Sticks and stones

John McCaslin
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Posted: Jul 03, 2002 12:00 AM
"Liberals don't have to emerge from the hot tub and start attending NASCAR races or - God forbid - church, but it would be nice if they'd stop lying all the time." -- Closing sentence in the uncorrected proof of conservative pundit Ann Coulter's new book, "Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right," that among other things accuses former Clinton-aides-turned-CNN-mouthpieces James Carville and Paul Begala of issuing a strategy memo last year to call President Bush names. BERNIE'S BEACH For one brief, shining moment, independent Rep. Bernard Sanders had a beach named in his honor. By a vote of 14 to 9, city councilors in Burlington, Vt., recently approved a plan to rename North Beach "Bernard Sanders Beach." But don't pack your trunks just yet. "Bernie Sanders Beach is no more," writes the Burlington Free Press, reporting that Burlington City Council members scrapped their own measure to rename North Beach after its former mayor-turned-lawmaker. Turns out Sanders, modest guy that he is, personally requested that the council forgo the honor. VERMONT VISTAS Farmers in Vermont say their barns need fixing and they want Uncle Sam - via the hand of infamous independent Sen. James M. Jeffords - to supply the nails and red paint. A Vermont historical preservation officer argues that 10,000 barns in the state need repair and Jeffords is using that as an excuse to fight for $25 million in funding for the National Historic Barn Preservation Act. Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), for one, is "booing" Jeffords for having slipped authorization for the barn-renovation proposal into the recently passed farm bill. "In a nutshell, this is what is wrong with the leadership in the Senate," says CAGW President Tom Schatz. "Here we are at war, in an economic malaise and facing deficits, and Senator Jeffords wants millions of dollars to spruce up old barns. Could this politician be any more detached from the nation's priorities?" ENDANGERED PEOPLE As of press time, 1,254 plants and animals were protected under this country's Endangered Species Act, while hundreds more were on the candidate list awaiting action. Now, Montana's lone congressman, Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, says if Uncle Sam isn't careful, human beings will be the next species listed. Rehberg is urging fellow lawmakers to implement "sound scientific" rules under the ESA, saying he's not against protecting the environment, he just doesn't want to wreak havoc on small family farmers and ranchers in the process. Over the years, Rehberg points out, the act has been applied across millions of acres and miles of waterways, costing billions of dollars, causing economic hardship "and at times, devastation to thousands of people." Proposed legislation in Congress would require "valid science" in identifying endangered species and implement "peer review" of federal agency decisions when species are added to the list. MUD SLINGING Barely a day goes by that mud doesn't coat the halls of Congress - even if one side has to dig really deep to muddy the other. Rep. Diane E. Watson (D-Calif.) recently proclaimed that President Bush had a low IQ - "of 88." "That tells you something," she said, insisting that a "shadow government" consisting of Bush's "father and the guy who calls himself the vice president" was actually making the decisions in this country. "The '88' certainly isn't making the decisions," she said. Well, we decided to check things out, and had to look no further than the Museum of Hoaxes - www.museumofhoaxes.com - which says the Bush IQ rumor began circulating last July upon fictitious word that the Lovenstein Institute (there is no such monster) of Scranton, Pa., had conducted research into the IQs of all presidents of the past 50 years. Dubya, or so the tale went, ranked at the very bottom with an IQ of 91. "This news quickly gained attention from the international media," notes the museum. "The London Guardian broke the story on July 19, and on August 26 Garry Trudeau featured the report in his Doonesbury comic strip. Unfortunately, both Trudeau and the Guardian had been taken in by a hoax. "In its original version, the joke was evident," adds the museum, given the Pennsylvania Court Observer was cited as its source, "but this paper was simultaneously described as having a circulation of only five readers." For the record, Watson made her blistering remarks about the president late last month, when Americans for Democratic Action, the nation's oldest liberal political organization, presented its Liberal Agenda for a Secure Nation at the group's annual national conference in Washington, D.C. OTHER TOP STORIES "OK, Charlie, I'll ask you, because you're one of them." -- House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) after being challenged repeatedly by Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) to "Ask the old folks! Ask the old folks!" about what effect proposed Republican legislation would have on senior citizens. For the record, Rangel is 72. Dreier turns 50 on Friday. BORN-AGAIN PATRIOTS Those Boomers bred on blame Have recovered from their shame: They fly the flag And do not gag On the Pledge they now proclaim. -- F.R. Duplantier