Alfred A. Knopf, which is forking over a record amount of dough - $12 million, reportedly - to publish Bill Clinton's memoirs, is also gearing up to publish an unauthorized biography of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, written by Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein.
"It's going well; we're down to the last stages" of writing the book, Bernstein tells this column in a phone interview from New York. The unsanctioned look into the life and career of Sen. Clinton (D-N.Y.) will be published in 2003.
"Hillary Clinton is very well known, but very little is known about her," Bernstein says, suggesting that he might have a page-turner on his hands. But that's as far as he'll go.
"One thing Bob (Woodward) and I learned long ago," he says, "is that you don't talk about things until they come out."
It will be interesting to see whether Sen. Clinton can publish her own memoirs before Bernstein's book is released. She is reportedly being paid upwards of $8.5 million by Simon & Schuster for her personal reflections. Sen. Clinton's book is due for release this spring, with no exact date set.
As for Bill Clinton's "candid" memoirs, they were due for publication next year, but, as this column reported earlier this month, the notoriously tardy former commander in chief appears to be running late again.
"It's not scheduled for publication as of right now," said Paul Bogaards, executive director of Knopf.
Yes, Virginia, there is more to life than politics.
Joshua Gilder, former White House speechwriter for President Reagan, who wrote the famous "Go ahead, make my day" speech, among other memorable scripts, has written his first novel that has nothing to do with domestic or foreign affairs.
Rather, Gilder, co-founder of a Washington consulting firm, titles his crime thriller "Ghost Image" (Simon & Schuster), taking readers inside the operating room and under the skin of his characters. Politics or not, the Library Journal calls the book a "gripping debut by a former presidential speechwriter."
SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE
Regarding the startling Census Bureau revelation this week that there are more than 21 million immigrants living in the United States who speak English "less than very well" and the fact that our elected officials not only aren't concerned but are "accommodating" foreign-tongued arrivals with bilingual ballot cards, reader Bob Emmrich, of Cincinnati, observes:
"I get a U.S. Senate calendar each year from my friend in (Kentucky Republican Sen.) Jim Bunning's office. Every day has a short anecdotal story relative to that date. On Friday, Nov. 22, this year's note says: 'The Boston Gazette published a story (in 1802) noting that the rise in immigration appears to correspond with a rise in Democratic votes.'"
The ascension of newly elected House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was applauded by Bob Weir, formerly of the Grateful Dead, during a Friday concert in Washington.
"I wasn't surprised to hear Nancy Pelosi welcomed (to the House) by Bob Weir," says Washington public relations mogul Adam Dubitsky, who attended the show. "If we need any other indication that the Democrats think Haight-Ashbury is 'Middle America,' that was it.
"You could almost hear an off-camera reporter shouting to her after her election last week, 'Nancy, you just won the minority leader position. What are you going to do now?' To which she might have responded, 'I'm going to go see a Dead show!'"
Actually, you might be right, Adam.
"She's a big fan" of the Dead, says Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly.
Earlier this year in Washington, Weir and fellow Grateful Dead band member Mickey Hart joined musician Steve Miller to celebrate "a significant bit of American political history" - or so we read in Vol. 9, No. 2 of the Grateful Dead Almanac's "Dead World Roundup."
The trio of musicians performed at a ceremony honoring Pelosi after her selection as House Minority Whip, the first time in the 213-year history of Congress that a woman has held such a powerful position. Given the San Francisco native has now become the nation's minority leader, one can understand Weir's excitement.
One last observation from the Dead World Roundup: "Among the songs played at Pelosi's party: Miller's hit 'Take the Money and Run.' Now, we could speculate on whether that choice was intended as a timely comment on the shenanigans of top executives at an embattled energy-trading company. We could. But it would be wrong."
COLD AND STARVED
"Total animal liberation means no beef, poultry, eggs, leather, fur, hunting, fishing, circuses, zoos, pets and no animal research whatsoever for medical cures or treatments." -- Mike Burita, spokesman for the Washington-based Center for Consumer Freedom, explaining what would be missing in our lives should the beginning stages of animal-rights ballot initiatives - five of which appeared in this month's midterm elections - ultimately achieve the national goal of "total animal liberation."
FOR THE BIRDS
Speaking of animals, tempers are flaring on Teddy Kennedy's beloved Massachusetts national seashore of Cape Cod, where anti-hunting groups want to amend their recently filed lawsuit and ban all types of hunting once and for all.
In their original case, only pheasant hunting was targeted. But this week, animal rights groups, including the Fund for Animals, Humane Society of the United States, and Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, amended the complaint to include all hunting in the 43,000-acre seashore.
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation, a defendant intervenor in the case, claims a loss of hunting on Cape Cod could affect hunting on federal land across the nation.
Or, warns Wayne MacCallum, director of Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife: "The past has shown us that if they win at places like Cape Cod, they will not stop there."
Activist residents in the Washington suburb of Takoma Park are warming up to corn stoves due to climate concerns. A corn silo, built to store cleaner-burning kernels, was even installed last week at the city's Department of Public Works, the first of its kind in so populated an area of the nation.
"I applaud the efforts of citizens of Takoma Park to stop global warming through the pioneering and innovative use of burning corn to heat homes in that fair city," writes Paul Georgia, environmental policy analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington.
"I realize that this is just the first step and look forward to the day when Takoma Park builds the remaining 599 or so grain silos needed to store enough corn to heat every home in the city."
Regarding our item this week that the Department of Health and Human Services announced it will provide up to a quarter of a million dollars to the state of Maryland to provide mental health services for those traumatized by the Beltway sniper, reader Donald R. Fox, of Saltillo, Miss., observes:
"Concerning the $250,000 for mental health service: What in the world would this generation have done if they were alive during World War II?"