What a Scandal to Miss out on Bill's Capitol

Daily Mail (London), March 28, 1998 | Go to article overview
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What a Scandal to Miss out on Bill's Capitol


Byline: PAUL MANSFIELD

by Paul Mansfield TRUE, the President isn't really the President but an actor on the weekly Scandal Tour of the Capital. But this hilarious bus tour is a must on Washington DC's tourist circuit.

Passengers are driven past the capital's most notorious sights, including the Watergate complex, home to Monica Lewinsky, where 'Bill Clinton' pops up to 'catatonically deny all charges relating to that woman'.

Bill may have been a fake, but the Moon was the real thing. In the District of Columbia's National Air and Space Museum, a tiny chip of dark-green lunar rock is one of the prize exhibits, yours to touch.

You can also see the Apollo 11 command module which brought back the rock, step inside the enormous cylinder of Skylab or simulate landing a fighter plane on an aircraft carrier in heavy seas.

Washington - once as notorious for a high crime rate as its politics - is cleaning up its act.

Rundown parts of the city are being restored, a new Metro system makes getting around easy and safe and red-capped volunteers patrol the streets, offering advice and information.

And, as you'd expect from a city built on power, DC is full of impressive public buildings.

Capitol Hill, home to the Senate and the House of Representatives, dominates one end of the Mall which runs through the heart of the city. Lined by the free museums of the Smithsonian Institution, in the middle is the plain obelisk of the Washington Monument, with spectacular views from the top, especially at night.

At the other end lies the Lincoln Memorial, in which the 16th President sits brooding above the famous quote promising government 'of, by and for the people'.

NATURALLY, all visitors eventually find their way to the White House.

This is smaller than it looks on TV but is pretty as a picture. Security is light - or perhaps just well-hidden - with visitors allowed to walk surprisingly close to the house itself.

But there's more to Washington than famous buildings. The historic district of Georgetown is crammed with bookstores, restaurants and boutiques.

But it's difficult to avoid politics entirely.

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Washington lives, eats and breathes politics, and every one of its residents seems to have an opinion on the matter.

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