Inside the Beltway

Article excerpt

STILL WAITING, SENATOR

During a visit to Africa in March 1998, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged in a speech at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, that the United States would provide $2 million for victims of rebel activity.

The money, Mrs. Clinton promised, would help locate thousands of abducted children and give them medical care.

Writing in her syndicated newspaper column the following week, Mrs. Clinton repeated the monetary pledge, relaying stories of children being kidnapped and tortured by the Lord's Resistance Army, a terrorist group in Sudan.

Boys are "used in battle as human shields," Mrs. Clinton wrote, while girls are raped, "often forced to kill other children who don't obey." She told of "legs being cut with either a panga or an ax," and "a young baby of a few months held in hand and beaten to death against a tree."

This week, Inside the Beltway intercepted a dispatch from Kampala: "Hillary Cash Yet to Come - Makerere University still awaits a 1998 pledge by U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton, Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof. Oplo Epelu said yesterday. Epelu . . . said the New York senator made the pledge over two years ago."

An aide to the first lady yesterday said her office was looking into the matter.

ROSIE'S HIDE

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed suit in Arlington yesterday against Rosie O'Donnell, who claims PETA approves of certain leather products.

PETA says the television host's remarks show a reckless disregard for the animal-rights group. The lawsuit comes after repeated attempts by PETA to get Rosie to "correct" her statement.

"The `Queen of Nice' has never responded," says PETA, which demands a retraction aired on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" and punitive damages of $350,000, used to educate the public about abuse suffered by cows and other animals whose skin becomes handbags and coats.

NEXT ELECTION

Don't look for our next president to enjoy a traditional "honeymoon" on Capitol Hill, although the future chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee could be a key player in the success of what honeymoon there is.

"Whoever finally moves into the White House will no doubt receive less of a honeymoon period to push his agenda than his predecessors enjoyed," opines David W. Almasi, of the National Center for Public Policy Research.

And while everybody's eyes are on Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore, yet another critical but little-noticed election between two Republican congressmen - Rep. Philip M. Crane of Illinois vs. Bill Thomas of California - is "almost as important," providing the "ways and means" for the next president. …