GOP Woes

It’s increasingly looking like the GOP is heading towards a real drubbing at the polls next year.

Democratic operatives already are jubilant at the prospect of a repeat of the 1994 balloting, when dissatisfied voters last turned out incumbents and handed the House to Newt Gingrich’s Republicans.

What’s helping the Democrats is Republican rage at their leaders. Fiscal conservatives are irate at Washington’s big-spending ways and evangelical Republicans are searching for action on promised social reforms.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., astonished his colleagues by telling George Washington University College Republicans that the outcome of the 2006 elections doesn’t matter. “It’s OK if the Republicans lose control … In the long run … one (election) cycle won’t make a difference, two cycles won’t make a difference.”

If any male can wear a tutu, it’s a sweaty Marine.

Leathernecks looking for a T-shirt that keeps the body cool and dry under body armor in 100 degree Fahrenheit desert weather are getting new “Elite Issue” undershirts made by tutu-manufacturer Danskin.

Carol Hochman, president of Danksin, says her company’s products already have wider use than just yoga and dancewear, and that Danskin undershirts already allow operatives in Mickey Mouse and Goofy costumes to stay cool under Florida heat at Disney venues. Troops tried the new olive-drab Danskin T-shirts in Iraq’s withering climate, and raved about them.

There’s another plus: the Danskin T-shirts are treated with an anti-microbial, which does away with sweat odors, leaving the troops smelling as sweet at day’s end as they smelled in the morning.

Rep. Jake Flake, R-Ariz., was one of only two lawmakers to vote against a measure commemorating National Chemistry Week. He explained he’s fed up with voting on inconsequential issues. “One would think that with important issues before the Congress, trivial resolutions like this ought to go over like a Pb (lead) balloon. Frankly, this bill didn’t hold H2O.” The bill passed 366-2.

The Bartholdi fountain at the foot of Capitol Hill is teetering on its rusting foundations and can’t be put back into operation unless taxpayers come up with $4.3 million to fix it, the architect of the Capitol says.

The massive structure, named for Statue of Liberty sculptor Frederick Auguste Bartholdi, cost only $6,000 when it was bought in the 19th century and underwent an extensive overhaul and replumbing in 1986. But recent tests found the structure unstable because two of the three massive bolts holding it to its base are rusted through, and the architect has ordered the water turned off.

Red-tape warning for victims of Hurricane Katrina: the Federal Emergency Management Agency is reminding residents they require a special federal building permit from FEMA before they can fix even the kitchen cabinets in homes located in Louisiana’s 100-year floodplain.

FEMA says the permit process cannot be waived and covers any work “such as removal or replacement of the roof, walls, siding, wallboard, plaster, insulation, paneling, cabinets, flooring, electrical system, plumbing, heating or air conditioning.” The agency says it needs to monitor all construction activities in the 100-year flood plain as part of its responsibilities in administering federal flood insurance.

Congress is going to get its Christmas tree.

In a little-noted Washington battle, the Forest Service this summer declared a halt to all activities on Forest Service property _ including fire-prevention brush clearing, Boy Scout camps, winter ski resorts and Christmas tree felling _ after a court ruling questioning if the agency was allowing sufficient public comments on sales of timber and mineral rights.

The Sierra Club says the Forest Service is playing politics by ordering the blanket ban of even minor projects, but the agency says it is just complying with the intention of the courts. That left businesses that run ski lifts through Forest Service lands furious, and Boy Scouts troops without camping sites because they couldn’t get permits to use Forest Service lands.

The federal judge has since sought to clarify his intentions, saying his order doesn’t affect minor projects _ including the tree earmarked for Capitol decorations this Christmas _ from being approved. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., says he has a back-up plan for another Christmas spruce if that clarification doesn’t work.

(Contact Lance Gay at GayL(at)