John McCaslin

A primary reason for David Naylor-Leyland's first-ever trip to Washington was to host a luncheon this week showcasing his luxurious Dukes Hotel, in the heart of London between Mayfair and Green Park.

The other, strangely enough, was to visit his great-great-grandfather Frederick R. Leyland's London dining room - otherwise known as James Whistler's Peacock Room - which in 1919 was transported here and reconstructed in the new Freer Gallery of Art.

"It was a rather marvelous and emotional thing for me to see," Naylor-Leyland tells The Beltway Beat, referring not only to the lavishly decorated dining room - an expensive leather interior that Whistler painted over with paintings of peacock feathers (needless to say, Leyland, a wealthy ship owner, was not amused, and a rift ensued between the two) - but also to portraits he saw for the first time yesterday of his family, including a Whistler portrait of Leyland completed in 1873.

And did Mr. Naylor-Leland notice any resemblance to his distant relative?

"Fun enough, I thought my cousin and father looked like him," answered the Englishman.

Before he went into the hotel business, Naylor-Leland was a jockey, riding 80 winners in European point-to-points and under National Hunt Rules. In 1989, he rode in the Grand National, but shortly after his last race in 1990, he broke his neck while hunting.

He now plays golf.


As we have pointed out previously, Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Republican, made a name for himself as a straight-talking, no-nonsense felony court judge in Houston, most famous for his "shame punishment" of criminals.

Now, the freshman lawmaker has voiced some of the strongest words yet in this country's immigration debate.

"Mr. Speaker, the United States is under attack," Poe declared in recent days. "And like Dec. 7, 1941, we are asleep on a Sunday morning. . . . We are being invaded, we are being colonized, and there are insurgents from the nation of Mexico and their allies further south."

Furthermore, leading the charge of those who "want Mexico to occupy this entire land," he charged, is Mexican President Vicente Fox, a longtime ally of President Bush. "And it is obvious from the actions from Generalissimo Fox in Mexico that this is his intention."

Among other examples, he drew attention to the Mexican government furnishing Spanish-language books to school districts in Los Angeles. "And in those books they teach that this land, Los Angeles, still belongs to Mexico," Poe charged.

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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