Let's roll

Posted: Jan 10, 2003 12:00 AM
Good grief. Did you catch what Michael Moore, author of the best-selling book "Stupid White Men," told one audience about the brave passengers aboard United Flight 93 and the three other terrorist-hijacked planes that came crashing down on September 11? The London Independent's Yasmin Alibhai-Brown writes of going with a family member to see Moore live at the Roundhouse, in north London, before Christmas. "The U.S. radical and author was (mostly) clever, funny, angry, sharp, iconoclastic and skeptical about the lies and humbug processed by the U.S. government and big business," says the writer. "Sure there were some flunked bits - you expect that, the troughs are part of the adventure, an evening with a well-worn rebel. "What we did not expect was to feel so enraged at one point that we almost walked out. It was when Moore went into a rant about how the passengers on the planes on 11 September were scaredy-cats because they were mostly white." Say that again? "If the passengers had included black men, he claimed, those killers, with their puny bodies and unimpressive small knives, would have been crushed by the dudes, who as we all know take no disrespect from anybody." Despite "Stupid White Men" rising to the top of the best-seller lists, Moore ("Roger and Me," "TV Nation," "Downsize This!" and "The Big One") was widely criticized for his lazy research, which duped readers on issues including welfare rolls and defense spending, and people such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. STILL THE ECONOMY That was Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., playing hostess at last night's book party for Democratic strategist Paul Begala at the Palm in Washington. Best known for teaming up with James Carville to introduce Bill Clinton beyond Arkansas, Begala is author of the new book, "It's Still the Economy, Stupid: George W. Bush, the GOP's CEO" (Simon & Schuster). Begala's reaction to having Hillary on hand last night? "She is the most admired woman in America," Begala tells Inside the Beltway. "I think she has been one of the strongest, clearest voices that we've had. She is as strong as garlic in a milkshake." The book Clinton is helping the author sell to America "is 622 footnotes documenting the failed Bush economic policy," says Begala. "And it's a wake-up call for Democrats, too. The Democrats have been way too wimpy in taking on the president's economic policy." Begala says "even my conservative friends" like the book - not so much for its content and hard partisan edge, but because it's sprinkled with humor. EAT YOUR SPROUTS Look for greener bureaucrats in Washington beginning next week. Green is the theme of the shiny new Environmental Protection Agency headquarters cafeteria, to be opened on Monday by EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. Or so we gather from a memo to all EPA headquarters staff from assistant administrator Morris X. Winn: "This state-of-the-art facility will incorporate the latest best practices in 'green' cafeteria facilities, including, among other things, the use of recyclable products and materials, furnishings and carpet manufactured from post-consumer recycled materials, green cleaning products, and energy-efficient lighting. "Additionally, as part of its normal operation, the cafeteria vendor, Sodexho, will offer a menu featuring foods from sustainable sources, such as organic fruits and vegetables and shade-grown coffee." Observes one veteran EPA official who sent us his memo: "But they don't say if you have to eat all your vegetables before you get dessert." ELVIS SIGHTING Proof that Americans enjoy taking a break from politics is evidenced by the amount of correspondence we received after pointing out several strange similarities between Elvis Presley and Rep. Richard W. Pombo, R-Calif. Even the nation's top weapons specialists took time out from the looming war with Iraq to weigh in on the eerie "Elvis and Pombo" comparisons. Take Robert Catherwood Sr., project management professional with the Weapon Systems Engineering division of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. "Further proof that Representative Pombo could indeed be Elvis is evidenced by the fact that the both of them have never been seen together," observes the scientist. Good point, sir. And be sure to let us know if any official types from Washington pay you a visit this week. 'DEVIL' MUSIC What a difference two years make. In 2000, Christian Josi, executive director of the American Conservative Union, authored the book "Hillary Rodham Clinton: What Every American Should Know," calling the New York Senate candidate's record one of "scandal, corruption and radical politics." Since then, Josi has left the ACU, but he's coming soon to a concert stage or movie theater near you. He has just signed on with June Street Entertainment to place his music in films and TV. Josi's 1994 debut album, "I Walks With My Feet off the Ground" (MasterMix Records), received critical acclaim. But after an eight-year hiatus (somebody had to counter two terms of the Clinton White House) from the music business, Josi returned to the studio in November to lay down new tracks with legendary jazz pianist John Colianni of Mel Torme fame. According to Lloyd Remick of Zane Management Inc., Josi also plans to be back soon in the studio with Colianni and Smithereens frontman Pat DiNizio to record another album. This column predicts that Josi will remain in the music business, a far less stressful gig than battling Clinton, who got elected despite his book. "I have received hundreds of phone calls and letters," Josi said after penning the goods on Mrs. Clinton. "They are pretty evenly split - some say I was too easy on her, and on the other side, I get calls that say I'm the son of the devil." NEED TO RSVP It's a big party week in Washington, given the convening of the new 108th Congress. But not everybody in the nation's capital has cause to celebrate, particularly Democrats, what with their new minority status in both wings of the U.S. Capitol. "I was struck by the fact that, here we are on the very first day of the 108th Congress, and I am proud to say it is the Democratic Party that is down here on the floor tonight talking about the economy and the recession and how we invest our way out of it. We are talking about war, how we avoid it. We are talking about new job creation for our country," Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, told anybody who was listening - there weren't many - Tuesday night. "I do not hear anything from the other side. I mean, it is easy to go to cocktail parties and leave for dinners because it is kind of a day of pomp and circumstance. On the other hand, we are a serious party. We are true to our traditions. I am very proud to be a Democrat tonight. We are doing our job." At which time Rep. Tom Osborne, R-Neb., stood up in an otherwise empty House chamber and walked to the lectern. "I sat here with a great deal of interest listening to the fact that Republicans were at cocktail parties and out with lobbyists. And I am a Republican, and I am still here," he said. Now if somebody would please add the names of Kaptur and Osborne to their party-invitation list. SIBLING RIVALRIES On the House side of Capitol Hill, 54 new members took the oath of office this week, as the historic 108th Congress convened. It's historic because, for the first time, a woman, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was nominated for speaker of the House of Representatives. Also, another woman, Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, becomes the first chairman, er, chairwoman of the House Republican Conference. And, amazingly enough, it's historic in that two sibling pairs of members were sworn in - the Sanchez sisters (Democrats Loretta and Linda) from California and the Diaz-Balart brothers (Republicans Lincoln and Mario) from Florida, both from immigrant families. MICKEY STAMP Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, wasted no time on the first day of the new Congress filing a resolution to issue a commemorative postage stamp in honor of the late Rep. George "Mickey" Leland. Leland, a Texas Democrat who served almost a dozen years in the House, was chosen freshman majority whip in his first term, and later served twice as at-large majority whip. As chairman of the House Select Committee on Hunger, he became a world ambassador for the hungry. A plane crash in Ethiopia in 1989 took the lives of Leland and 15 others, among them two members of his congressional staff, four U.S. Agency for International Development employees, one State Department staffer and philanthropist Ivan Tillem. They were en route to an isolated refugee camp near the Sudanese border, where thousands were starving.