John McCaslin

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England noted before the Washington Capitals hockey game Wednesday night that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates remains "on injured reserve" after slipping on an icy path near his home and injuring his shoulder.

Otherwise, it was Military Appreciation Night at the Verizon Center, where the Capitals honored 5,000 service members and their families with free admission and hosted dozens of wounded warriors from U.S. military hospitals. Some 18,000 fans attended the Capitals-New York Islanders contest, and they all rose to their feet to give the deserving troops an extended standing ovation.

It was the sixth year that Capitals owner Ted Leonsis hosted the military. He pointed out before the game that his father, Louis T. Leonsis, came to America from Greece and spent seven years in the U.S. Navy, serving on the USS Bunker Hill. He died last September just shy of his 94th birthday.

"My father was an American first and foremost," Mr. Leonsis recalled. "We should never lose sight that our country is made up of individuals, and the men and women who serve our country really deserve our respect and our thanks, and this is our small way of doing it."

Gas problem

We bid welcome — and happy 100th birthday — to the National Governors Association and its respective members who are arriving in town for the organization's annual winter meeting, which will include dinner Sunday night with President Bush and first lady Laura Bush at the White House.

At the top of the governors' list of concerns is the price of gasoline. We checked yesterday and residents of Hawaii are paying $4.14 per gallon of gas, while drivers in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Pixley, Calif., are forking over $3.80 (this columnist paid $54 to fill up one of the smaller Jeep tanks yesterday).

The governors will seek some much-needed advice from energy experts at the J.W. Marriott hotel, although as Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin points out many have already "taken strong steps to create innovative energy initiatives in their states."

Note to Republicans

Talk about timely, this g entle reminder from George Washington was posted yesterday by the Republican Study Committee on Capitol Hill: "Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation. It is better to be alone than in bad company."

Burris' final act

Who knew it is not a federal crime to vandalize the grave of a member of the U.S. armed services buried in a private cemetery?

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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