Al Kamen
Al Kamen
In the Loop

Like D.C., Toronto went up in smoke — sort of

Fred Thornhill/REUTERS - Nic Bibassis of Toronto makes his feelings about Rob Ford known a couple of days before the mayor’s admission to smoking crack.

There’s something familiar in the unfolding of the scandal involving Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who on Tuesday admitted to smoking crack. (But not all the time! And in his defense, he says he was drunk.)

Maybe it feels like deja vu because Ford’s saga has so much in common with that of Marion Barry, the former mayor and current D.C. Council member. Both men were mayors when their drug scandals broke (Barry’s was in 1989), both were apparently caught on video smoking crack, and both possess a certain bombast that makes their predicaments oh-so-entertaining.

Al Kamen

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. He began his reporting career at the Rocky Mountain News and joined The Post in 1980. He has covered local and federal courts, the Supreme Court and the State Department. Follow him on Twitter.


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Our pals at the DC Sports Bog even detected a clue that further connects the men: At his news conference/confessional Tuesday, Ford sported a tie bearing a prominent Redskins logo.

In fact, we couldn’t help finding parallels in some of the duo’s most memorable sound bites. Here’s a side-by-side comparison.

On the evidence

Barry: “B---- set me up.”

Ford: “Number one, there is no video, so that’s all I can say. You can’t comment on something that doesn’t exist.”

The reassurance

Barry: “Now, tomorrow, I can’t promise you. I can’t promise myself. It’s one day at a time.”

Ford: “I can assure people, hopefully it doesn’t happen again.”

Extenuating circumstances

Barry: “I’m a night owl.”

Ford: “Um, probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago.”

On trifling amounts of intoxicants

Barry: “Possession? With what, intent to use? That, little, that little bit, that, that little speck?

Ford: “Did I have a couple beers? Absolutely I had a couple beers.”

Blaming the media

Barry: “The Post has decided my time’s up, that’s all.”

Ford: Toronto Star reporters are “pathological liars.”

In other smoking news

Tired of those political fundraisers that promise “fun” swatting mosquitoes in the Louisiana bayous, hunting alligators or fly-fishing or maybe horseback riding?

Tired of shlepping your golf gear out to Dulles? Long for the good old days of 1920, when real politicians broke a deadlock at the Republican convention in a smoke-filled room in a Chicago hotel and gave the country none other than President Warren G. Harding?

Then return to yesteryear with House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) on Nov. 14 as he hosts a “cigars and cocktails” fundraiser for Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.). Our invite emphasizes that Diaz-Balart is also a member of that all-powerful committee. Best of all, you don’t really have to go anywhere. The event is conveniently located just steps from the House side of the Capitol. The “suggested contribution” is only $2,500 for a “host” and $1,000 to attend.

But don’t expect to be smoking one of those Cuban Behike BHK 52s at the event. Those would, of course, be illegal under the U.S. trade embargo on Cuban products. Still, maybe there will be a fine Flor de las Antillas Toro, made by Cuban emigres and voted cigar of the year in 2012 by Cigar Aficionado.

For a thousand bucks, surely they’ll have some good smokes.

A G-man moves up

FBI Director James Comey has named 25-year FBI veteran Mark Giuliano to be the agency’s new deputy director, overseeing all domestic and international investigative and intelligence activities, the bureau announced Monday. He begins Dec. 1, when Sean Joyce, the current deputy, retires.

Giuliano, who began his career as a special agent at the Washington Field Office, has a broad background in national security and counterterrorism and served as the FBI’s on-scene commander in Afghanistan, supporting U.S. Special Forces. Since August 2012, Giuliano been the special agent in charge in Atlanta.

To the land down under

Speaking of career moves, Rich Mills, after about 20 years of handling press and communications at the House and Senate, the U.S. trade rep’s office, the departments of State and Commerce, and most recently the World Bank, is headed out of town — far out of town, to Sydney, Australia — to work for the George Institute for Global Health, a scientific and research outfit working to improve health worldwide. It has projects in more than 50 countries and offices in England, India and China.

With Emily Heil

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