Mum's the word
Instead of hawking Viagra like former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, Vice President Dick Cheney, upon leaving office, ought to don the Energizer Bunny costume.
Contrary to predictions by practically every pundit in Washington, Mr. Cheney outlasted repeated rumors of his impending demise, whether it be due to "declining health," spreading "faulty intelligence," CIA spy-leak "links," using "poor" judgment, or just plain peppering his pal with birdshot.
U.S. News & World Report, for example, wrote in 2005 that there were "rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice."
Others predicted 18 months ago that Mr. Cheney would be gone "within a year."
However, barring another hunting mishap, the vice president apparently has no intention of stepping down anytime soon, albeit he delights in keeping news organizations in the dark when it comes to his personal — and even official — affairs.
When Mr. Cheney does eventually leave office, whether by surprise announcement in the coming weeks or months, or when his White House term expires in January 2009, the only remaining question will be how he plans to spend his retirement.
"I'd rather not talk about that," the vice president evaded the inquiry when Inside the Beltway posed the question.
Would he return to his native Wyoming?
"I'd rather not talk about that," he said.
How empires end
President Bush says he doesn't often read newspapers and newsmagazines. And that's a good thing, because he would not enjoy reading Pat Buchanan's dire forecast for the United States of America.
"We are about to witness how empires end," Mr. Buchanan writes in the July 30 issue of the American Conservative, insisting that official Washington "is truly about to write off Iraq as a lost cause."
The Republican lines on Capitol Hill are crumbling, the conservative commentator notes. "It is a near-certainty the U.S.-backed government will fall, and friends we leave behind will suffer the fate of our Vietnamese and Cambodian friends in 1975."
"A breakup of the country seems certain," he says. "Al Qaeda will claim it has run the American superpower out of Iraq."
As for fallout in America?
"Here at home, the argument over who is responsible for the worst strategic debacle in American history will be poisonous," Mr. Buchanan opines. "With a U.S. defeat in Iraq, American prestige would plummet ... . We are about to witness how empires end."
We see that First Lady Laura Bush is traveling today to Hartford, Conn., where she will tour the Mark Twain House and Museum on Farmington Avenue. There, perhaps, she will ponder the Twain quote: "No matter how healthy a man's morals may be when he enters the White House, he comes out again with a pot-marked soul."
The heat is obviously getting to Michael T. Eckhart, president of the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE). Two weeks ago, this column published a threatening letter he wrote to Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), concerning "global warming." Then last week, Mr. Eckhart issued an apology, expressing regret for calling Mr. Lewis disparaging names and threatening to "destroy" his "career" as a "liar" — all because Mr. Lewis does not share Mr. Eckhart's opinions on the cause of climate change.
Now, Inside the Beltway has learned that Mr. Lewis isn't the only recipient of Mr. Eckhart's vitriol.
He wrote to Competitive Enterprise Institute President Fred Smith on Sept. 25, 2006. "Following up on our meeting at the Rocky Mountain retreat last spring with Al Gore, I am writing to say that I am very unhappy to see this continuing false analysis coming out of CEI, seeking to refute the issue of global warming."
He said it's surprising a "scientist" like Mr. Smith could "refute" global warming, and "your voice and that of CEI ... will have the ultimate effect of putting my two daughters' lives at greater risk, and even more so for their children."
"The only explanation that I can see is that you are doing this because you are paid by Exxon Mobil and other clients to do so. I find this outrageous, that my children will have a lesser life because you are being paid by oil companies to spread a false story.
"As I said to you at the time, I would give you 90 days to show that CEI is reversing its position on this, or I will take every action I can think of to shut you down," Mr. Eckhart wrote. "I am writing to demand that you and CEI reverse course on this, and do so loudly and publicly, within 30 days, or I will personally file on Oct. 25, 2006, two complaints:
"1. A complaint with the IRS to have CEI's tax exemption revoked, on the basis that CEI is really a lobbyist for the energy industry; 2. A complaint with Phi Beta Kappa that your key should be withdrawn for using your mathematical skills to do the world harm ... You have 30 days to speak the truth, or face the IRS and PBK."