McCaslin's Beltway Beat

Posted: Aug 09, 2001 12:00 AM
PRESERVING FREEDOM What's become of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? The Charters of Freedom, as this country's treasured parchment (animal skin) relics are known, have been transferred -- by police escort in an air-ride vehicle -- from an underground vault at the National Archives Building to a temporary vault in suburban Maryland, where for the next two years they will undergo microscopic examination, humidification, mending, flattening and cleaning. NOT MARTHA'S VINEYARD August is normally hot in Texas. Real hot. Unbearably hot. And dusty. "I don't mean to sound sarcastic when I ask this," a reporter told White House spokesman Ari Fleischer before President Bush departed for a month-long stay at his Texas ranch. "Why does the president like to go out to his ranch for the whole month of August?" "Will you be there?" Fleischer inquired. "Yeah, I will," replied the reporter. "Well, that's why." SMUT BOOKS The National Archives still isn't finished binding President Clinton. Archivist of the United States John W. Carlin announces that the second of two volumes of the "Public Papers of President William J. Clinton, 1999" is now complete and available for sale at $75. The 1,376-page hardcover volume contains texts of Clinton's public statements, speeches, news conferences and communications to Congress. Still, collectors of presidential memorabilia should be reminded that the 1999 Clinton papers aren't nearly as extraordinary or valuable as the volumes the president presented us with in 1998 -- an unprecedented year of presidential history that began with, "I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," and ended with, "I'm trying to be honest with you and it hurts." WHERE'S SUMMER "Another cooler year, how inconvenient," reacts Christopher Horner, counsel to the Cooler Heads Coalition, a Washington-based lobby that doesn't buy into the global-warming theory. He's referring to what's been front-page news in Southern California, a normally balmy destination that has avoided the "apocalyptic" season of high temperatures and resulting rolling blackouts that many predicted. Temperatures in the region are at their lowest levels in a decade, according to the National Weather Service. In July in downtown Los Angeles, this average temperature of 71 degrees was 3 degrees below normal. "It's the coolest since 1991," meteorologist Bruce Rockwell said, so cold that beach-goers have bundled themselves in blankets. It's also been cooler than normal in Washington and other cities up and down the Eastern seaboard, which are usually sweltering in heat and humidity by this time of year. If you want heat this summer, go to Chicago. Or Texas. DOG DAYS HUMOR The group Conservative Action is taking credit for the green-and-yellow "Condit for President" flyers posted on Capitol Hill. The prank campaign posters contain actual endorsements of sorts from Democratic House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt and, wouldn't you know, two Republicans -- Reps. Jack Kingston of Georgia and Christopher Shays of Connecticut. The latter declared just after the Gary A. Condit-Chandra Levy scandal unfolded: "He's a great man, and I love the guy!" That isn't nearly as bad as Kingston's premature endorsement: "He's an honorable man." PATHETICALLY POPULAR Number of visitors since April (when Chandra Levy was first reported missing) to California Democratic Rep. Gary A. Condit's official congressional Web site: 359,892. Number of visitors during the same period to California Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's Web site: 94,207. HILL RAISING Dan Quayle's back on Capitol Hill. The 44th vice president of the United States Monday joined the 42nd vice president, Walter F. Mondale, as an honorary board member of the Fund for the Capitol Visitor Center, a long-overdue museum and tourist facility. The center will be the largest addition to the U.S. Capitol since before the Civil War. It's needed because the Capitol was never designed to host the more than 4 million visitors that pass through it every year, which has resulted in terribly long lines of people waiting outdoors in the elements. As for the former vice presidents, Quayle is keeping busy these days in the investment banking and international consulting arena. Mondale is chairman of Dorsey & Whitney's Asia Law Practice Group. PRACTICALLY FULL Arlington National Cemetery is projected to run out of in-ground burial space for veterans in the year 2025 unless additional property is provided. The House Armed Services Committee recommends expanding the hallowed graveyard just across the Potomac River in Virginia, once the property of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, into areas adjacent to the current cemetery boundaries. The expansion, says the committee, would ensure the availability of burial space at Arlington through 2060.