? "Could Carter sink lower?" was far and away the most popular inquiry in the nation's capital as the summer drew on. The answer, of course, was always, "I don't see how," but by the end of July the ingenious chief executive had shown them. Even prior to the command performances of his Camp David soul-searching week-long intensive (conducted by public-image therapist Gerald Rafshoon) and his No-More-Mr.-Nice-Guy solo in the Energy Crisis II national television production, Jimmy's job-performance ratings set a record as the most minuscule "ever recorded by any president in modern political history." This becomes all the more remarkable when you remember that we've really had some dogs.
? Just by way of requiem, the president's grandiose energy message was noteworthy on a couple of grounds. First, it was curious that he failed to mention that, if any of his previous energy message ("the moral equivalent of war") had lived up to one promise in ten, there could be no 1979 energy "crisis." Second, the administration's major contribution to the energy debate seems to have been endorsed for the countless time: that it feels its mission is to convince the American public that an energy "crisis" actually exists. That the administration experts have so diligently imposed price controls and federal allocations to "improve" market processes indicates that they, at least, truly believe that it is necessary not only for the government to point out the crisis but to make damn well and sure it does exist, too. Third, the New Jimmy was even more ridiculous, throwing his limbs about and hurling stern glances yon and hither, than the Old Jimmy, shoving his insurance salesman-smile everywhere the cameras moved and making everyone think that his teeth have a glandular problem. The whole act this time out appeared to be Jimmy Carter's impression of Richard M. Nixon; impersonating ol' Tricky brings up an entirely new line of questions, however. And fourth, and most important, observers who claimed to have stayed awake and semialert for the entire talk show report that the commander-in-chief made no less than six appeals for God's help. That just might tip us off as to the success that even the program's author has envisioned for it.
? Elsewhere, the world was far more normal. In China, for example, the old socialist ways have reasserted themselves in forceful fashion, as demonstrated by the increasingly frequent brawls involving natives and visiting African students. In a recent clash, a gang of Chinese scholars flew revolutionary banners condemning "Black Devils," as they held the foreign students without food or water for three days. The African students, who "fear for their lives," have been moved to a hotel 30 miles outside of Peking for their own protection. The battle started when the black students were accused of playing their radios too loudly.
? A warning has been issued to female health activists: Dr. Allan G. Charles of Michael Reese Medical Center states unequivocally, "Women are not built for jogging." The reason for this is that "the female bony pelvis is much wider than the man's. Further, the muscular and connective tissue supports of the female pelvis are often weakened by childbirth, and therefore the uterus is not well enough supported to withstand the repeated impact (in jogging) caused by heels striking ground." Dr. Charles did not, however, find any health problems for females with such other activities as cooking, sewing, diapering, making babies, and disco-roller skating.
? Always privy to the latest technological breakthroughs in science, the Coast Guard has deep-sixed its radar and captured some high-intelligence pigeons to man a new search technique. The purpose is to spot floating objects in water, a helpful ability when going out to rescue a drunken yachtsman lost at sea. After being given a special training course, the pigeons outperform humans. Says a Coast Guard pilot: "The pigeons are easy to train and are too stupid to get bored." Of course, if pigeons become too expensive, we could always sign up a few Congresspersons.
? Speaking of that fabled institution (lots of fables are told in Congress), the Honorable Charles Diggs (D-Mich.) has altruistically offered to pay back the $40,031.66 he stole from the federal treasury. This offer of uncharacteristic honesty was accompanied by a pledge not ever to do it again. If he did do it again, he would presumably once more give it back and make another pledge. Diggs was only recently arguing that this whole incident had arisen just because he was black; apparently it has become obvious even to Mr. Diggs that not all black people steal. Diggs's act of state that led to the troubles involved taking kick-backs from several of his aides, whose salaries would be raised by the statesman for just this purpose. A mortician from Detroit, Diggs can now claim complete competence over the profitable administration of both of life's inevitabilities: death and taxes.
? Bo Weaver, one of this nation's brightest young people and a disc jockey, locked himself into the sound studio at WTTM in Trenton, New Jersey, so that he could play, without commercial interruption, the lively tune "Cheaper Crude or No More Food" for 10 consecutive hours. The inspiration is thought to have touched off rioting in nearby Levittown, Pennsylvania. And, in a less sophisticated spirit of protest, 23 people with the gift of memory tossed one symbolic stone apiece across Colorado Highway 6-24. The festivities were designed to make "Country Boy" singer and 4-H Club hero John Denver blush. Denver, who in 1975 tossed similarly shaped stones across Glenwood Canyon to protest the building of a proposed four-lane highway, has just sunk a 4,000-gallon gas storage tank in his backyard and put three more 2,000-gallon tanks on order. The protestors thought it was hypocritical to "sing about the virtues of environmentalism while hoarding gasoline." Doubting John Denver's sincerity, however, will surely prove a losing game. Better to invest some time thinking up more romantic reasons for his wanting to keep other people from coming in, while making very certain that he can get out.
? If you haven't checked your portfolio lately, you may be richer than you think. The United Nations has just approved a draft treaty that promises that the moon's riches will be equally shared by all mankind.
? And in a display of the rigors of Washington life and the subtleties of great leadership, President Carter called upon Sen. Mark Hatfield to begin a Camp David energy pow-wow with a group prayer. Facing the president, the Oregon orator cleverly began with "Almighty Father." But the ever-alert Sen. J. Bennett Johnson from Louisiana, unaware that the speaker was delivering a prayer, turned to those at his table and reflected, "That's taking leadership seriously."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".