John McCaslin

"The most impossible idea that you will hear during your time here … is the one that puts trust and respect in our government."

— Lawrence Lessig, professor of law at Stanford Law School and founder of the school's Center for Internet and Society, speaking at this week's opening ceremonies of the 2008 Aspen Ideas Festival.

ODD MAN OUT

Being a bodyguard to visiting Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas carries its privileges almost all would agree.

We spotted the foreign head of state happily dining on sweet-and-sour rib salad and baked grouper this week at Teatro Goldoni on K Street under the watchful eye, or so we learned later, of six bodyguards inconspicuously doing the same throughout the dining room. A seventh member of the protective detail drew the short straw and posted himself out front.

Mr. Kirkilas was in town, in part, to present Heritage Foundation distinguished fellow Lee Edwards, the force behind of the new Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, with the prestigious Lithuanian Millennium Star.

PASSED MUSTER

It is the duty of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, to keep federal agencies and their employees productive, accountable and as squeaky-clean as humanly possible. So who is the watchdog of the GAO?

We're told not one, but two separate independent peer reviews — a team of international auditors from Canada, Australia, Britain and the Netherlands, and one of this country's leading accounting firms, KPMG — has just awarded the GAO "clean opinions" on the same quality-assurance systems that the agency uses to produce its reports and testimony to Congress.

"GAO is known for providing lawmakers and agency heads with timely, reliable information on government operations. The two peer reviews confirm that this reputation is well-deserved," reacts Gene L. Dodaro, acting comptroller general.

The international and KPMG reviews respectively lasted seven and four months, and similar to the GAO's own investigative teams, each made frequent visits to the agency to interview staff and study audit products.

IT'S COLD UP HERE

Former Vice President Al Gore won't be happy to learn that one Nobel Prize winner for physics doesn't buy into global warming.

"I am a skeptic," Norway's Ivar Giaever said when asked how the world should tackle climate change.

"First of all, I didn't want to be on this panel," he's quoted by the Web-based Reference Frame, motls.blogspot.com, as saying. "Second of all, I am a skeptic. Third of all, if I am Norwegian, should I really worry about a little bit of warming?


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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