Bloopers and Bells

John McCaslin
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Posted: Jun 14, 2007 9:16 AM
Bloopers and Bells

Happy anniversary

Considering the two Democratic House leaders were equated a few short months ago to an "unhappy married couple," it was quite gentlemanly of House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland to lead the voices in commending House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her 20th anniversary in Congress.

The silver-haired Mr. Hoyer described Mrs. Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House, as a "true leader" working hard to move the nation in a new direction, "and I am proud to call her my friend."

Shortly after the Democrats had taken control of Congress, Mrs. Pelosi and the more moderate Mr. Hoyer publicly aired their several differences, particularly on her call for an early U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Republican heat

So what do the Iraq war and climate change have in common?

For that answer, we turn to former Vice President Al Gore, speaking yesterday on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: "What the climate crisis and Iraq have in common is that in both cases Republican policies were badly mistaken, and in both cases there was overwhelming evidence to convince any reasonable person ahead of time that we should have done the exact opposite of what we did."

Blooper squad

Saying it "posts video regularly on YouTube," the Democratic National Committee yesterday appealed for Americans to grab their camcorders and send any and all Republican presidential "campaign gaffes" to its Washington headquarters.

"Just remember what happened during the 2006 campaign when former Sen. George Allen, a Republican from Virginia, called a young man by a racial slur -- and got caught on tape," says the DNC's Internet team. "Within a matter of hours, the episode spread through the Internet to Virginia voters, who started asking new questions about Allen's character and leadership.

"Senator Jim Webb defeated Allen by 8,000 votes -- and the Democratic Party took back the Senate. That's one example," says the DNC. "You can bet that during the 2008 campaign there will be plenty more examples of this behavior -- not to mention shameless misinformation, outright lies and blatant fear-mongering."

Western bloopers

To coincide with the National Archives exhibit on the education of U.S. presidents, an array of public events are highlighting the various aspects of presidential lives.

For example, Ronald Reagan's personal diaries were discussed last week by a panel that included former Attorney General Edwin Meese III and ABC newsman Sam Donaldson. So why, at 11 a.m. tomorrow and again at noon on Saturday, is John Wayne's classic movie "Stagecoach" being screened at Archives' William G. McGowan Theater?

It so happens that Archives is featuring "presidential film favorites" through Jan. 1, when the exhibit closes, and Mr. Wayne, by no surprise, was a favorite actor of Lyndon B. Johnson's. The 1939 movie, nominated for seven Academy Awards and directed by John Ford, charts a dramatic journey through Apache territory, where nine diverse stage passengers try to avoid a run-in with Geronimo and his men.

What this columnist enjoys most about "Stagecoach," however, is spotting its many "goofs." For example, in the opening scene, just as the stage rolls into town, it is quite obvious that no structures are behind the building facades. And in another take, the characters are chatting on a porch about an Indian massacre that had just taken place, when suddenly in the valley behind them a car drives right through the middle of the Western.

Let them ring

President Bush is being asked to return a pair of church bells -- on display in Wyoming for more than a century -- to the people of the Philippines.

Legislation introduced by Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat, urges the president to authorize the return of the two bells to the church parishioners of Balangiga. The bells are currently on display at F.E. Warren Air Force Base.

How did they ever wind up at a military base in Wyoming?

"It was a result of a conflict, between Filipino and American soldiers in 1901 in the town of Balangiga on the island of Samar, Philippines, that the bells in the Balangiga church were taken to the United States as war trophies," Mr. Filner explains.

He also observes that Balangiga's residents have erected a memorial of Philippine and American war dead from the 1901 incident, all of whom are honored by the town every Sept. 28.

"Filipino people have requested the return of the bells to the original setting in the Balangiga parish where they could ring again, after 106 years of muteness, as a symbol of this bond," Mr. Filner says.

He points out that Philippine soldiers have fought alongside American troops in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Philippine troops withdrew from Iraq after one of their countrymen was taken hostage.