John McCaslin

Order Chinese

As the old saying goes, "If you can't find your senator or congressman on Capitol Hill, check The Palm."

For 35 years, the popular restaurant on 19th Street NW has been playing host to Washington's leading power brokers. Now, for the first time since Richard M. Nixon ruled the roost, the downtown landmark is about to get a much-needed (although not everybody agrees) face-lift.

The barricades will go up and the awning will come down Aug. 1, and when the restaurant reopens on Sept. 16 it will have a "refreshed interior, featuring a glass-enclosed veranda, an expanded dining room, and a larger bar with 'power' booths."

So where's a politico to grab a power lunch in the interim?

"That's a good question," Tommy Jacomo, who with his brother Ray helped build the Palm in 1972, told Inside the Beltway yesterday. "I hope they all do carry-out."

Why wait?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky recalled an intriguing anecdote yesterday about Lady Bird Johnson, the widow of former President Lyndon B. Johnson who died Wednesday in Texas at age 94.

"When Lady Bird Taylor met the man she would marry in the fall of 1934, her first reaction was to pull back," recalled Mr. McConnell, quoting Mrs. Johnson as saying, "Lyndon came on very strong. My instinct was to withdraw."

Which isn't the least bit surprising.

After all, as the senator pointed out, "He asked her to marry him on their first date."

Deploy Gore

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski this week drew attention to yet another crisis to strike Iraq: global warming.

"It is almost 10:30 in the morning in Washington. It is 6:30 in the evening in Baghdad. Yesterday, in Washington it was 98 degrees, and everybody was complaining about the heat wave. They couldn't wait until they got into air-conditioning.

"Well, it was 115 degrees in Baghdad and, boy, would I like to get our troops in air-conditioning — in air-conditioning back home," says the Maryland Democrat, who says she checks the temperature "every single day in Baghdad."

Loud silence

Did you hear about the two North Dakota farmers who filed a lawsuit last month in U.S. District Court so that they can start hemp farming in their state without fear of federal prosecution under the Controlled Substances Act?

Last February, the pair of farmers — state Rep. David Monson and Wayne Hauge — were issued state licenses to grow industrial hemp from North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson. But when the growers applied for a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) permit to import and grow the seeds, they were met with silence.

And that's what concerns them.


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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