Wanted: A Handle for the Scandal

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Just a few months ago, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) looked to be in fine shape to weather a new round of allegations that he'd run afoul of House ethics rules.

After all, House Republicans had neatly disemboweled the ethics committee, not known as a den of pit bulls to begin with; gotten rid of that annoying Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), who tended to take his duties seriously; and changed the rules to make it easier to dismiss complaints.

Republicans, with a well-deserved reputation for being far more loyal to their leaders than Democrats are to theirs, seemed steadfast in their support for DeLay.

But in a stunning about-face -- not to mention a show of disloyalty to the beleaguered majority leader -- the new rules have been rescinded and it appears the committee is going to investigate DeLay's fine golf trip to Scotland (allegedly funded via tribal casino money), a visit to Taiwan and another to Russia.

This could mean months of investigation. Which means months of leaks and counter-leaks in glorious Washington tradition. It also means the "scandal" needs a name. Yes, Loop Fans can help! Name this scandal!

Names ending in -gate, while not banned, will start with a 10-point penalty. Themes could include golf, casinos, Native Americans, Scotland, travel, termites, and hammers and other household tools.

For example, a colleague suggested "Agua Caliente," meaning hot water. It also is the name of a tribe -- the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, casino folks and owners of about 6,700 acres of what became Palm Springs, Calif. -- that is a former client of DeLay's close pal Jack Abramoff , a lobbyist who is also under a bit of scrutiny these days.

Send your entry -- and rationale -- via e-mail to intheloop@washpost.com or mail to In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Deadline is midnight May 13. Top 10 winners get a still-rare, highly coveted In the Loop T-shirt. Entries on background are welcome, but everyone MUST include telephone numbers to be eligible.

Time Warp?

This week marks the fifth anniversary of State Department spokesman Richard A. Boucher 's tenure at the lectern, setting a record for continuous service as top flack at Foggy Bottom.

Associated Press reporter George Gedda , a three-decade-or-so veteran of covering the department, noted that "five years ago . . . you said that if the United States can successfully address nuclear and missile sales with North Korea, we can, quote, 'move into a different kind of relationship with North Korea.' Is that still the view here?"

"That's always been the offer on the table," Boucher said.

"So there's nothing new to say over the past five years?" Gedda asked.

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