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The amount spent on Bill Clinton's telephone service last year...

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Bubba’s Talk Costly, Again

The amount spent on Bill Clinton’s telephone service last year…

Shut Bubba Up

April’s “Harper’s Index” is filled with intriguing trivia, including the amount the U.S. government spent last year on its former presidents: $2,500,000.

But get a load of this:

“Amount it spent on Bill Clinton‘s telephone service: $79,000.”

Obviously, if he’s going to talk so much on the telephone, somebody in government should insist that Mr. Clinton enroll in one of those less-expensive “friends and family”-style phone plans.

Seldom Heard

America’s No. 1 nationally syndicated columnist (now appearing in more than 550 newspapers) Cal Thomas tells this columnist: “I’ve had a lot of things happen while flying, but this morning was a new one.”

“We were delayed on a Delta flight from Atlanta to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport for more than 90 minutes,” Mr. Thomas said. “The reason was that the captain had left his I.D. at home. He called his wife. She drove to the airport and gave it to him.

“He was extremely embarrassed and said in all his years as a commercial pilot and, before that, in the Air Force, this was the first time he had ever done such a thing. Then he announced on the PA system, ‘I’m going to say something you’ll never hear in Washington: I screwed-up.’ Much laughter followed.”

Behind Every Man

“Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet.”

Or such was the title of the recent State Department forum, the featured speaker Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Gipper’s Team

President Reagan‘s former Labor Secretary Ann McLaughlin Korologos and his one-time legal counsel Theodore B. “Ted” Olson have just been appointed to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation Board of Trustees, joining the likes of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Steve Forbes, and T. Boone Pickens, to name a few.

“I know that it would mean so much to him to have them both back as part of the Reagan team, especially during this important time of growth for the foundation,” former first lady Nancy Reagan said in making the announcement.

Mr. Olson, who was U.S. solicitor general under former President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004, continues to hold the record for presenting the most cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. And he’s not slowing down any. He told this columnist that he still leaves for work every morning at 5:30.

Well Put

Regarding the AIG bonus bonanza and numerous economic bailout packages, a Tennessee constituent of Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn said it best when he told the congresswoman: “I’m tired of the government spending money I have not made yet for programs I don’t want.”

Here We Go Again

Once again, as often happens when the going gets tough, France and everything “French” gets a share of the blame.

When President Bush marched into Baghdad and France didn’t follow, the French became adversaries, to the extent that potato-loving Americans stopped ordering “french fries” in favor of “freedom fries.”

Now here we bob in the turbulent wake of the AIG bailout, and the French are again the enemy.

“AIG took bailout money and then gave millions to executives in bonuses,” Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Republican, noted this week. “To make matters worse, AIG gave bailout money to foreign banks, like in France.”

And?

“The French are the same people who vilify the United States, blame the world’s problems on us, and have a disdain for everything American,” he said. “I think the U.S. has bailed out France enough. We helped save France in World War I, saved them again in World War II, and took over in Vietnam after they failed there — but with little or no gratitude from the French!”

Marine Promotion

There are now more than 100 congressional co-sponsors of legislation to redesignate the Department of the Navy to be the “Department of the Navy and Marine Corps.”

The Marine Corps is a legally distinct military service within the Department of the Navy, although the National Security Act of 1947 defines the Marine Corps, Navy, Army and Air Force as the nation’s four services.

“The Marine Corps has not asked for complete autonomy,” says Rep. Walter B. Jones, the North Carolina Republican who introduced the legislation. “Nothing structurally needs to change in their relations with the Navy, which has served both branches well. The Corps only asks for recognition. Having served their nation proudly and courageously since colonial days, the leathernecks have earned a promotion.”

Uh Oh

It was one week ago that the State Department boasted in this column that the U.S. passport has become “one of the most secure travel documents produced anywhere in the world.”

Now, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation is warning that terrorists can easily obtain a genuine U.S. passport. GAO conducted four tests and unfortunately was successful in obtaining a U.S. passport in each case.

