Sears, Roebuck & Co. promised to deliver to Consumer Product Safety Commissioner R. David Pittle's doorstep 8,000 hair driers--all made with asbestos.
Corning Glass Works gave Pittle a coffee pot--one that was recalled by the safety commission several years ago after it was declared unsafe.
Meanwhile, a host of Pittle's other "friends" handed the commissioner a series of barbs last night about his name, his clothes and his politics as they came to celebrate his 10 years at the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
More than 200 of the nation's leading consumer advocates and corporate lobbyists came to bury, not to praise Pittle at the Virginia Citizens Consumer Council's "Roast a Regulator."
"This is a roast, not a bar mitzvah," said Michael Pertschuk, a Federal Trade Commission member who was moderator of the roast. "This is a rare opportunity to show our love and admiration for David by being mean," Pertschuk said. Lest anyone forget, Pertschuk reminded the audience that Pittle is "Nixon's last holdover," among the few government officials left who were appointed by President Nixon.
Although all the consumer advocates were expecting to lose a good friend in government when Pittle's term at the commission expires this fall, there was not a note of sadness in the air at the Hospitality House in Crystal City.
Instead it was all laughter and good natured jokes.
Pittle has been at the commission so long he "may be filed at the Library of Congress as a historical resource," noted Bob McCleary, manager for consumer affairs at Corning Glass.
"Never before have so many said so little," Pittle retorted at the end. What's more, Pittle said he appreciated the roast's "excellent sense of timing." If it had been much later, "there wouldn't be any regulators left to roast."
Pittle thanked his friends for the barbs and the gifts. "I'll be glad to find 8,000 hair driers on my doorstep," he said, "because I have yet to find one at home that works."