Hot words from Helen

Posted: Jan 31, 2003 12:00 AM
Helen Thomas, who was a White House correspondent for United Press International for many years, calls George W. Bush "the worst president in all of American history." "This is the worst president ever," Thomas told the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif. "He is the worst president in all of American history." And she "wasn't joking," the Daily Breeze reported. Thomas, who became a columnist for Hearst newspapers when she retired from UPI, was in Los Angeles to speak to a dinner of the Society of Professional Journalists and offered a critique of presidents she has known. She praised John F. Kennedy, who she said "made Americans look to their higher angels." "Then came Johnson's Great Society and Vietnam. Nixon, she said, was a man who would - when presented two roads - 'always choose the wrong one.' He was followed by 'healing' Ford, well-meaning Carter, Reagan's revolution, Bush Sr.'s self-destruction and Clinton's damaging of the presidential myth." George W. Bush, she said, plays to fears after Sept. 11. Thomas has often criticized the president in her column for his support of Israel. HOLLYWOOD AGENT The Democratic National Committee has been busy recruiting volunteers for the inauguration of the "only true president" - Josiah Bartlet. "A friend of mine at the DNC is trying to get some extras organized for the filming of the inauguration for the only true president, Josiah Bartlet, for the TV show 'West Wing,'" said Kathryn Seck, deputy communications director for the Campaign for America's Wilderness, in an e-mail sent in recent days. "I know it is short notice and would require taking time off work, but the DNC came up short of the target number of extras they were trying to recruit," she explained. "The filming will start at 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, in Baltimore, Md. Dress is black tie. You will get paid $100 and food will be provided. Please let me know ASAP if you or your friends are interested. Only Democrats allowed." Reached Tuesday, Seck confirmed she was behind the casting call, which we obtained from an unqualified actor, a Republican. TERRORIST HAVENS The 15 Saudi hijackers of Sept. 11 were first "dissidents" and then "terrorists," says Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar, who has scolded the United States and the West for providing political refuge to "bad people" otherwise being sought by Saudi intelligence. Prince Bandar's remarks came during a question-and-answer session with the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, when he was asked: "How would you feel if 15 or 19 Americans would go to Saudi Arabia and cause the damage that was caused on Sept. 11 by Saudi citizens to the United States?" According to Kevin McCauley, of O'Dwyer's PR Daily (, the ambassador responded that the entire story surrounding Sept. 11 is "not out yet." He said prior to Sept. 11, "bad people" being chased by Saudi intelligence - finding no refuge in Iran, Libya or Syria - fled to the West. "They always go to London, Berlin, Paris, sometimes here," he said. "And when we report to our counterparts, 'Look, these are bad people. Will you please help us with them?' we are told they are dissidents and that if we only give them the right to speak, they would not have problems." "When they spoke, it was ugly," said Prince Bandar. "And the result of their thinking and speaking is what you saw on 9/11." In the future, said the ambassador, the West "must be firm" with dissident evildoers "so we can prevent their next move." TIME ALWAYS TELLS "Time and time again over the 20th century, the West learned that the scale of crimes committed by totalitarian regimes was far worse than we even knew. It was not until those brutal regimes fell and their victims documented the full extent of the monstrous abuse that we learned the truth. "We saw it in Hitler's Germany. We saw it in the Soviet Union. We saw it in Cambodia, and eventually we will see it in Cuba. And once Saddam fails and falls, the Iraqi people will shock and disgust the world by revealing the full, ghastly scope of Saddam's oppression." -- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) speaking from the House floor this week. LOVE HURTS Former White House adviser Mary Matalin continues to toil for the Bush administration, albeit from home where she can spend more time with her two children. That no doubt means she's been seeing more of her husband, former Clinton strategist and Democratic guru James Carville. Asked this week by nationally syndicated radio host Sean Hannity how she trusts her hubby not to sneak a peek at any confidential White House files she's carried home, quotes Matalin as saying of Carville: "He has the span of concentration of a hummingbird or mosquito. He couldn't look at it long enough to know what it was." CALL HIM MAX Rep. Max Burns (R-Ga.) isn't your typical politician just arrived in Washington. Perhaps fellow newly elected congressmen recognized this when honoring him as president of the 108th Congress' freshman class. "Let me make this clear, my first name is 'Max.' People think my first name is 'Congressman.' It's not. Call me Max," Burns told this column just before President Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday night. Elected as the first congressman to represent Georgia's newly drawn 12th Congressional District (stretching from Athens to Augusta to Savannah), Burns holds both master's and doctoral degrees. Even more impressive, he was a Senior Fulbright scholar, teaching in Sweden, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. But Burns never forgot his rural Georgia roots. The married father of two grown sons ultimately returned to his family's beef and timber farm, where he still works and lives today. When he wasn't called to duty as a first lieutenant in the Army Reserves, he could be found at Jackson Baptist Church in Sylvania, where he remains a deacon today. Mostly, though, he's proud of his work on behalf of the youth of his community. In fact, his biography lists the 20-plus years he's spent as a coach and high school football referee far above any mention of his Fulbright scholarship. Given his tremendous leap to Capitol Hill, Burns is now looking out for the parents and grandparents, too. "I've been honored by these folks to represent them," says the congressman, until recently a professor at Georgia Southern University. "One of the things that has helped me become successful in my life is that I share with my constituents the same background, the same values, the same goals and objectives." A strong supporter of President Bush in the nation's fight against terrorism, Burns doesn't hesitate to point out that the top issue in Georgia right now is a weak economy. "Like many around the country, my constituents have suffered economically," he says. "NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) has not been kind to Georgia. We need to be more fair when stimulating the economy." Which he hopes to help grow, albeit in due time. "Not until we have a secure and safe nation," he says. "Right now, we are rightfully preoccupied with the security and safety of this nation, and I have confidence in this president." Once the country's borders are better secured and the terrorists in check, "then we will come back and deal with the economic challenges," he says, "along with issues like prescription drugs, Medicare and Social Security. "And in two years," Burns says, "I'm confident we will see a stronger economy, throughout Georgia and the nation."