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Mr. Smiley

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Who on the job isn't talking about the escalating slugfest between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama?

Discussion around the water cooler this week centers on Mrs. Clinton's trying to weasel her way into the White House by demanding that the Democratic Party drop its own rules and allow primary votes in Florida and Michigan to count. Other cubicle conversations concur how wimpy Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is to kowtow to the New York senator's show of power.

So what's wrong with displays of political affiliation in the workplace?

"While many employees actively campaign for their favorite candidates, they may not be aware that some political activities are inappropriate — if not prohibited — in the workplace," warns the Washington-based Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC).

"With so much of the public attention turned to the election this year, it is important for employees to know their company policy on discussing politics at work," explains ACC President Fredrick J. Krebs, whose association has gone so far as to offer its members — a good many of them lawyers — a three-minute "Politics at Work" phone message to provide guidance on appropriate political activity allowed at work.

Your choice

The Rev. Dennis W. Kleinmann, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Old Town Alexandria, writes in a recent church bulletin: "It only came to my attention after the fact, but I learned that someone had put 'Catholics for McCain' fliers on cars in our parking lots and on the street.

"It is the position of the Church that we may never promote a specific candidate for office. So, these fliers were not authorized by me or anyone else here at St. Mary's. What we as priests have a duty to do is inform you of the principles involved when voting. Some principles are always and everywhere true, such as the right to life, which should be primary then in our decisions when we choose a candidate for which to vote."

We will note what Father Kleinmann cannot. Democratic Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton are pro-choice, and Republican Sen. John McCain is pro-life.

If walls could talk

Rest assured — well, almost — Washington's Renaissance Mayflower Hotel has hosted its share of history long before, according to reports, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer spent the night of Feb. 13 in room 871 with a prostitute.

Indeed, it's just the latest scandal affiliated with the historic hotel on Connecticut Avenue in Northwest. It was in 1999 that the Mayflower provided free of charge its $5,000 Presidential Suite so that House impeachment managers could huddle privately with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, who had been involved with President Clinton.

Of course, the Mayflower has a proud history, too, since its opening in 1925. The inaugural ball of every president from Calvin Coolidge to Ronald Reagan was held at the Mayflower, where overnight guests have included Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Prince Takamatsu of Japan, Charles de Gaulle, Walt Disney, Carole Lombard and John Wayne.

Charles Lindbergh celebrated his historic flight there. Jean Harlow spent a morning working the hotel switchboard, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote the famous line "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" in suite 776. Washington debutantes have traditionally been presented to society at the Mayflower. It contained more gold leaf than any building in the country, except the Library of Congress.

For the record, this writer spent his honeymoon at the Mayflower. Then again, the marriage didn't work out.

Ritz suite

We just finished reading the spring issue of the University of Virginia Magazine, which features an interview with alum Brit Hume of the Fox News Channel — class of '65.

It so happens that Mr. Hume's fellow panelist on Fox, Fred Barnes, also graduated from the Charlottesville campus in 1965.

"Fred and I were very different, in the sense that he was always interested in the news and the world of politics, long before I was," Mr. Hume reveals.

"I remember he had a room ... in a boarding house one year. The floor was basically coated with newspapers. I said, 'God, Fred, this is a mess.' He said, 'Yeah, it ain't the Ritz.' From then on, his room was known as the Ritz because it was so ridiculous.' "

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