Name that tune

John McCaslin
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Posted: Sep 18, 2003 12:00 AM

We've taken Sen. Joe Lieberman's request to advise him "what songs inspire you and remind you of Joe and would get you excited for Joe at campaign events" one step further by including all presidential candidates in the theme-song search.

Lieberman got things started by naming "My Way" and "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" as two of his favorite campaign songs. Here's a sampling of additional theme songs submitted by Beltway Beat readers:

Joe Lieberman: "Slip Slidin' Away" (Dave Guild, Prior Lake, Minn.)

Carol Moseley Braun: "The Impossible Dream" (George Roper, McAllen, Texas)

George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney: "Old Friends/Bookends" (Steven E. Johnston, Spanaway, Wash.)

All the Democratic candidates: "Lonely People" (Keith M. Subick, Manassas, Va.)

Joe Lieberman: "You Don't Send Me Flowers Anymore" (Rick Bravo, Turnersville, N.J.)

Richard A. Gephardt: "On the Road Again" (Steve Strickland, Fresno, Calif.)

John Kerry: "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" (Floyd J. Kezele, Gallup, N.M.)

Carol Moseley Braun: "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" (Dan Godzich, Phoenix, Ariz.)

John Edwards: "Who Are You?" (Rich Schmick, Kansas City, Mo.)

John Kerry: "Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?" (Barry Hill, Annapolis, Md.)

Al Sharpton: "All I Need Is a Miracle" (Robert Cooper, Breckenridge, Colo.)

Howard Dean: "I Started a Joke" (Maureen Humphrey, Triangle, Va.)

The Democratic Field: "Send in the Clowns" (Cara Lege, Frisco, Texas)

Bob Graham: "I Wanna Be Sedated" (Daniel Magan, Cleveland, Ohio)

Howard Dean: "It's Yesterday Once More" (Steve Barrett, Chattanooga, Tenn.)

George W. Bush: "Takin' Care of Business" (Robert Cooper, Breckenridge, Colo.)

George W. Bush: "I Walk the Line" (Amy C. Reeder, Arlington)

CITIZEN KAYNE

Despite an earlier uproar, National Rifle Association President Kayne Robinson has yet to set foot inside the Oval Office.

Heck, he hasn't even been invited to a White House tea.

"I understand White House tours have started up again," says Robinson, who earlier this year was elected to succeed Charlton Heston as the NRA's top gun.

A former Des Moines assistant police chief and chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, who helped organize the 1999 Iowa straw poll and 2000 presidential caucus, the first in the nation, had anti-gun activists grabbing for their slingshots when he vowed during the 2000 campaign that the NRA would work out of the White House with George W. Bush as president.

"Hyperbole," Robinson admits in an interview with this column, although he's quick to point out that for eight years President Clinton ran the anti-gun lobby out of the White House - "and a lot of his daily visitors - they were practically employees."

"My point was that if we had any hope of a fair shake it would be with a change of presidents," he says. "I think the point I made was right, and I stand by it."

With an estimated 90 million gun owners in the United States, and 4 million NRA members, Robinson doesn't have to look far for support.

"Wherever we go we find a friendly audience," he says, although adding that it's somewhat "formidable" to follow Heston - "a great American and icon" - on stage. The ailing actor served in the NRA's top post for an unprecedented five years.

DECIDING WOMEN

They're critical swing voters who haven't yet made up their minds.

So, top Bush administration officials, including Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, as well as House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and others in her party, are reaching out - as one - to a new voter bloc of women entrepreneurs.

Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), the largest "bipartisan" women's business organization, wrapped up a third annual leadership meeting in Washington Tuesday (Sept. 16) with a plan to enact a "We Decide" initiative for 2004 national and local elections.

"Women business leaders represent an emerging power base in American politics that positions women entrepreneurs as the critical swing vote in the 2004 elections," Terry Neese, president of WIPP, tells us.

She estimates that a "diverse group of 10 million" women in this country "is not yet locked into any political party or presidential candidate."

OIL OLIGOPOLIES

Think the price of gasoline has skyrocketed in your community?

Beltway Beat readers in Los Angeles are paying $2.10 for a gallon of regular unleaded, while in Phoenix a jug costs $2, and closer to home in New York City, it's $1.95. Yet in certain regions of the country gasoline prices have remained relatively constant over the past year.

In other words, gasoline is smelling fishy.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham promised several weeks ago to launch an informal investigation - that is until Congress examined the laws and determined the Energy Department has no control over the regulation of gasoline prices. And the Federal Trade Commission can prosecute only if it finds blatant collusion, something that's difficult to prove.

So what's a motorist who - in the space of a few months - is paying 50 cents more per gallon of gasoline to do?

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the House-Senate energy conference, is taking the lead in seeing to it that government regulators are given the power and authority to police gasoline distributors, thereby eliminating "anticompetitive practices" and consumer gouging.

"Specifically, what we have found is that in my home state, and at least 27 other states, there are essentially 'oligopolies' - mini kinds of monopolies - where just a handful of companies, maybe three or so, maybe four, but a tiny number of companies are controlling more than 60 percent of the gasoline supply," Wyden reveals.

The senator says these overpriced markets often get "redlined."

"In effect, when a market is redlined, you have the independent distributor restricted in terms of where they can sell their gas," he explains. "As a result, the independent stations have to buy their gasoline directly from those large companies, usually at a higher price than the company's own brand-name stations pay. With these higher costs, the independent stations cannot compete."

Wyden believes federal regulations would help promote competition in states where quasi-monopolies exist - more than half the country at last count. The FTC could designate these areas "consumer watch zones," he suggests, where federal monitoring would take place and cease-and-desist orders issued to prevent companies from gouging consumers.

CHILI ART

The Hard Times Cafe (the original one) in Old Town Alexandria, Va., seems an odd place to host an exhibition of original cartoon art featuring the works of Mort Walker ("Beetle Bailey"), Dean Young ("Blondie"), Russell Myers ("Broom Hilda"), and Jim Davis ("Garfield"), among other famed cartoonists and strips.

But this is no ordinary art. This is chili cartoon art.

"The earliest form of chili humor was undoubtedly attempted at the beginning of the 20th century by the unknown gastronomic prognosticator that declared 'chili today, hot tamale,' " writes Eric Denker, curator of prints and drawings at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and senior lecturer at Washington's National Gallery of Art, who actually penned the chili art catalog.

And the exhibition itself was lit by none other than Gordon Anson, the National Gallery's chief lighting designer and deputy chief of design.

What, do these guys eat a lot of chili?

Fred Parker, founder of the Hard Times cafes, it turns out, was once chief of exhibition graphics at the National Gallery of Art. He worked alongside Denker and Anson under J. Carter Brown from 1978 to 1983.

Not surprisingly, the exhibition's invitation-only opening will dish up bowls of Hard Times chili recipes, washed down with the mysterious Mezcals of Oaxaca, Mexico. According to the Aztecs, this legendary liquor distilled from the agave cactus is the elixir of long life.

"What did you expect?" Parker says, "Wine, cheese and a string quartet?"