Jamie Weinstein is a summer intern in the Capitol Hill office of Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.). He was delighted to secure a seat in the audience for the Monday (July 29) taping of CNN's "Crossfire," and even more impressed when he was invited to ask a question - which he directed to Paul Begala, the show's co-host and a Democratic campaign strategist who helped Bill Clinton find his way from Arkansas to Washington.
And what a question it was from the intern.
"Paul, my name is Jamie, from Palm Beach, Fla. I'm wondering if you ever get tired of being Clinton's lackey by putting a clean face on all his wrongdoings and scandals, Mr. Begala?"
"I'm wondering if you'd ever get tired of trashing the greatest president of my lifetime?" came the Democrat's response. "I will tell you what -- I would much rather have a guy who was in bed with a young girl than a guy who's in bed with Enron, and that's what we've got now. So we've just got a difference of opinion, brother. Thank you very much for your question."
BUILDING THE BULGE
More than 1 million men fought in the largest land battle of World War II. In scope and number of participants, no American engagement in history was more costly or massive. At its conclusion, 19,000 U.S. servicemen were killed and 62,000 wounded.
In fact, Winston Churchill called it "the greatest American battle of the war." And for good reason. The German failure at what became known as the Battle of the Bulge was a turning point for Hitler's forces, and on May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered.
Now, before marching out of Washington for its August recess, Congress has approved a bill authorizing the Army secretary to place within Arlington National Cemetery a worthy memorial that will honor the many U.S. servicemen who fought in the pivotal battle.
Currently, there is only a small, decaying plaque at the cemetery paying tribute to the soldiers.
Final Senate action is pending on the bill before it goes to the White House for President Bush's signature.
President Bush has been handed the rare privilege of conferring honorary citizenship of the United States - granted he can pronounce all the names.
Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier, also known as the Marquis de Lafayette, will soon be granted the honor. Congress has just approved a resolution to confer citizenship on Gen. Lafayette, an honor bestowed on only four other occasions in this nation's 226 years of independence.
The honorary citizenship measure was sent to the White House July 26 and awaits Bush's signature.
Lafayette, the resolution notes, voluntarily put forth his own money and risked his life for the freedom of Americans, and in so doing secured the help of France to aid in the colonists' fight against Britain.
Within a short time, through an act of Congress, Lafayette was voted to the rank of major general. During the Revolutionary War, he was wounded at the Battle of Brandywine, "demonstrating bravery that forever endeared him to American soldiers," Congress notes.
He was conferred honorary citizenship in both Virginia and Maryland, and he became the first foreign dignitary to address Congress upon his return to the United States in 1824. Upon his death, both the House and Senate draped their chambers in black.
It's worth noting that an American flag has flown over Lafayette's grave in France since his death and has never been removed, even when France was occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II.
CASE IN POINT
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was in the middle of answering a series of questions about prescription drugs - and what he sees as Republican attempts to dismantle the Medicare system - when this question was posed:
"Senator, what is your view of the dilemma that Mayor (Anthony) Williams of the District of Columbia is having in getting enough signatures to get a petition for re-election? You know the travail he's gone through, the muddle that he's in now. Does this show that there is concern about his ability to govern? I know others of your (Democratic) colleagues I've talked to off the record are very embarrassed and chagrined by it. What do you feel about it?"
Replied Daschle: "I think Mayor Williams needs prescription drugs."
It's attention that Georgia Republican Rep. Bob Barr was after, and he's received it - for "gooder" or worse.
Facing fellow Republican Rep. John Linder in a battle for Georgia's newly redrawn 7th Congressional District, Barr used a TV campaign commercial that depicts two ranchers standing in a green pasture. They discuss the fact that Georgia Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes "messed" everything up by pitting two Republicans against each other for the same seat.
One rancher concludes: "Linder's good, too. But Barr's just gooder."
Reaction on the Hill?
Georgia political insider Bill Shipp quotes University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock as saying the use of the word "gooder" will no doubt stick in people's minds. Which for Barr might not be such a good thing.
"The grammatical faux pas, complete with an accent not heard since the days of 'Hee Haw' will certainly catch the attention of viewers," observes columnist Matt Towery. "I'm afraid the Barr campaign may have failed to realize that suburban Republican primary voters often vote for the candidate who projects the image that the voters have of themselves. The voters in the new 7th are high-income and well educated. They might not appreciate the 'just gooder' image."
"It reminds me of a story here in southwest Virginia about a horse thief. And the jury goes through the whole case and they say, 'Not guilty, but you have to return the horse.' And he's not guilty, but you have to pay for those gifts." -- Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) after the Senate Select Committee on Ethics severely admonished Sen. Robert G. Torricelli (D-N.J.) for violating gift rules by receiving cash and other favors from David Chang, a former campaign supporter and convicted felon.
For several years now, this column has occasionally published thought-provoking political limericks penned by "F.R. Duplantier." Readers often ask about the limerist's background - some long suspecting this columnist was behind the verses.
Oh, to be so talented.
"Both my parents were journalists in New Orleans," Duplantier reveals. "My dad wrote for the States-Item; my mother was a photographer and feature writer for Dixie Roto, the old color supplement to the Times-Picayune. They were both Marines, too, my father serving with the occupation troops in Japan and my mother stationed in Honolulu during World War II.
"My wife, Evann, is a free-lance graphic artist and home-schooling mother of six. She's also the product of two press people. Her mother, who studied journalism under my father, was for many years director of university relations at Loyola New Orleans; her dad was a documentary film photographer for WWL-TV, the CBS affiliate in New Orleans. Our kids also have excellent art and writing skills, so it looks like we're establishing a communications dynasty."
As for the limerist himself, from 1995 to 2001 the modest Duplantier penned and produced "Behind The Headlines," a nationally-syndicated radio and newspaper commentary. Prior to that, he edited a news magazine, and way back in 1984 published his first collection of cartoons, titled "Only in New Orleans."
Then, in 2000, the presses pumped out "Politickles: Limericks Lampooning the Lunatic Left," many of which, we're proud to say, originally appeared in this column. (Duplantier's Web site, www.politickles.com, has a link for purchasing the book, plus archives and curiosities of various kinds.)