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Inside the Beltway has learned that the Department of Homeland Security was alerted to a security incident that occurred Nov. 18 involving Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, the outspoken Texas Democrat who serves on the Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence, information sharing and terrorism risk assessment.
Mrs. Jackson-Lee, we learn from DHS correspondence, was going through security at George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport in Texas when the alarm sounded not once, but twice. As with other passengers, she was then placed in a queue for followup screening, at which time she “complained” about the process.
The congresswoman proceeded to retrieve her personal carry-on items, although a Transportation Security Administration officer informed her that she would have to be re-screened first, at which point the lawmaker continued to complain.
Other officials stepped in, and the congresswoman eventually was persuaded to return to the screening gate to complete the safety process.
The heart of a busy capital like Washington is the last place one would expect to find the 26-yearold grandson of legendary explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau working hard to enhance what he calls “our water planet.”
Philippe Cousteau, with mother Jan and sister Alexandra, founded EarthEcho International in 2000 in honor of his late father, explorer Philippe Cousteau Sr., who died in a plane crash in 1979. The group’s mission, in short, is to empower individuals to take action to sustain and enhance not just the oceans, but the entire planet.
When not at EarthEcho’s headquarters on 16th Street Northwest, Mr. Cousteau frequently lectures around the world, is chief ocean correspondent for Discovery’s Animal Planet Channel, recalls his many adventures over National Public Radio, is founder and president of a media group, and produces and directs documentaries.
Indeed, Steve Irwin, the Australian “Crocodile Hunter” who died two months ago from a stingray barb off Australia’s north coast, was in the area to film segments for “The Ocean’s Deadliest” with Mr. Cousteau.
“He was an amazing guy; it was a freak tragedy, and God took him from us way too early,” Mr. Cousteau tells Inside the Beltway, adding that the production the two were working on together and “cohosting” will air Jan. 21 (on Discovery Channel and Animal Planet) “as a tribute to him.”
Mr. Cousteau came to the Washington area two years ago, settling in Pentagon City in Arlington, Va. and promptly disposing of his car.
“I’m right on the Metro, and my office is on the Metro downtown,” he explains. “I really like the city. It’s a great place for what we do, it has wonderful people for what we do, but unfortunately I’m gone too much. [. . .] I’m probably traveling two-thirds of the time.”
He says that being a “communicator and storyteller, bringing people exciting and inspirational adventure stories, just like my father and grandfather did,” is the highlight of his work.
“I’m dedicating my life to the spirit of my father and grandfather, to make this world a better place for everybody, and I mean everybody,” Mr. Cousteau says. “People often forget that. They think caring for the environment is all about tree-huggers, wind chimes and Birkenstocks. It’s not.”
The Senate has approved a resolution remembering Minnesota’s late Sen. Paul Wellstone for his leadership, and in doing so Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin recalled one of the last votes cast by his Democratic colleague.
“I can recall the last time I saw him. He was a few feet away from me here. It was the night we cast our vote on the Iraqi war,” Mr. Durbin said. “It was a vote that was a hard one . [. . .]
“Twenty-three of us voted against the war that night. I was one, Paul Wellstone was another [. . .] and I came to the well on the floor to say goodbye to Paul because we were both off for the re-election campaigns of four years ago. I came over to wish him well, and I said, ‘Paul, I hope that vote doesn’t cost you the election.’
“He said, ‘You know, it is OK if it does because that is what I believe and that is who I am.’ [. . .] It was the last time I ever saw him. He went home, and within two weeks, he was killed in a plane crash with his wife and staff members.”
“It says something about John Kerry that he’s ranked below a guy who says he isn’t even running,” concludes the latest Political Derby 2008 Power Rankings (PoliticalDerby.com), one of the more intriguing tracking services for the current race for the White House.
Here are the latest odds and observations, beginning with Republicans:
1. John McCain: “For now, McCain clings to the top spot, but the horses behind him are picking up serious steam as we round the quarter pole.”
