed to possess the DNA of Adam and Eve, which the person invited Bush to tap into, thereby curing everything that ails the world.


FUTURE REPUBLICAN

"Hey, Rich, good to see you, buddy," President Bush told staunch supporter Richard T. Crotty during a presidential stop Wednesday in Orlando, Fla. "You might remember his son made him famous. Made me famous, too.

"The lad went to sleep in the middle of one of my stemwinders."

Who will forget the fidgety son of the Orange County mayor twisting his head, yawning and eventually falling asleep - while standing on his feet directly behind Bush - during a 45-minute campaign address by the president in 2004.

David Letterman made Tyler Crotty even more famous by showing a video of his background performance during a skit on his "Late Show" on CBS about how Bush invigorates America's youth.


HOOD OF NOTTINGHAM

C-SPAN junkies this week will notice the first major format change in more than a decade with the network's congressional coverage. The major cities of a congressman's district are now identified on the screen.

Previously, lawmakers were identified by only their party affiliation and state. The change was suggested by C-SPAN viewers who watch the network's weekly coverage of the British House of Commons, where members' local constituencies are identified.

An example of the new format:

Rep. Marion Berry

D-Arkansas

Jonesboro, Cabot, Mountain Home


JUST ASK KERRY

A pair of Republican congressmen want to dissolve the Presidential Election Campaign Fund - the $3 contribution box taxpayers can check on their federal tax form to help finance presidential elections.

Only 11 percent of taxpayers supported the fund in 2004, according to Reps. John T. Doolittle of California and Randy Neugebauer of Texas. By 2008, that number is projected to fall to 5 percent - meaning 95 percent of taxpayers will choose not to participate.

The congressmen contend the fund diverts money from the general treasury that instead could be used to reduce the massive federal deficit. Apart from that, they point out, Sen. John Kerry said recently that his decision to participate in the public financing system was the biggest mistake in his failed 2004 presidential campaign.


SELF-HELP BOOK

"I've lost 40 pounds and have another 20 to go," NBC "Today" show travel editor Peter Greenberg tells The Beltway Beat.

Greenberg, who logs an average of 400,000 air miles each year, has a new book out this week, "The Traveler's Diet: Eating Right and Staying Fit on the Road." And let's just say he's the first reader to follow his own advice.

What you might not have known: "People who drink diet sodas don't lose weight - in fact, they gain weight," the travel editor writes, explaining how he kicked a severe "Diet Pepsi habit" after learning that laboratory rats fed artificial sweeteners actually ate more than rats fed real sugar.


HEARD ENOUGH

Days after the national anthem was translated loosely into Spanish on a widely released album, we see where Rep. Jim Ryun, Kansas Republican, is seeking co-sponsors to legislation affirming that the musical composition be sung only in English.

As far as the congressman is concerned, there are a "few things specific to our nation that should not be recited or sung in another language."


SIGN OF THE TIMES

"American owners." - Sign with big letters posted in front of the Grape & Grain liquor store in Bridgeville, Del.


HER TURN

Mary Cheney's new memoir, "Now It's My Turn," was officially released this week, one highlight being that when she first told her dad, Vice President Dick Cheney, about her homosexuality, he calmly replied: "You're my daughter, and I love you, and I just want you to be happy."

We assume both Cheney and his wife, Lynne, will be on hand at The Palm on May 19 when a book party will be held in his daughter's honor.