Our Canadian friends are at it again. A few months ago, a top aide to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien was forced to quit after calling the Leader of the Free World a "moron." On Wednesday, parliament member Carolyn Parrish, not knowing some microphones were on after talking to reporters about Iraq, said: "Damn Americans. I hate those bastards."

The Toronto Liberal quickly apologized, saying, "My comments do not reflect my personal opinion of the American people and they certainly do not reflect the views of the government of Canada." She apologized yesterday to Parliament and to U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci.

So this was her "personal opinion" of President Bush? Or maybe it wasn't her opinion at all and someone channeled into her brain?

This keeps happening and Americans will think the Canadians really don't like us and think we're either stupid or bastards -- or both. Hmmm . . . You know, that timber tariff is a piddling 27 percent. Surely that could be ratcheted up.

The Axle of Evil

The Canadians would do well not to misoverestimate Bush. Outlining the case for war Wednesday night, the president explained how we would restore democracy in Iraq.

"There was a time when many said that the cultures of Japan and Germany were incapable of sustaining democratic values," he said. "Well, they were wrong. Some say the same of Iraq today. They are mistakened."

More Like the Marine Corps

Some critics say Bush's zeal for running Iraq and transforming it into a democracy sounds just like the nation-building efforts he campaigned against.

On Oct. 11, 2000, then-Texas Gov. Bush said: "I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I'm missing something here. I mean, we're going to have kind of a nation-building corps from America? Absolutely not."

But yesterday White House press secretary Ari Fleischer proved the critics wrong once again. "During the campaign, the president did not express, as you put it, disdain for nation-building," he said. So there you have it.

Mete the Press

Speaking of Bush . . . For those keeping track, today marks 113 days since he had an actual, full-fledged news conference, as opposed to those photo-ops or joint ones with foreign leaders.

On the other hand, he's only had seven news conferences in his 26 months in office, or one every 110 days or so, so he's only three days behind his average. Well, there's not much news to talk about.

Door Closing on Potentate

Don't forget: Wednesday's the deadline for the In the Loop Pick the Potentate contest. This is to help the administration find the perfect regent to run postwar Iraq.

Send in your nomination -- only one -- along with a very brief rationale to In the Loop, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or via e-mail to loop@washpost.com. Please include your name, occupation and work and home telephone numbers. Winners get that beautiful In the Loop mug.

DCI, Burma and D.C.

The Burmese military regime failed last year to improve its ties with the United States and get "certified" for its anti-narcotics programs, but it wasn't for lack of a solid effort by its lobbyists, DCI Associates.

DCI's filings with the Justice Department offer an unusual glimpse into the efforts by the Rangoon junta. DCI lobbyists, featuring Charles Francis, a longtime family friend of the Bushes, ran a sophisticated campaign to improve the regime's image -- and steer the conversation away from its rampant human rights abuses and such.

Francis, a prominent Republican, even set up two meetings with White House National Security Council Southeast Asia director Karen B. Brooks -- an unusual feat given that Burma is under U.S. sanctions and its top officials are barred from coming here -- to tout Burma's cooperation on anti-drug, HIV/AIDs and anti-terrorism efforts and in finding the remains of U.S. soldiers from World War II.

Francis, along with Barry M. Broman, a retired U.S. government employee who was stationed in Rangoon, lobbied lawmakers and staff on the Hill, including Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), as well as Defense Department officials and think-tankers such as former U.N. ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick.

The campaign was on the verge of success -- the State Department was about to certify the regime -- but the administration backed off amid pressure from the Hill, human rights groups and the media.

DCI's work for Burma, which was to last a year, ended shortly after the debacle. So the Burmese, who paid DCI $340,000 for eight months of work, are looking for another PR/lobby firm.

Mr. Washington

And now, the hardest working man in Washington. It is, beyond question, Eduardo Aguirre Jr. He's vice chairman of the Ex-Im Bank -- a full-time job -- and acting director of the bureau of citizenship and immigration services, another full-time job, at the critical Department of Homeland Security.

Even so, he found time, during a "high alert," no less, to take a week to go to Thailand to talk to business groups about trade and transportation security and to attend an Asia Pacific-Economic Cooperation forum meeting. He left Friday and is expected back in Washington today.