The Senate Republicans' proposal to add a 13th month in order to pay for social programs and yet stay within tight spending limits is drawing high praise--at least for creativity.
But it's going to be a tough sell with the voters unless they solve one important problem: What's the new month to be called? A catchy name might help the accounting trick gain support.
So, to help out, we announce--what else?--the First Annual In the Loop Name That Month Contest. Yes, simply come up with an appropriate name for America's new 13th month and we'll pass it on to the Senate for consideration.
Send your suggestions via e-mail to Loop@Washpost.com or via regular mail to In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.
The top 10 winners, in addition to bragging rights and a mention on this page, will receive those magnificent new blue and white In the Loop coffee mugs. A true collector's item not sold in stores anywhere. Deadline is Sept. 24.
Meanwhile, Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), "endorsing" the GOP proposal, already has a name for the new month. "Orwellian," Obey suggested yesterday. The first line in Orwell's "1984" reads: "It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking 13. . . ."
Obey also had a Top 10 list of advantages of a 13th month, including: "Everyone can immediately take 8 percent off their age," or "it could add 30 more shopping days until Christmas" or delay the Y2K problem by one month.
Best of all, Obey said, "It could prove the Middle Ages critics of Galileo correct when they denied his theory that the earth circled the sun once every 12 months. Then they could thus join the Kansas school board in helping turn the clock back."
Senate Sergeant Tests His Medal
Senators get a constant stream of trinkets, photos, hats and other odd items from constituents, lobbyists and random folk. But some Senate Democrats were taken aback this week when they received a special commemorative pin from Sergeant at Arms James W. Ziglar in appreciation of their efforts during the impeachment trial.
"To add yet another item to your collection of memorabilia," Ziglar wrote, "I am enclosing a pin commemorating the Impeachment Trial. This pin is one of a limited edition that I had made as a personal thank you to the many Sergeant at Arms employees and others who worked so diligently during the trial.
"Please note that each pin is individually numbered and that your pin number reflects your seniority," Ziglar said, adding that the pins were not produced at government expense.
"I hope you will enjoy this small token of my appreciation for the honor of serving the Senate as Sergeant at Arms," he wrote.
This is the ultimate in tackiness. Flabbergasted Democrats were left sputtering. "First they try to hijack the presidency and then they send us a pin?" one aide to a senior Democrat said. "Unbelievable."
Buchanan's Low-Fat Diet
Joke making the rounds yesterday amongst the Hill Republicans: What's the difference between Pat Buchanan and a cannibal?
Cannibals only eat their enemies.
Landlords Don't Grant Concessions
There goes the neighborhood . . . Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) is circulating a joint resolution "deploring the actions of President Clinton in granting clemency" to the Puerto Rican Armed Forces of National Liberation terrorists. Lott cites the State Department's long-standing "tenants of counterterrorism policy" against granting concessions and making deals and says Clinton's offer violated those "long-standing tenants." Clinton should have extended their lease?
Harvesting the Flax
In the category of Democratic revolving spinmeisters . . . Tovah Ravitz, who worked for Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and more recently did press for Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, is back on the Hill, this time as communications director for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). She's replacing Rex Carney, who went private. Jennifer Frost, who worked for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and then went private, has returned as top flack, replacing Patrick Dorgan, who went to the White House National Economic Council. Lisa Finkel, who worked for Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), has moved over to run communications for Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), replacing David E. Seldin, who went to a PR firm. Patricia Murphy, office manager for Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) in Atlanta and then deputy press secretary for Sen. Richard H. Bryan (D-Nev.), is now Cleland's press secretary. Jack Pannell, formerly doing press for Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), is now press secretary for Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).
CAPTION: The sergeant at arms sent this pin commemorating Clinton impeachment trial to Democratic senators.