New member

John McCaslin
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Posted: Oct 04, 2005 10:01 PM

Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell of Maine and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas will officially welcome former House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri into their post-congressional club during a reception tomorrow evening at the Willard Hotel.

We say officially, because it's been several months since the 64-year-old Gephardt, who stepped down from Capitol Hill in January, joined the Washington office of law firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary as senior counsel. The office is headed by Mitchell, and also counts former Rep. Jennifer Dunn of Washington among its ranks.

Gephardt, who twice fell short in bids to become his party's presidential nominee, has wasted little time wielding his influence and was hired by Boeing in recent weeks to advise the aerospace company on its dispute with striking machinists.

Suffice it to say, he's been anxious to utilize his law degree, which he earned from the University of Michigan in 1965.

JESUIT ACHIEVERS

After analyzing President Bush's pick of White House counsel - and non-judge - Harriet Miers to serve on the nation's highest court, NBC's "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert went to bat on Monday for the tuition-free Washington Jesuit Academy and its generous benefactors.

The academy provides boys from mostly "at-risk" backgrounds with a college-preparatory education, not to mention three balanced meals a day.

Russert, who addressed both students and their financial sponsors and mentors, is a product of eight years of education by the Jesuit order of Catholic priests, first at Buffalo's Canisius High School in New York, and then at Cleveland's John Carroll University.

Russert "spoke about his two schools and how they mirrored what we do at the academy on a daily basis, and how that helped set him on the course for where he is today," says academy spokesman Brian Ray.

DECLARATION OF JEHU?

Now on display for the next year in the National Archives Rotunda - right there alongside the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights - is the Declaration of Jehu Grant.

A slave in Narragansett, R.I., Grant's master remained loyal to the British during the Revolutionary War. So what did Grant do? He not only escaped in August 1777, but for 10 months he fought with the Americans - that is, until his master tracked him down.

Some 60 years later, Grant applied for a pension from the U.S. government. But Uncle Sam told him he was not eligible, owing to his status as a "fugitive slave" at the time of his war service.

He responded with a statement of "poignant simplicity," say the nation's archivists, who deem the unusual pension request worthy of display next to the three Charters of Freedom.

Wrote Grant in his claim: "(W)hen I saw liberty poles and the people all engaged for the support of freedom, I could not but like and be pleased with such thing (God forgive me if sinned in so feeling)."

SCOPING WOLF

Asked what's the most dangerous day he's had on the job, CNN's Wolf Blitzer recalls 2002 when he was lined up to interview Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on the West Bank.

"I was staying in Jerusalem," Blitzer says in a Q&A with the Ritz-Carlton magazine. "He was a night owl, and his aide called me and told me I needed to interview him the next day at midnight."

As it was, Blitzer landed his interview, not departing the West Bank until 3 a.m.

"We're in this armored car, and we got to an Israeli checkpoint," he continues. "Now, in these armored cars, all the windows are kept closed and you can't hear anything outside. We're sitting there for the longest time, wondering what's going on and, fortunately, our driver opened his door and got out.

"All of a sudden, lights were flashing and the Israeli guards were telling us to get out or they were going to blow up the car. They thought we were suicide bombers," says Blitzer, who adds: "They told us that if we had sat in there for 30 more seconds, they'd have blown us up."

MAILBAG

One recent column item generating considerable intrigue, particularly among the golfing set, dealt with the day former President George Bush mistakenly ducked into a women's restroom adjacent to the fifth hole of the Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga.

Bush's foursome, including pro golfer Davis Love III and former Attorney General Griffin B. Bell, was laughing hysterically when the red-faced Bush later emerged.

"Given the speed at which George H.W. Bush is known to play golf, it's intriguing he would even stop to use a restroom," observes Ron Kurtz of Spring, Texas. "In fact, the best characterization of his game that I've ever read came from the late, great professional golfer, Dave Marr, who said President Bush 'played golf like he was double parked.'"

LES ENEMIES

"You shouldn't be surprised," writes Beltway Beat fan Robert Johns of Farmington, Conn., after this column observed that writing thrillers has gotten tougher since the Cold War ended and put the handy Soviet villains out of business.

We'd written earlier that Capt. David E. Meadows, an active-duty Navy officer and author of the acclaimed "Sixth Fleet" series of military novels, has identified a surprising new threat for fictional heroes: France.

"I'm currently reading the new Ted Bell novel," Johns said, "in which the French join forces with China in an attempt to take control of Mideast oil production. I'd be willing to bet there are, or soon will be, quite a few novels with the same 'France and/or China as villain' theme."

ANNUAL QUESTION

You know the little box on your federal income-tax forms that asks whether you want to contribute $3 to help fund presidential campaigns and political party nominating conventions?

Well, enough people check "yes" that Rep. Randy Neugebauer, Texas Republican, has introduced legislation to stop the practice, which was begun in 1972. By not handing over our hard-earned money to politicians, the congressman predicts savings of as much as $550 million over the next 10 years.

LIBERAL 'PLANTATION'

Add documentary filmmaker to the resume of McLean resident Nina May, among other titles of founder and chairman of the Renaissance Foundation, which brings together political and business leaders of different countries and cultural backgrounds.

"Our film - 'Emancipation, Revelation, Revolution' - has been selected to be in the 2005 Liberty Film Festival in Hollywood, California, from Oct. 21 to 23," she tells The Beltway Beat.

"It is a documentary that looks at the history of the civil-rights movement in America, the roles both major political parties played in that history, why blacks today are trapped on the liberal plantation and what happens to conservative blacks when they choose to leave."

Among the other feature films selected for the festival: "Broken Promises: The United Nations at 60," "Cochise County, USA: Cries From the Border," "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," "Fellowship 9/11," "Grace Before Meals" and a selection of Kurdish/Iraqi shorts from the First Short Film Festival in Iraq.

GUILTY BEFORE TRIED

"The indictment is another stark reminder that Republicans have a lucrative money-for-influence machine that will do anything - including breaking the law - to funnel corporate and special-interest money into their party in huge amounts." - Tom McMahon, executive director of the Democratic National Committee, responding to last week's indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas on conspiracy to violate campaign-finance laws.

LENO CLONE

Asked to what extent the rising tide of corruption charges against top Republicans, including the American Indian gambling scandal involving GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, will affect the Republican Party's political fortunes, conservative Washington political consultant Craig Shirley replied, "We'll have to wait for the other moccasin to drop."