The Beltway Beat: Pass the Mayo

Posted: Mar 29, 2002 12:00 AM
If you didn't know, the federal government has changed its BMI (Body Mass Index, calculated from height and weight) standards. As a result, 30 million Americans overnight went from being government-approved to "overweight" or "obese." "Activist groups are using these new statistics to fuel their agenda for 'fat taxes' on snack foods and tobacco-style class-action lawsuits against restaurants," says Mike Burita, spokesman for the Center for Consumer Freedom, whose headquarters are just a block from the White House. "Some activists have gone so far as to compare Ronald McDonald to Joe Camel." And if Uncle Sam declaring a war on fatty foods isn't enough, the surgeon general in recent days warned that an "obesity epidemic" threatens public health, allowing the activist groups a more solid basis for proposing "Twinkie taxes" on sodas, snack foods and restaurant meals. How do people find out if they are officially overweight? Burita has posted a "Does the Government Think You're Fat?" test on the consumer center's Web site, On Tuesday, this seemingly fit-and-trim columnist, who regularly works out in a gym and runs several miles every other day, took the test. To my surprise, not only was I declared "overweight" by the government guardians but I'm approaching "obese." Not to worry. Michael Jordan and Cal Ripken Jr. are also officially overweight, according to Uncle Sam, while Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe are obese. "We just checked out height and weights of the Final Four (college basketball) players and found 16 to be in the 'overweight' category," says Burita. HEARTLESS PROFITEERS Days after Rep. Mark Foley told us that the General Accounting Office accepted his request to conduct an investigation involving recent cases of desecration at cemeteries and crematoriums in Georgia and Florida, he's now asking that the inquiry be expanded to Hawaii. It's been brought to the Florida Republican's attention that Memorial Mortuary, a Hawaii-based funeral-services provider, has been accused of selling mourners caskets and then burying their loved ones in plastic bags. "Buried in bags like yesterday's trash," Foley observes. "The heartless profiteers responsible have not only desecrated human bodies, they have perverted the very essence of morality and decency." SAD CLOWN A senior congressional aide says that news reports that biologically decontaminated mail being delivered to offices in the U.S. Capitol is only "two weeks" behind schedule is a "crock of anthrax." "Let's go over today's mail that I have received," says the aide, who requested anonymity. -- An invitation from the Society of American Florists postmarked January 30 for its annual reception held two weeks ago. -- A Cato Institute invitation postmarked Jan. 22 to a Feb. 5 book forum on global trade. -- A
Heritage Foundation position paper on India and Pakistan postmarked Jan 25. -- The Feb. 4 "Notable Quotables" from the Media Research Center. "The mail we get looks like it's really been through the ringer," adds the aide. "You've read reports of how bad it is - brittle, singed, etc. But you can't imagine it until you see it. Our mail looks like it's been dropped in the toilet and dried in an oven." In addition, congressional offices still cannot receive FedEx or other overnight packages, nor anything via courier. "In fact," says the aide, "I just witnessed last week as I was walking into the Rayburn Building a guy from Ringling Brothers being turned away because he had one envelope with him. He was asked by Capitol Police, 'Sir, are you dropping that envelope off?' and when he replied yes - they were circus tickets and were expected - the officer denied him entry." DADDY'S REVENGE In the wake of public backlash from criticisms of President Bush's leadership of America's war effort, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle recently joined with Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott in passing a resolution declaring the Senate "stands united with the president in the ongoing effort to destroy al Qaeda." Now if Daschle, D-S.D., could only persuade House Minority Leader Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo., and fellow Democrats on the House side to stand behind the U.S. war effort. "Our colleague (Democrat Rep.) Tom Allen of Maine has now written two letters justifying these criticisms (of the anti-terror war effort) as a constitutional responsibility on the part of Congress to demand a full airing and discussion of the commander in chief's views on the goals, conduct, progress and exit strategy of the war," says Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga. "Further, he resents the implication that congressional oversight of the deployment of U.S. troops is somehow divisive and partisan." Which causes Barr to wonder how some define the words "divisive" and "partisan" - particularly a California Democrat who recently initiated a bitter attack on Bush's conduct thus far in the war. "Some of us, maybe foolishly, gave this president the authority to go after the terrorists. We didn't know that he too was gonna go crazy with it," Rep. Maxine Waters, D Calif., reportedly told a forum at the University of Southern California. "Now we know he has a problem with Saddam Hussein. We know that. We know that he's got to take revenge for what Saddam did to his daddy." BUSH BACKING Earlier this week, we told you about the left-wing coalition - including such groups as the Communist Party USA - planning an April 20 anti-war protest in Washington. Now, flag-waving supporters of America's war against terrorism are gearing up for their own demonstration on the same day. "Freepers" from the D.C. Chapter of Free Republic have announced a Patriots' Rally for America - - "a family-friendly event to show support for America and for the men and women of our armed forces." The pro-America rally will start at 11 a.m. at the northwest quadrant of the Washington Monument grounds near the intersection of 17th St. and Constitution Ave. NW. "We are asking those who attend the rally to bring American flags, large and small, and signs with messages supporting America and our troops," organizers say. "This will be a great opportunity to peacefully counter the anti-war rally and march being held the same day ... by the usual collection of America-hating communist/leftist/anarchist groups." BUFFALO STAMPEDE Speaking of protests, a buffalo stampede on Washington is set for next Thursday (April 4), with activists from the Buffalo Field Campaign, Fund for Animals, the Endangered Species Coalition and the Humane Society converging here to protest the ongoing "slaughter" of Yellowstone bison, the nation's largest wild-buffalo herd. Bison living in and around Yellowstone are descendants of a small herd that survived slaughter from the mid- to late-1800s. Since 1985, 3,200 of the buffalo have been shot to protect the livestock industry. The stampede will begin at high noon at the Department of Agriculture.