Nation

The main hall of the lodge was sparsely filled as Hillary's appearance began, but the local grapevine, fed by police radio, soon turned out a respectable showing. Not knowing how to handle the uninvited guests, the Secret Service first kept them on the porch, then let them into a back room, and finally allowed them into the hall where Hillary was speaking. When the session was thrown open to questions, one man jumped up and said that a friend of his had once taught with Hillary in Arkansas. "Oh, my gosh," the First Lady replied, "whatever happened to him? He was a really good instructor." Next, a woman announced that although she was a Republican, she wanted Hillary to know that she liked her a lot. Other Republicans voiced similar sentiments.

And so it went, as one at a time in the dank cold of the polluted Adirondacks Hillary was winning votes, while Giuliani stayed home and sank in the polls in his besieged city.


Kickoff in Congress
Elián Football

Little Elián González ought to have been promptly returned to his father after he was rescued off Florida last November. Instead, every politician from Clinton on down has used the boy as a political football, and now—almost too perfectly—here come the congressional Republicans.

Despite polls showing that the U.S. public overwhelmingly approves of the boy being returned to his father, the GOP contingent on Capitol Hill, led by Tom DeLay and Orrin Hatch, seems to have latched onto the cause as a successor crusade to Monicagate. Suitably out front among the right-wing wackos practically frothing at the mouth over the issue has been New Hampshire's Bob Smith, who quickly became the Miami relations' Capitol Hill escort and seems to have involved himself almost as a family member, along with the rescuing fisherman and houseguest Donato Dalrymple.

Not to be outdone were Al Gore and George Bush, both of whom have celebrated the virtues of "family values" ad nauseam. "As I have said, I believe this . . . should have been handled through a family court," declared Beta Man, surfacing from a press retreat following his abject flip-flop to attract key Florida votes. "I commend the people of Miami," he quickly added. The compassionate conservative was, of course, "profoundly saddened . . . that the administration . . . decided to use force to take a little boy from the place he calls home in the middle of the night."


Cheapskate Nation
Fortress America

Although Americans like to think of themselves as a caring nation, nothing could be further from the truth. A study out this week shows how cheap the U.S. really is: While protesters have recently focused on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for loansharking third world development projects, the U.S. gives only a pittance of its largesse in foreign aid, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. U.S. aid now stands at $11.1 billion a year, a mere 0.6 percent of federal expenditures—and it's slated to drop even further. When ranked among the top 20 industrialized nations, the U.S. is at the bottom. (Although Japan's economy is less than half the size of the U.S.'s, it has the largest foreign-aid program in the world.)

According to the study, the average U.S. resident "receives 56 times the annual income of residents of the world's low-income countries." Although the U.S. has only 5 percent of the world's population, its economy comprises 27 percent of the world economy.


Plantation Prison

The District of Columbia, under court order to improve its prisons, has contracted with Wackenhut Corp. to build a 1200-inmate facility on the site of one of North Carolina's largest slave plantations. Outraged, Harmon Wray, a D.C. minister, told the Washington City Paper that this means "the mostly working-class, poor black descendants of slaves will be making low wages to keep their poor, almost all black brothers and sisters from the ghettos of D.C. locked up in cages."

Additional reporting: Kate Cortesi

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