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It's a Scandal -- and This T-Shirt Proves It

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By Al Kamen
Monday, January 9, 2006

Loop Fans started submitting entries last week to the In the Loop Name the Abramoff Scandal Contest, confidently assuming there would have to be such a contest.

Actually, we'd thought about having one but decided not to. After all, there was a "Name that Scandal" contest last year, focusing on former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and superlobbyist Jack Abramoff .

And yet, the new entries were pretty good and the scandal seems to have broadened since then -- along with Jack's waistline. Abramoff's frontal assault on sartorial decency at his court appearance Tuesday was the last straw.

So . . . okay. The Name the Abramoff Scandal Contest will kick off 2006! Names ending in -gate, while not automatically rejected, are frowned upon.

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 Jan. 18. Top 10 winners get a still-rare, highly coveted In the Loop T-shirt. (Shown here for those who doubted their existence.) Entries on background are welcome, but everyone must include telephone numbers to be eligible.

Don't delay.

Talkin' the Talk in Texas

Almost overlooked in a week of major news . . .

President Bush said Wednesday that he will ask Congress for $114 million to teach Americans little-taught languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Hindi and Farsi. The initiative is vital, he said, because "we need intelligence officers who, when somebody says something in Arabic or Farsi or Urdu, knows what they're talking about." Diplomats also need to speak the local language.

The new funding, he told the U.S. University Presidents Summit on International Education, is needed to "defeat this notion" that the United States is "bullying" people.

People who speak the same language feel more at ease with one another, he said, noting how much easier it is to conduct foreign policy with foreign leaders who've studied here and speak English.

"In order to convince people we care about them, we've got to understand their culture and show them we care about their culture," Bush said. "When somebody comes to me and speaks Texan, I know they appreciate the Texas culture.

"I mean, somebody takes time to figure out how to speak Arabic, it means they're interested in somebody else's culture," he explained.


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