Political Scrapbook

Posted: May 25, 2001 12:00 AM
MUSICAL CHAIRS "For those of you visiting from the East Coast, the band does not take regularly scheduled breaks. It just waits for the rolling blackouts." -- Announcement made at Sunday's wedding ceremony of Ed and Lisa Maass in Sonoma, Calif. BUSH PETROLEUM Democrats, meanwhile, blame President Bush for skyrocketing gasoline prices, averaging $2.50 a gallon where we filled our tank on a visit to California. Here in Washington, the Democratic National Committee has gone so far as to open a Web site - GrandOldPetroleum.com - which it says unshrouds the faces of "Big Oil" within the Bush-Cheney administration. DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe (who, for the record, is seen cruising the crowded streets of Washington in an expensive 4-wheel drive gas guzzler, sporting vanity tags that read "DNC") says the site calls attention to how Mr. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney, both former Texas oilmen, "supported higher gas prices throughout their careers" because higher fuel bills meant record profits for Big Oil. "The $100 billion in economic stimulus Bush is proposing for next year could be swamped by as much as $130 billion in higher gas prices," warns McAuliffe. "So all the money you supposedly save with the tax cut goes right into the pockets of the oil companies." READ MY LIPS Talk about mixing politics with arsenic. "I regret doing that," NuElectric Corp. CEO Howard Scala now tells this column of his company's stock "buy alert," which sensationalizes President Bush's decision to suspend, pending further review, President Clinton's order lowering levels of arsenic in drinking water. The Florida-based company, which claims to own exclusive license to a technology capable of removing arsenic from water, wrote in a recent stock (trading under the symbol NRGE) alert: "Thanks to President Bush, the dangerous level of arsenic in our drinking water has become a major issue. In a stunning reversal of their March position, the Bush administration announced on April 19th that they favored a substantial reduction in the arsenic standards, which will trigger billions of dollars in spending. "One beneficiary of this boom will be NuElectric Corporation, a pollution-control company with a patented process for safe arsenic removal. Timing is everything with low-priced stocks, and we believe there is a real buying opportunity for NRGE . . ." In a telephone interview Tuesday, Scala said in retrospect that he shouldn't have injected Bush's ruling into his company stock portfolio but stressed that his motive was not political. "Arsenic is on everyone's lips," he reasoned. YOLK TALE Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) addressed the Nuclear Energy Institute Assembly in Washington Tuesday, saying the nation's current energy situation began with the egg. The congressman told the story of a lady who walked into a Cajun country store to buy eggs and was told the price was "two dollars a dozen." "That's awfully high," she told the storeowner. "Sorry," he replied, "but that's what we sell them for." "Well, you know," she said, "across the street they sell them for a dollar a dozen." "Well," he said, "why don't you go over there and buy them?" "I can't," she said, "they're out." "Well," said the store owner, "when I'm out I sell them for a dollar a dozen, too." WHIPPING TIME Republican Sen. James M. Jeffords, who returned to Vermont Thursday to explain why he's abandoning his party and handing control of the Senate to the Democrats, had better not show up in the town of Kirby. Back in 1995, as this column reported, Kirby Republican Town Caucus Chairman John McClaughry and his Republican cohorts were so angered by Jeffords' liberal voting record that they passed this horrifying resolution: "And whereas, James M. Jeffords deserves to be horsewhipped and thrown forever out of public office; therefore, be it RESOLVED, that horsewhipping now being illegal, the Republicans of the Town of Kirby will do anything arguably legal or unlikely to be discovered to retire James M. Jeffords from public life." NANNY RENO Thanks to Greg Knapp, host of "The Greg Knapp Show" (a political news talk program on WSKY-FM in Gainesville, Fla.), for sending this column the results of a contest to select the best campaign slogan for Janet Reno, should the former attorney general decide to run for governor of Florida. Unfortunately, we're unable to publish the majority of his listeners' political opinions (obviously, Republican emotions run higher in the Sunshine State than they do here in Washington, which isn't a bad thing. We're just not accustomed to Republicans displaying emotion up here). That said, here are a few of the kinder, gentler slogans suggested by Knapp's listeners: Reno: When You Can't Handle the Truth Honk if You Love Janet (for Palm Beach drivers, that's the button in the middle of the steering wheel) Reno: She'll Get the Kids Out of Your House