Sunday, April 25, 2004

Hot Corner: Nipping at the heels of the newsmakers

Congressman packs in his own luggage

We wonder what went through the mind of U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., when he saw security agents suddenly surrounding him last Tuesday at Louisville International Airport.

The alert agents had spotted something suspicious in his carry-on luggage. The congressman was packing. The loaded 9 mm Glock semi-automatic the congressman had in a satchel was just a little something he said he keeps handy when he goes home to the wilds of Indiana's 8th District.

Hostettler was returning to Washington after a two-week visit to Indiana when the incident occurred. He later told reporters that he usually only carries the gun "for personal protection" when roving around among his constituents, and he simply forgot to take it out of the satchel when he went to the airport. These are the same constituents who have sent him to Congress for five terms.

Hostettler said the security agents were just doing their jobs, and he was just making "a stupid mistake." "Stupid" hardly seems to cover it. Was the congressman absent from the Capitol on the day Congress enacted all those new homeland security measures?

Feeling a draft

A suggestion this past week by Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., that the administration "start realistically exploring" resuming the military draft if the country is going to pursue "a generational war" against terrorism received a quick rebuttal from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. A draft, said Rumsfeld, "is not useful to do at the present time." Maybe Hagel should ask again after the election.

Trail Mix: Saving wetlands in the heartlands

As the nation celebrated Earth Day on Thursday, George W. Bush and John Kerry both turned green.

Kerry has said Bush has the worst environmental record of any president, ever. Bush responded Thursday by a 1,600-acre national estuarine research reserve near his family's compound in Maine. He announced a new federal goal of expanding the nation's wetlands over the next five years.

Kerry responded that Bush's proposal is a drop in the bucket for wetlands because the administration's existing policies would do away with 20 million acres of such land.

From Maine, Bush moved south to Florida, where he viewed another watery sanctuary on Friday with his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush.

Kerry spent Earth Day in the president's home state of Texas, attacking Bush's oil policies, which he also said were all wet.

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