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Could've been shot
Inside the Beltway has received New Year's greetings from Lawrence Lindsey, former economic adviser to President Bush, who, due to a sluggish economy, was abruptly shown the door in the middle of the holiday season.
"But then, this was not a normal holiday season for us," Mr. Lindsey writes from Walt Disney World in Florida, where his family went into seclusion with Goofy, Daffy and Donald Duck.
"Some of you may have assumed that our stay at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge was a sign that Washington was starting to bug us," writes the president's fall guy. "Washington is enough to make anyone go ape after a while."
But Mr. Lindsey stresses that Mr. Bush told him it was nothing personal. After all, he quotes the president as saying, "You helped me win a tough election; you developed an economic plan that was needed and effective; you provided sound advice to me during very tough times. In short, you did your job with distinction and class, and I am most grateful."
Besides his three children, Mr. Lindsey says his wife, Sue, "is quite happy to have me at home more. At the holiday senior staff dinner at the White House she was seated next to the president and thanked him for sending me back home. She followed that up with, 'Stalin would have shot him.'"
Next up for Mr. Lindsey is establishing a consulting business, teaming up with his former deputy Marc Sumerlin, who departed the Bush camp by his own choosing in August.
"Hopefully I will be able to really take advantage of the new lower tax rates," Mr. Lindsey points out.
Saddam's bomb maker
It might not be the actual smoking gun President Bush needs to start an overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, but Saddam's bomb maker will appear on national television tonight to tell the American public everything he knows about Iraq's deadly arsenal.
Khidir Hamza spent 20 years developing Iraq's atomic weapons program [the one Saddam says doesn't exist] and tells all in the new book "Saddam's Bombmaker: The Terrifying Inside Story of the Iraqi Nuclear and Biological Weapons Agenda," co-authored by Jeff Stein, veteran Washington reporter and editor of Congressional Quarterly Homeland Security.
The story and its evidence are unlike any coming out of Iraq, for two reasons: Mr. Hamza knows so much firsthand, and he is one of only a few who has lived to tell it.
For those who haven't read "Saddam's Bombmaker," the History Channel will summarize the book tonight from 10 to 11.
It begins with the weapons developer's harrowing escape from Iraq and his first encounter with skeptical CIA agents. He then spills Iraq's beans, painting an unprecedented portrait of Saddam - his unrivaled power, drunken rages, murder of underlings and his women.
You might even spot a smoking gun or two.
A search is under way for Vietnam veterans who died as a result of their service but who do not meet the government requirements for having their names added to the 58,229 inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, or the Wall.
These additional "heroes" will be honored at the Fifth Annual In Memory Day ceremony at the Wall on April 21. More than 800 fallen veterans were recognized during past ceremonies.
"Each year, thousands of service members and civilians die as a result of Agent Orange exposure or other physical and emotional wounds from the war," explains Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which was responsible for building the Wall.
Family members and friends should obtain an application to submit names no later that Friday, Feb. 28, by calling 202/393-0090 or by visiting www.vvmf.org.
West Virginia calendar
Faced with a Medicaid-driven budget crisis, West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise is demanding cheaper "Canadian prices" on pharmaceuticals sold in his state.
But observers here in Washington say if Mr. Wise, a Democrat, looked further at the Canadian system, he'd realize that Canadian-style health care is a prescription for disaster.
Which is why Citizens for a Sound Economy tomorrow will send "Canadian Healthcare First Aid Kits" to all of West Virginia's legislators and the governor, hoping it will stop Mr. Wise's plans.
We're told the first-aid kit includes a "five-year calendar," so West Virginia citizens can schedule their emergency surgery at a pace consistent with the delays Canadian citizens must endure; and a bandage, aspirin and Alka-Seltzer, to hold them over while they wait.
*John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or email@example.com.
GRAPHIC: Lawrence Lindsey says his wife thanked the president for firing him because he can spend more time with family. [Photo by AP]