Stocking stuffer

John McCaslin
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Posted: Oct 14, 2003 12:00 AM

He's not really the president, he just sometimes pretends to be.

And that's reason enough for talkingpresidents.com to create the first-ever talking Donald H. Rumsfeld doll.

The "Talking Rummy" doll speaks 26 sound bites, and sports a realistic face, right down to its stylish eyeglasses.

Here's a sample of what Rummy says:

"I'm working my way over to figuring out how I won't answer that."

"You just don't like one-word answers."

"The statement made is sound as a rock - I didn't say Iraq."

Rummy will begin shipping in November.

RUBIN RISES

Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin is the new vice chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington think tank charged with increasing America's understanding of the world and foreign policy.

Most notably, the council publishes Foreign Affairs, considered the leading journal on global issues.

Rubin, who departed the Clinton White House in 1999, serves as chairman of the board of the Local Initiatives Support Corp., a leading community development group, as well as on the board of the Ford Motor Co.

We're awaiting his Random House book due for release next month, "In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices From Wall Street to Washington."

GAS GOUGING

One congressmen is so fed up with unforeseen spikes in gasoline prices he's calling on President Bush and the Justice Department "to prosecute all wrongdoing to the fullest extent of the law."

Rep. Steven R. Rothman (D-N.J.) says he was stunned to see gas prices rise in his state by more than 30 cents per gallon in the space of one recent week.

Besides cash-strapped consumers, he points out that municipalities budget more than a year in advance for gasoline purchases for police cars, public works trucks and heating oil for public buildings.

And while he still wants the feds to target companies that deliberately gouge consumers, the congressman says local governments are sick of waiting.

New Jersey Mayors David L. Ganz of Fair Lawn and Jim Carroll of Demerest, he says, persuaded the state Legislature to consider an investigation of suspect oil companies.

The congressman, meanwhile, wants Bush to consider releasing oil from the 22-billion-barrel strategic petroleum reserve, so as to provide consumers immediate relief.

LEISURE SUITS

Bernard Goldberg, who spent 28 years as a CBS newsman, only to rock his employer and the entire media establishment with his best seller "Bias," is preparing to publish again.

Goldberg is now a reporter for HBO. His "Arrogance: Rescuing America From the Media Elite," goes beyond "Bias" and reveals how "entrenched biases" exist in leading news organizations - newspapers to TV - and how too many media elites sneeringly dismiss anyone who criticizes them.

"If the media elite maintain their arrogance and don't change," warns the longtime CBS correspondent, "they'll cease to be serious players in the national conversation and become the journalism equivalent of the leisure suit - harmless enough but hopelessly out of date."

Goldberg's book, set for release by Warner Books on Nov. 3, features conversations with NBC's Tim Russert and Bob Costas, "a few minutes with Andy Rooney" of CBS, and examines ABC's Barbara Walters as "guardian of standards."

As for our favorite chapter title: "And the Nobel Prize for Hillary-Gushing Goes To ..."

WRITTEN WORD

We in the print trade often preach the importance of reading a newspaper to fully understand an issue that can't possibly be explained in a one-minute television sound bite.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) similarly feels that no obligation a congressman has "is greater than that of making clear to those we are privileged to represent why we vote as we do, especially on important issues."

Because allotted debate time for President Bush's proposed $87 billion appropriation for Iraq and Afghanistan will be too limited for congressmen "fully to explain themselves," Frank has outlined his position in writing and submitted it to Congress for lawmakers and Americans to read.

JUNE CLEAVER

Invitations have gone out for an Oct. 21 reception for Scripps Howard reporter Joan A. Lowy's new book, "Pat Schroeder: A Woman of the House."

Not a woman of the typical house, but a woman of the House of Representatives, where the Colorado Democrat felt she was spending too much and called it quits after 12 terms.

"The problem is, no one has time to be a family anymore because they are working so hard," the congresswoman said on the House floor in 1996. "I graduated from high school in 1958. I want to read to you what came from my high school book on home economics and how I should be a good wife.

"No. 1, it said: 'When your husband comes home, have dinner ready. Plan ahead the night before a delicious meal. Men like to be fed right as they come through the door, and they will feel very comforted if they know that they can always count on that.'

"No. 2: 'Prepare yourself at least 15 minutes before your husband is coming home. Be sure you are refreshed. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair ... minimize all noise. Turn off all machines in the house and be there at the door to greet him and welcome him home from the very, very difficult day he has had at work. Do not greet him with problems. Do not complain if he is late for dinner. Listen to him. Let him talk first. Make the evening his.'

"Now, Mr. Speaker, you show me an American home where you can practice this today, and I am going to move there," Schroeder said. "My husband and I have never been able to do this. He has wanted that kind of wife; I have wanted to be that kind of wife."

JACKSON WINNERS

We've learned this year's Jackson Awards dinner, named for the late Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson, will honor Reps. James H. Saxton, New Jersey Republican, and Jane Harman, California Democrat, for leadership in the fight against terrorism.

Saxton is chairman of the Armed Services subcommittee on terrorism, unconventional threats and capabilities. Harman is ranking member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the new Select Committee on Homeland Security.

The Oct. 27 dinner marks the 21st year of the Jackson Awards, sponsored by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.