Posted: Jun 14, 2001 12:00 AM
President Bush has arrived -- once again -- in Europe. We stress again because it was incorrectly repeated by reporters last week that Bush had never set foot on European soil. In fact, Bush once plowed the sod of Scotland, his acquaintance with the land of Robert Burns, heather, mist and malt whiskey brought to this column's attention by our knowledgeable British correspondent, Maggie Hall, who lives on Capitol Hill. Maggie was first alerted to the widely held belief that Bush had never crossed the Atlantic when, in early April, our new president welcomed Scottish First Minister Henry McLeish to the White House. A snippet from their Oval Office meeting revealed that Bush told McLeish how much he'd enjoyed visiting Scotland. Turns out that in 1959, 13-year-old George was dispatched to Perthshire to spend the summer with the Gammell clan on their estate in Glen Isla. The two families had been friends since the Gammells, who owned an investment bank in Edinburgh, became early investors in a fledgling oil business started by the elder George Bush. Certainly, young George didn't forget the friendship he forged with one of the Gammell children, Bill, who like him went into the oil business. In fact, Bush reportedly attended Gammell's wedding in Glasgow in 1993. TAYLOR'S NEW SUIT We're told that Lonnie P. Taylor, one of Washington's most influential black lobbyists -- who is being forced out of his post as senior vice president for congressional affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- is pursuing a wrongful termination lawsuit. Taylor, sources say, is pointing to "political differences" between him and chamber President Thomas Donohue as being key to his dismissal. "It got to be a daily confrontational thing" between Donohue and Taylor, one chamber official says, particularly regarding the latter's "unbridled support for Republicans." Taylor had worked in the previous Bush administration. The source cited as one example Taylor's unsuccessful attempt last month to organize a chamber appearance by Vice President Richard B. Cheney centering on President Bush's controversial energy plan. The same source quoted Taylor as saying, "It was politically expedient (for the chamber) to cut me out at this stage." Donohue had "no comment," however Linda Rozett, chamber vice president for media relations, says any wrongful dismissal charge by Taylor is news to the chamber. TOP PRIORITY How much clout does senior Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.V.) -- and his secretary, for that matter -- exert over the federal government? You be the judge. This column has obtained copy of a grant issued by the Federal Railroad Administration, an agency of the Department of Transportation, announcing a three-year, $3.2 million award to CSX Transportation Inc. (CSX Railroad) for a project congressionally earmarked by Byrd to upgrade track, signals and passenger-station facilities for the MARC Brunswick commuter rail line between Harpers Ferry and Martinsburg, both in West Virginia. And just in case any bureaucrats question the importance of these railroad upgrades, in parentheses above the signature of the federal contracting/grants officer, Robert L. Carpenter, it was typed: "Congressional interest expressed by: Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia (His secretary commutes daily from WV on this rail line)." IVORY AND WOOD A Rolling Stone addressing the Farm Bill? Quirky as that sounds, Chuck Leavell, one of the world's most acclaimed rock/blues pianists, who has tickled the ivories on seven Rolling Stones albums and five world tours, three Eric Clapton albums (including the Grammy award-winning "Unplugged"), not to mention five albums with the Allman Brothers Band, now is considered one of the nation's leading tree farmers. Tuesday, he was called to appear before a House Agriculture subcommittee soliciting views on how the farm bill should deal with sustainable forestry. Many see this as a major opportunity to substantially reorient federal conservation policy toward private landowners. Leavell, who runs a tree-farming enterprise in central Georgia, has twice been crowned Georgia Tree Farmer of the Year, and in 1999 was named National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year. AL OF GORE "Everything about the Bush presidency struck me as being ripe for a Shakespearean drama," says playwright Tim Ryan, drawing inspiration from such classics as "Henry V," "Hamlet," "King Lear" and "Richard III" to pen a full-length Shakespearean parody covering President Bush's first 100 days in office. "The History of King George II, Part One" begins with Bush at his coronation in a very divided kingdom (after a battle in which his rival, Prince Al of Gore, has met with narrow defeat) and follows his reign through a near-war with China. "You could compare Bush with Prince Hal, whom many didn't take seriously when he first came to fill the throne left to him by his father," observes Ryan. "In other ways, he's closer to Richard the Second, whom many saw as a weak and ineffectual leader." Democrats also get their share of the satiric needle. Ryan says he used Shakespeare's drunken and lecherous Falstaff as the model for the deposed "King William of Clinton." One can read all about King William and Prince Al over the political humor Web site Latest Sedition (www.latestsedition.com), which marked its first 100 days in the same week as the Bush administration.
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