The state of Washington has struck back.
Last December, I revealed in this space (as my columnizing neighbor Jack Anderson might put it) that the Evergreen State is the only one in the union that doesn't have a street in the Nation's Capital named for it.
Sure, sure, there's Washington Circle. And Washington Drive along the Mall. But they're named for George, not for the state that made Boeing famous.
Why hasn't the Washington of the West gotten its asphalt due? "It would have been redundant," explained a House District Committee staffer.
Well, the big cheese out in Olympia, Wash., says nuts to that kind of thinking.
"We are now moving ahead with an aggressive campaign to wrestle justice from the grip of historical apathy," said Gov. John Spellman in a letter to me.
"The people of Washington State salute you for your courageous stance in calling for the naming of a District of Columbia street in our honor . . . Herewith please accept the thanks of the 4.2 million Washingtonians, who hunger only for equal standing."
Now, before you choke on your orange juice, let me make it clear that Gov. Spellman isn't just blowing smoke. Unlike many politicians in the Washington of the East, he put his money where his rhetoric is.
Onto a plane went the governor's trusted Counselor, Ed Devine. He was coming to town on other official business. The Governor instructed him to meet with the hard-heads in the District Building while he was here and to try to reason with them.
Ed did so two weeks ago. Like Peter Minuit preparing to deal with the Manhattan Indians, Ed brought with him a peace offering: a case of Washington Delicious apples and a bottle of Washington champagne.
"I told Mayor (Marion) Barry that if he would look on our cause favorably, I'd make it one apple and one case of champagne the next time," Ed said later.
But Barry wasn't about to be stampeded, especially not in an election year. He promised to consider the governor's request and to reply as soon as he could. According to Dwight Cropp, his executive secretary, the reply is still being drafted.
What's it going to say? "Let's wait till it's finished and made public," Cropp replied.
Well, Dwight, you'd better get busy. For Gov. Spellman has promised "economic sanctions" unless the state of Washington gets its street.
What kinds of sanctions? Happily, Gov. Spellman has ruled out a military invasion. He has decided instead to hit us where it hurts: in the reputation.
The state tourism office recently placed a series of full-page, full-color ads in West Coast magazines.
The scenery they depict is breathtaking.
So is the gall.
"WASHINGTON WATERGATE," screeches the heading on one ad. Hunting through the message, you discover that they're talking about the rivers and sounds of Washington State. At the bottom, to twist the knife a little, it says: "See America's Other Washington." The implication is that the only bug you'd find in Watergate West is one that buzzed past your ear.
"WASHINGTON'S FIRST LADY," declares the heading on another ad in the series. The reference isn't to Nancy Reagan. There, in living color, is a photo of Mt. St. Helens. It seems a little excessive to place the president's wife in the same league as a smoldering mountain that killed scores of people when it erupted. But obviously, Gov. Spellman and his copywriters are playing for keeps.
Nevertheless, their cause is just. To repeat what I said in December:
Does Potomac Avenue SE really show its name to best advantage? Especially since the street runs nowhere near the Potomac River?
Couldn't the name of Central Avenue SE stand a little sprucing up? Especially since the street isn't central to much of anything except downtown Landover, Md.?
Couldn't Ridge Road SE bite the dust? Or Park Road NW? Or Fairlawn Avenue SE? Or Division Avenue NE?
Let's give the governor his wish, District Building. We have to stop those ads somehow.