And a Wildebeest in Every Pot

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) wanted to treat hungry refugees to wildebeest.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) wanted to treat hungry refugees to wildebeest. (By Gerald Herbert -- Associated Press© The Walt Disney Company)
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By Al Kamen
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sometimes even the most altruistic notions come to naught. Take the nifty idea of Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) to help the neediest of the needy: the 230,000 refugees in Chad who have fled the slaughter in Darfur and are desperately in need of food.

Hunter's staff contacted the embassy in N'Djamena, Chad, last week to see whether he could distribute food at a camp. Hunter also wanted to put together an outing to hunt wildebeest and distribute the meat to refugees.

The embassy was decidedly lukewarm. It worried about logistics and the need to divert scarce staff to coordinate Hunter's schedule. There also were concerns about coordinating with the World Food Program's distribution schedule. The embassy sought advice from Foggy Bottom as to what to tell Hunter, a former presidential candidate who will leave Congress at the end of this term.

Here's State's response last week: "Talking Points Regarding CODEL Hunter":

· The embassy "welcomes Congressman Hunter's interest in food assistance to Darfur refugees in Chad. Given the significant" U.S. aid in the world program, the embassy "would encourage the congressman to time his visit to coincide with an already scheduled food distribution."

· The embassy will "make the necessary arrangements for" Hunter to watch a food distribution in a camp.

· "Regarding the Congressman's desire to hunt wildebeest and distribute the cured meat to refugees, wildebeest are not present in Chad." (We're told some have been there, mostly in a no-hunting wildlife refuge.)

And, in case Hunter was looking for other game:

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