2. Mitt Romney: “He recently took his first shot, referring to McCain’s position on gay marriage as ‘disingenuous’ and positioning himself as the only top-tier candidate on the right side of immigration, campaign reform and detainee interrogation.”
3. Rudolph W. Giuliani: “Rudy is the nicest-looking horse on the farm, but will primary and caucus voters feel the same after a full physical?”
4. Newt Gingrich: “The grassroots loves him and every other horse will be whining for his support and endorsement.”
Remaining horses, in order of rank, are Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Mike Pence, Sen. Bill Frist, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Rep. Duncan Hunter, and Sen. George Allen.
As for Democratic horses jockeying for position:
1. Hillary Rodham Clinton: “Hillary has occupied this spot since day one of our rankings, but the distance between the 800pound horse and the field has shrunk considerably.”
2. John Edwards: “He’s refining his message nicely and appears more deliberate than in ’04.”
3. Barack Obama: Is the ‘Obamamania Show’ already off the schedule? The tip sheet has seen Fox sitcoms last longer.”
4. Bill Richardson: “He’s showing some teeth, getting active online, and his resume is unmatched on the track.”
The rest of the field, in order, includes Sen. Evan Bayh, Al Gore, Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, Sen. Russ Feingold, and Mr. Kerry.
The Hillary Monument
What with all the new monuments and memorials fighting for space on an already crowded National Mall, we are reassured to discover that New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton “already has a memorial in her name there — a modest one, but doubtless capable of enlargement.”
So noted Inside the Beltway reader John Lockwood, who sent us scurrying Nov. 27 to the trunk of a huge white oak tree that shades part of the Department of Agriculture headquarters near 14th Street and Jefferson Drive Southwest, across from the Washington Monument.
One even finds a bronze tablet at the base of the tree, bearing these words uttered by the Democrat and former first lady: “As we enter the new millennium, we will not simply be celebrating a new year, we will be celebrating the enduring strength of democracy, the renewal of our sense of citizenship, and the full flowering of the American mind and spirit.”
The tablet says the tree was dedicated to Mrs. Clinton by Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman on Dec. 15, 1999.
That would be syndicated columnist Cal Thomas returning Nov. 28 to his alma mater, American University, to lecture a class taught by his “Fox News Watch” colleague, Jane Hall.
Miss Hall, a respected authority on politics and journalism, also invited Mr. Thomas’ favorite and most influential professor, back when the budding columnist was the man on campus.
“He is Bill Cromwell, who taught a diplomatic history of Europe course and another history course, both of which I took,” Mr. Thomas says. “He made me fall in love with history, not only because of his in-depth knowledge of the subject, but his incredible enthusiasm for it and his teaching skills.” Teaching skills? “He would be in perpetual motion in class and rarely use notes,” Mr. Thomas explains. “He spoke so fast that sometimes I fell behind in taking notes, put down my pen and just watched the academic equivalent of ‘performance art.’ ”
The columnist graduated from American in 1968, “but I was on an eight-year program, what with flunking out as a freshman and going into the Army for ‘65 and ‘66. Ah, those were the days.”
For the record, Mr. Thomas says the good professor “is not responsible for my politics.”
During a recent keynote address in London, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox turned to a parable when admonishing the International Organization of Securities Commissioners on why “we have no choice but to cooperate” during a global investing era that is fraught with fraud.
“You might think of it as Rousseau’s dilemma,” said Mr. Cox, referring to today’s temptation by regulators to attract investors and issuers by relaxing standards — at the expense of the other jurisdictions.
“Two centuries ago, the philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau [told] the story of five hunters who come together in a forest, at a time when each one of them is desperate with hunger. If they can kill a stag, it will provide enough to save all of them. But they will all have to cooperate in order to trap it,” Mr. Cox said.
“It’s also the case, however, that the hunger of any one of them will be satisfied by a hare. And sure enough, just as the hunters are about to succeed in trapping the stag, a hare comes within reach of one of the hunters, and he grabs it [. . .] and satisfying his own hunger, the hunter permits the stag to escape — and the others go hungry.”
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, has a white oak tree dedicated to her on the National Mall.