Political Scrapbook

Posted: Jun 09, 2001 12:00 AM
CHASING CLINTON Bill Clinton is lucky he's not a kid growing up today, or he'd wind up in jail for playing one of his favorite childhood "games." "I should confess . . . I used to play one not-so-nice game," Clinton recalls in the soon-to-be-published Simon & Schuster book "The Games We Played: A Celebration of Childhood and Imagination," edited by former Clinton press aide Steven A. Cohen. "We had two huge oak trees in my front yard, one of which had a lot of hedges around it. It was perfect for hiding," Clinton begins. "Right in front of my house was a thoroughfare, Park Avenue. We would wait for the cars to go by and try to hit the hubcaps with our acorns. "We never tried to hit the cars -- anybody could hit a car going by," the nation's 42nd president stresses. "The idea was to hit the hubcap, because it made the loudest, most delicious sound. Although sometimes if a pickup went by, we'd try to land the acorn in the back of the pickup. But we never wanted to hit a windshield or do any damage. "But one time we hit a guy's hubcap and it sounded like the world was coming to an end -- BONG! The guy put on his brakes, stopped the car, and pulled over. He came racing up on our yard and we ran and ran. Thank goodness nobody was home to beef to. Both my folks worked." NOT A GOOD START Minutes after Environmental Protection Agency chief Christie Whitman issued a memorandum Tuesday that "requires" the entire EPA staff to attend Information Security Awareness Training -- saying "every employee must be aware of his or her responsibility for ensuring information security (and) the threats associated with electronic communication and computer usage" -- an EPA official electronically leaked it to this column. JUST THE FACTS How much tax money are we really getting back from Uncle Sam? Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist has a nifty device available on his Web site (www.atr.org) that calculates, on an individual basis, one's expected tax cut once the tax-cut bill is signed into law by President Bush. If one provides general information, like one's tax bracket and marital status, the calculator will estimate one's actual savings under the much ballyhooed -- and controversial -- tax-relief package. BUSH SUITS It didn't take long -- barely four months into the new administration -- for several unions and one federally funded corporation to file suit against two Bush Cabinet members, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. The suit, which seeks to prevent unionized employees of federal contractors from learning about their rights to be nonmembers and reclaim forced union dues spent on politics, is likely to raise many eyebrows. After all, says National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason, "the same unions that have long claimed to be defenders of workplace rights are now suing to prevent employees from learning about workplace rights." The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia without fanfare last month by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, the UAW-Labor Employment and Training Corporation, and two affiliates of the Office and Professional Employees International Union. A case won by National Right to Work attorneys in 1988 established that employees cannot be compelled to formally join a union or pay dues spent for politics or any other activities unrelated to collective bargaining. Those same attorneys are now preparing to intervene on behalf of workers who've been "lied to or outright threatened by unions, including UAW officials," when they've tried reclaiming forced dues spent on electioneering. LOTT WISHED "Just another day at the office." -- Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) when asked Wednesday by a reporter, what's new? HORSE AND PIG "I played all the boys' games because I was kind of a tomboy," recalls Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the soon-to-be-published Simon & Schuster book "The Games We Played: A Celebration of Childhood and Imagination," edited by Mrs. Clinton's former White House deputy communications director, Steven A. Cohen. Mrs. Clinton says there were very few girls growing up in her Park Ridge, Ill., neighborhood, so she was forced to put aside dolls and dresses and play "baseball," "hockey," "horse and pig" and "one-on-one basketball" with the boys. "I had a lot of interest in playing because I could play well enough to play with the boys," says the former first lady, who history has shown never lost the ability to play with the biggest of boys. HAVE WE MET? Look no farther than the hallowed halls of Congress to see why Washington, D.C., has been ranked as the best place in the United States to live the single life. And no, this has nothing to do with Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy. Instead, Forbes.com, in putting together its first annual guide to the best places to be single, took a data-driven approach: gathering stats on the number of other singles, cultural activities and nightclubs, job growth and cost of living "based on apartment rents, the cost of pizza, movie tickets and a six-pack of Heineken." Then there's the politics. "D.C. is still the place to make career connections, where internships become apprenticeships in the corridors of power. Budding politicos fresh out of Georgetown head for employment on Capitol Hill or with lobbyists and law firms," says Forbes, which doesn't forget the surrounding region. "High-tech companies in the Virginia suburbs, which spawned America Online, continue to drive job growth and . . . throughout the sprawling D.C. area, which encompasses Maryland as well as Virginia, nearly everyone is from somewhere else originally, which makes it tough to be lonely even if you are pulling 14-hour days at the office." BANKING ON BUSH Taking a swipe at President Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney's controversial tax-cut package -- plus their ties to the oil industry -- the Democratic National Committee is telling Americans to "put your tax cut to work." "George Bush knows your meager tax cut will be used to pay off the rising cost of energy prices. But there is a better way to use your tax cut to offset the rising cost of energy," says the DNC. "Make a symbolic 'tax cut' contribution to the DNC today dedicated to kicking the Republicans and their 'big oil' administration out of office." For each single contribution, the DNC will send a postcard to Bush at the White House "telling him so." RISEN TENT Just over a year ago, then-Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush -- calling himself a "compassionate conservative" who supported a "big tent" Republican Party -- sat down in Austin to hear the concerns of homosexual Republicans, including former Rep. Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin. Afterward, Gunderson said the meeting "was clearly eye-opening" for Bush, adding that never again "will a major-party candidate be able to run for president without addressing gay and lesbian issues." Wednesday, at the Department of Transportation, Gunderson was guest speaker for an "Embrace Diversity" ceremony celebrating National Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta encouraged "everyone at the department to participate in the planned events to celebrate the contributions that gays and lesbians have made -- and continue to make -- to the department and the nation."