Betsy Reike, assistant secretary-designate for water and science at the Interior Department, has her priorities straight. When she heard that there were posters of scantily clad women hanging in a locker room in a private gym located in the same building as the Interior Department, she grabbed an aide, marched down to the gym, and took the posters. Said one gym member, "It was someone who didn't belong to the club, was never in there using the facilities. There was never a complaint. They just confiscated private property." Of course. They're Clinton appointees.
Speaking of Clinton appointees, let's take a little test. Assume that you are vertically challenged Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. The latest employment figures show that the economy created 365,000 new jobs in the past month. Good news or bad? Bad. Your president is fighting for a jobs bill that's already in political trouble; this makes it seem irrelevant. What do you do? Lie. Reich released the figures but told reporters that 90 percent of the jobs were part-time. As department economists later reminded Reich, that estimate may be true (although that's highly unlikely), but he had no way of knowing. The department doesn't collect that information.
Michigan state Rep. William Bryant's new book, Quantum Politics, urges politicians to use force-field analysis and soul travel to help solve the nation's problems. Republican Bryant raised eyebrows a few years ago when he claimed to be part mountain lion.
Consumer Action warns that some 900 numbers are defrauding their customers: "Despite highly suggestive titles and pictures of half-naked women in many ads, the services provide only tame, nonsexual conversation."
In South Dakota, the state Supreme Court has ruled that a drunk found sleeping behind the wheel of a car may be convicted of drunken driving, even if the car isn't running and the person has the ignition key in his pocket. Next, maybe they'll hold that a person can be arrested for assault if he looks at someone else menacingly.
A woman wrote to the Ojai (California) Valley News complaining of sexual harassment…against her cat. Seems a neighborhood tomcat tried to "rape" her queen. It left the kitty "terrified and afraid." What do you want to bet the tomcat learned its behavior at home?
In Great Britain, Prime Minister John Major has sued the magazine New Statesman & Society for libel. This comes after a story in the journal that examined rumors of marital infidelity by Major. Major denounced the article as "completely untrue." The article concluded that the rumors were completely unfounded.
The Iowa state legislature has voted to exempt unmarked police cars from a requirement that all government vehicles bear a sticker promoting ethanol. Seems crooks were picking out the cars by the sticker.
The group Beyond Beef is criticizing McDonald's for hypocrisy. Seems the group found out that McDonald's is testing two new super-large burgers. Beyond Beef says that this contradicts McDonald's claims of trying to provide healthier foods. But the McLean, which McDonald's introduced to combat criticism from groups like Beyond Beef, has bombed. McDonald's customers, it seems, want big, fatty burgers.
The Department of Health and Human Services last year began auditing the books of 261 major universities for expenses improperly billed to the federal government. The biggest offender was the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with $10.5 million in unallowable billings. This included charges for maid services and fresh flowers at the residence of the university's chief executive officer. The report arrived just in time to meet the new HHS secretary, and former chief executive officer of the University of Wisconsin, Donna Shalala.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".