Oregon Republican Sen. Gordon Smith is one of Capitol Hill's most enthusiastic and skillful golfers - so much so that he made Golf Digest's 2005 list of Washington's Top 200 Golfers.
But Gordo's name is missing from the 2007 list. Smith, whose handicap was given as 4.5 in 2005, told the magazine he hadn't been playing enough last year to determine his handicap - too busy campaigning for re-election.
Overall, the Washington golf scene has changed quite a bit since 2005, Golf Digest (golfdigest.com) reports: "Ethics legislation passed in 2007 has curtailed the kind of 'let-me-explain-my-issue' rounds that enabled congressional staffers to play in groups co-hosted by lobbyists on Friday afternoons. As a result of a ban imposed on gifts and services, lobbyists have to pay thousands of dollars to play in elected officials' fundraisers to spend time with them on the golf course - hardly a bonding opportunity." Also, the storm of scandals swirling around Jack Abramoff and other lobbyists has created "a greater-than-ever hesitancy among golfers to admit they play."
Not Tonight, Mon Cher
The (largely self-created) reputation of Frenchmen as the World's Greatest Lovers took a serious hit last week as a new study revealed that one out of five young French males has no interest in sex.
The government-funded research, which involved some 12,000 in-depth interviews with men and women of various ages in 2005 and 2006, discovered that 20% of French men between 18 and 24 "manifest no interest in sexuality," while the abstinence rate for men under 35 was twice as high as for women in the same age bracket.
French women, on the other hand, are turning into sex bombs. The number who claim to have had only one partner has dropped from 68% in 1970 to 43% in 1992 and 34% in 2006, while the average number of partners per woman has risen from less than two in 1970 to more than five now.
Speaking of sex bombs, Carla Bruni, the ultra-hot former model and singer who married French President Nikolai Sarkozy a month ago, has openly discussed her past lovers (including, among others, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and Donald Trump) and confided that she finds being a one-man woman boring: "I am monogamous from time to time but I prefer polygamy and polyandry," an arrangement in which a woman has several husbands.
Try to imagine Michelle Obama or Cindy McCain coming out with that.
900,000 "Terrorists" and Counting
Is your next-door neighbor a terrorist? How about the guy down the street - the one who dresses kind of funny? Or that guy at the office with the swarthy complexion and the Saddam Hussein-like moustache? You can never be sure, so you'd better put 'em on the list.
That seems to be the modus operandi of the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, whose "terrorist watch list" has now passed 900,000 names and is growing approximately one new name every 90 seconds.
Upfront knows that because the ACLU has set up a cool counter on the Web (aclu.org/privacy/spying/watchlistcounter.html) that lets you know how many names are on the watch list at any given moment. At the current pace the list will top a million names by July.
"If there were really that many terrorists running around," the civil liberties group comments, "we'd all be dead."
But there's a serious side to this. Bloated terrorist watch lists can distract the authorities from going after real terrorists, the ACLU argues, as well as creating hassles for innocent people. In the latter category, the organization includes (among many others) Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy (a Democrat) and the wife of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (a Republican), both of whom have had problems with air travel because somehow their names ended up on a list.
"The uncontroversial contention that Osama Bin Laden and a handful of other known terrorists should not be allowed on an aircraft is being used to create a monster that goes far beyond what ordinary Americans think of when they think about a terrorist watch list," says the ACLU. "This is not just a problem of numbers. The numbers are merely a symptom. What's needed is fairness."
Shoot a Birdie, Go to Jail
All golfers hate distractions, but PGA Tour pro Tripp Isenhour got a bit too carried away with a bird that annoyed him while he was trying to tape an episode of his TV show, "Shoot Like a Pro," one day.
The bird, a red-tailed hawk, sat squawking in a tree about 300 yards away, causing Isenhour to screw up his shots. The exasperated Isenhour began blasting golf balls at the bird, but it was out of range. Later, when the video crew moved to within about 75 yards of the hawk, Isenhour continued firing away at it, at one point allegedly remarking: "I'll get him now."
And he did - a ball struck the bird, whereupon it fell out of the tree and died.
Isenhour has insisted he didn't mean to kill the hawk, but film crew member Jethro Senger was skeptical: "He just kept saying how he didn't think he could have hit it, which I think is a stupid thing for a PGA Tour golfer to say. He can put a ball in a hole from hundreds of yards away, and here he is hitting line drives at something that's, I don't know, a couple hundred feet away."
Wildlife protection officials charged Isenhour with animal cruelty and killing a protected migratory bird. If convicted he could get up to 14 months in jail and a $1,500 fine.