Meanwhile, Elián, his father, his stepmother, his younger half-brother, his kindergarten teacher, and four playmates from Cuba were said to be enjoying quality time at the upscale Carmichael Farm on the eastern shore of Maryland, protected by 58 federal agents cruising the estate on golf carts and a small armada of Coast Guard vessels in Chesapeake Bay. The government figures the González entourage needs extra protection since Betty Mills, the INS agent who carried the lad when he was removed from his Uncle Lazaro's house in Miami, has received death threats and now travels with bodyguards herself. Carmichael Farm is owned by Corning Glass heiress Nina Houghton.

For Web conspiracists, other questions persisted. Could Bagley be doing a deal as a front for Big Tobacco in a ploy to get Cuban cigars from Castro? Given Bagley's real estate interests, might he be fishing for hotel properties? Or, as Charley Reese of the Orlando Sentinel suggests, could the sugar industry be involved? According to Reese, Dwayne Andreas, head of Archer Daniels Midland, has had dealings with the law firm of attorney Greg Craig, who represents Elián's father, Juan Miguel González. Andreas has met with Castro and reportedly hopes to do business in Cuba through a Spanish subsidiary.

Footnote: On May 11, a federal appeals court judge in Atlanta will hear arguments on requests for political asylum for Elián.

Jesus Christ Almighty
The Exorcist in Austin

George W. Bush's debt to Jesus is well known. What is not so well-known is that Dubya has gone out of his way to involve the Christian clergy in running the State of Texas through a program called "Faith in Action: A New Vision for Church-State Cooperation."

In welfare reform, and especially in the prison system, Shrub has exempted church people from elaborate procedures so that they can reach their clients more directly. But as The Washington Post reported last week, after cops raided a home for young Christian adults in Corpus Christi following complaints that teenagers were being beaten and roped to beds, this approach can result in its own problems.

One teen recalled: "Every night I . . . heard someone getting beat and screaming, saying, 'Please help me' and 'Please stop hitting me.' " A sign over a Christian-based drug-treatment center in Houston reads: "Drug Addiction Is NOT a Disease. It's a Sin."

To top things off, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported last week that two fundamentalist Christian chaplains broke county jail rules to perform an exorcism on an accused child molester. According to records obtained by the paper, the chaplains took the inmate to an isolated part of the jail—without the consent of guards—and began beseeching the devil "to leave this man's body."

Rock And a Hard Place

Still undecided over a future career, Bill Clinton says he'll work first on setting up his Little Rock library while living with his mother-in-law, Dorothy Rodham, in her Arkansas condominium and visiting Hillary on weekends in New York. "I really like her," Clinton said of Mrs. Rodham over the weekend. We get along great.

Additional reporting: Kate Cortesi

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