Prince William County Attorney John Foote said he was tossing and turning in bed last week, his sleep interrupted by a case of the flu, when it dawned on him -- a piece of historical trivia that Foote said he was the first to think of.
When Ronald Reagan leaves office next January, there will be five people living who have held the presidency: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Reagan and whoever is elected this fall.
Only once before -- when John Quincy Adams was inaugurated in 1825 -- have so many presidents been living at one time, the insomniac historian enthusiastically told a reporter.
One problem: Foote was wrong. In 1861, when Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated, there were six living presidents, according to Joseph Kane's "Facts About the Presidents."
"I'm crushed," said the usually erudite attorney, after being informed that all his tossing and turning had been wasted.
Just a few weeks ago, Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Kathleen K. Seefeldt (D-Occoquan) told her colleagues during a retreat that improving relations with the press should be a priority for the county government. But that may be easier in theory than in practice.
Seefeldt's own patience with the Fourth Estate seemed at an end during a recess of last week's meeting of the county board. She was fielding questions about the county's recently released list of "capital improvements needs," a list of proposed building and road projects, when her mood turned sour.
The chairman ordered one reporter to step down off the elevated seating area where the supervisors sit, and admonished another that there was no way she could answer his specific questions until she had a chance to read the $471 million list of building proposals.
The last straw came when a reporter asked Seefeldt: Since the list of public facilities projects costs millions more than the county can likely afford, why did Seefeldt last year vote for a large election-year tax cut?
"I don't have time for these questions," Seefeldt declared, and rushed off to join the other supervisors in an "executive session," which is closed to the public and the press.