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You're invited to help pay for the Bush library

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By Al Kamen
Friday, May 7, 2010

Seemed like a dream come true. A letter from former commerce secretary Donald L. Evans arrived the other day, offering an opportunity to be "among the first Americans selected to join the Freedom Registry and represent Washington, D.C., as one of the earliest and most prominent supporters of the George W. Bush Presidential Center."

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Evans, who chairs the George W. Bush Foundation, says that when the center opens on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, he wants "visitors to know that you played a key role in making our vision for this center a reality." And better still, when Bush and Laura Bush visit, they'll "see your name and know that you are a loyal supporter, a staunch ally and a good friend."

"Using the latest technologies, this innovative registry will be housed in a specially designed kiosk and will feature an interactive listing of those chosen for this special recognition," Evans explained. Sounds totally cool.

"Here's what I need you to do," he wrote, adding that "accepting this special recognition is simple." You just fill out the enclosed "registry confirmation" form and "return it to me right away, so I will know for certain" the name is spelled as you want it in the registry.

Simple enough. And then there's the second thing: "Formally accept my invitation by including . . . a special tax-deductible contribution" to the center, Evans said. All you have to do is check a box for a dollar amount -- $50 to $250 or more. (You can give less than $50, but forget the registry thing.)

When the Bushes visit, "they will see your name listed," Evans said. "In fact, I cannot wait to tell President and Mrs. Bush that you have accepted the special invitation I am extending to you today."

Hey. It's only $50. No, you will not get a special brick in the pavement.

The zeroes add up

The Education Department is working hard to get the Elementary and Secondary Education Act updated with lots of new bells and whistles. (The original ESEA was passed in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty.)

As part of the new effort, some folks at Education thought a little brochure would be just the thing to get the message out. So earlier this year they completed a glossy four-pager, complete with snappy photos of kids who look to be learning stuff, along with some graphics and a mug shot of Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

They ordered 15,000 copies, a relatively small batch in the scheme of things, from the U.S. Government Printing Office, which delivered them March 15 for $1,273.

But the department, rather then distribute them, immediately threw them away -- or, as they might prefer to say, recycled them. The brochure was replaced by a fine 41-page model titled "A Blueprint for Reform," with a cover that was -- you guessed it -- a lovely blue. This one also had a nice photo of Duncan and President Obama. And while the first one says at one point that ESEA is "currently known" as the No Child Left Behind Act (George W. Bush's signature education initiative), the new blueprint talks only about ESEA, with no mention of No Child.

We got one of the few copies in existence of the original and went over it carefully but could find no particularly serious problem that would require a thorough shredding.


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