“In the most egregious case, an undercover GAO investigator obtained a passport using counterfeit documents and the Social Security Number (SSN) of a man who died in 1965,” it says. “In another case, the investigator obtained a passport using counterfeit documents and the genuine SSN of a fictitious 5-year-old child … even though the investigator’s counterfeit documents and application indicated he was 53 years old.”

The GAO investigator later purchased an airline ticket, used the passport as proof of identity, got a boarding pass, and passed through an airport security checkpoint.

Doddering?

A Washington fundraising party will be held Wednesday for embattled Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, who has become “poster boy” for the country’s economic crisis.

”Let’s help to re-elect this five-term incumbent senator from Connecticut,” says the invitation to the evening bash, which seeks “host” contributions of $5,000, “PAC” gifts of $2,500, and “individual” donations of $1,000 — all made out to “Friends of Chris Dodd.”

Meanwhile, the Associated Press opined over the weekend that “Democrats may want to start thinking about a bailout for Christopher Dodd,” who faces a tough re-election.

“After first denying it,” the wire service noted, “Dodd admitted he agreed to … dilute an executive-bonus restriction in the economic stimulus bill that Congress passed last month. The change allowed AIG to hand out the [$165 million] bonuses.”

Mr. Dodd is also under an ethics probe for mortgages he secured from Countrywide Financial Corp., the lending giant at the center of the mortgage crisis.

Gather for Gadhafi

The Livingston Group (TLG) in Washington is helping organize the 40th anniversary celebration of Col. Moammar Gadhafi‘s 1969 coup takeover of Libya, while also working to reduce airport hassles of Libyan officials and citizens by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

O’Dwyer’s Public Relations News (odwyerpr.com) calls attention to a 42-page document stamped “confidential,” crediting former House Speaker-designate Bob Livingston, Louisiana Republican, and his TLG team for working “around the clock” to ensure passage of a bill signed into law in August that approved settlement claims with family members of doomed Pan Am Flight 103, which Libyan agents packed with explosives and blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland.

“’Recognition of 40th Anniversary of the Revolution’ is among special projects that TLG plans to tackle,” O’Dwyer states. “It plans to show how life has improved under Gaddafi and identify U.S. companies eager to join the festivities.”

Race Aside

Bishop E.W. Jackson Sr., the former chaplain of the Boston Red Sox and Boston Fire Department who later founded Exodus Faith Ministries in Chesapeake, Va., has launched “Obama Watch,” a weekly commentary carried on more than 250 radio stations.

“I am an African-American, but I am American first,” announced Bishop Jackson, “and I want my country to succeed. I want President Obama to succeed only to the extent that his policies are right for the country, and that is clearly not the case so far. I have been disturbed by the direction in which our new president is taking America. I intend to watch the administration’s actions closely and call them as I see them.”

Commentary by the Harvard Law School graduate, who studied theology at Harvard Divinity School, is carried over the Radio America network.

Lawyer Tails

Not 12 months ago, Democrats on Capitol Hill were screaming for the Justice Department to minimize public exposure to a half-dozen or so authorized high-level officials. Too much politicization, they claimed.

”Change has come to Justice,” says a Justice Department lawyer. “Now the Executive Office of the President is directly soliciting … Justice to provide volunteers to run the White House Easter Egg Roll. You can’t make this stuff up.”

On the condition of anonymity, the lawyer provided us with his invitation: “Peter Cottontail is heading to the White House very soon. Please circulate this form to all staff … who might be interested in volunteering at the historic Easter Egg Roll on the White House South Lawn.”

More Mouseketeers

So, are you presently reading this column on printed paper or via the Internet?

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism says when it comes to obtaining the latest news, audience migration to the Internet is rapidly accelerating.

“The number of Americans who regularly go online for news jumped 19 percent in the last two years,” says Pew. “In 2008 alone, traffic to the top 50 news sites rose 27 percent.”

Written By

John McCaslin pens the award-winning Inside the Beltway column for The Washington Times. His column has been syndicated by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and Tribune Media Services.

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