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They Don't Know Why They Did the Things They Did

Cher joins Mark Meaders while his father, Bob Meaders, testifies before a House Armed Services subcommittee. The elder Meaders started Operation Helmet and has helped raise about $800,000 to make Marine helmets safer.
Cher joins Mark Meaders while his father, Bob Meaders, testifies before a House Armed Services subcommittee. The elder Meaders started Operation Helmet and has helped raise about $800,000 to make Marine helmets safer. (By Chip Somodevilla -- Getty Images)

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Next stop on the Turn-Back-Time tour: Olsson's book shop on 7th Street Northwest, where Gore was signing books at noon. "I'm not supposed to say anything, just sign books," he announced when he started. But when he got to number 214 in the line, he noticed the lanky figure and stood up. "Nice to see you! How you doing? . . . I'm really so grateful to you for coming by."

After more pleasantries, Gore scribbled a line in the book: "For my friend, Ralph Nader. With respect, Al Gore."

Nader was smitten. "He's liberated!" Nader said. "He's defining what progressive Democrats should be about."

Had they reached such a rapport six years ago, Gore might have won the election in 2000, as two men in line reminded Nader. "Thanks to you, we had Bush all these years," said one. "How many are dead in Iraq because of that?"

La de da de de. La de da de da.

Back on the Hill, both houses of Congress were in a raucous, backward-looking debate about the war in Iraq. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) tried to Turn Back Time to 2003. "This is a blunder of historic proportions," he said of the war.

Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) went back even further back in time: "The historic blunder is that we didn't confront the problem in the 1990s."

Disgusted with the proceedings, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) advised any Iraqi parliamentarians watching on television: "Don't try this at home."

The Senate attempted a more forward-looking debate: a resolution calling for most troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year. But it was difficult to take the senators seriously: A third of them wore blue-and-white striped suits in honor of "Seersucker Thursday," making the floor of the Senate resemble a Good Humor convention.

"If we were to cut and run," said Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), wearing a seersucker suit and white shoes, "bloody civil war would result." Frist returned to his office, where free ice cream was being served to all.

The Senate dispensed with the Iraq debate quickly, freeing the lawmakers to attend the annual congressional picnic at the White House.

La de da de de. La de da de da.

With everybody else living in the past, Cher herself seemed to be enjoying the present yesterday, as lawmakers fussed over her.

At the hearing room, signs on chairs dictated the seating: "Reserved Army;" "Reserved Navy;" "Reserved Cher."

"I'm waiting for Cher!" a star-struck Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) boasted to a colleague as he stood near the elevator. "Do you know who I'm waiting for?" he asked another.

Lawmakers besieged the singer when she emerged, in blue sunglasses and a black suit. Mike Conaway (R-Tex.) invited her to take a trip with him to Germany and Iraq, "whenever you want."

"I'd love to," Cher said politely.

Afterward, the giddy Conaway told an aide: "She said she'd do it!"

But will she wear fishnet?


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