Un-Constitutional

Posted May 14, 2004 at 6:36pm

The Government Printing Office is recalling nearly 712,000 copies of the pocket-sized Constitution and Declaration of Independence pamphlets it distributes on Capitol Hill — and sells to the public — because the agency omitted seven words and a footnote from it’s latest portable version of the two documents. Corrected copies will be distributed to Congress beginning this week. [IMGCAP(1)]

Public Printer Bruce James sent a letter to Congressional offices last week informing them of the recall. James said “a printing error caused by a mechanical process” used by GPO was to blame for the omissions. James said GPO “will absorb all costs of the reprinting.”

It was unclear at press time how much it will cost GPO to fix the blunder or how it was discovered. Veronica Meter of GPO said the agency “regrets the error and wants to make it right.” GPO will start distributing new editions of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence pamphlets to Capitol Hill offices on Tuesday. Unused copies will be retrieved and returned to GPO.

Each Congress, GPO prints 1,000 of the booklets for every lawmaker’s office. The rest go to the Congressional gift shops, public libraries and are offered for sale to the public, although no copies have been sold during the last couple of months as the agency wrestled with how best to restore the documents to their former glory.

The booklets that were distributed to the Hill in October are missing words from a section dealing with the tyranny of King George III. A footnote on the 12th Amendment’s ratification was also omitted.

HOH is sure Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) will be pleased.

Name That Speaker. Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), a man of few words, has apparently written down enough of them to fill a whole book.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Hastert’s memoir will be published in August, giving him time between the two party conventions to hit the publicity circuit and, perhaps, await a call from Oprah’s Book Club.

Given that he has led the House through the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Iraq war, the final episode of “Friends” and plenty of other drama, you’d think he’d select a title that would get the reader’s heart racing.

So what is the Speaker going to call his book? (Drumroll) … (wait for it) … (here it comes) …

“Speaker.”

While that title is refreshingly direct, as well as absolutely accurate, HOH firmly believes that Hastert and the good folks over at Regnery Publishing could have come up with something a bit more creative. Apparently Hastert hasn’t signed off on the manuscript yet, so there’s time to make some changes.

That’s why HOH is proud to announce the first-ever “Give Denny Hastert’s Book a Better Name Contest.”

Send your ideas to hoh@rollcall.com, and the best suggestions will be published in an upcoming column. Please keep it clean, folks, because Roll Call is a family newspaper. HOH is also sure that there will be lots of uses of the words “coach,” “team” and “teamwork,” so be sure to use your imagination.

There’ll be another contest whenever Hastert gets around to writing a sequel. Maybe “The Revenge of the Speaker” or “Speaker II: Electric Boogaloo.”

I Need a Job. House Intelligence Chairman Porter Goss may be retiring at the end of this year, but that doesn’t mean the Florida Republican wants to start hanging out at all those seniors’ centers in his home state or hitting the earlybird specials.

While being honored at a Republican Main Street Partnership dinner last Wednesday night, the 66-year-old Goss hinted rather bluntly that he would like to change jobs rather than simply end his working career next January.

People, especially those in the private defense and intelligence industries he noted, “need to listen carefully to what we [retiring Members] say — it’s elected public office I’m retiring from — emphasis on ‘elected’ public office.”

But mindful of House ethics rules that bar Members from discussing future jobs with anyone they currently have jurisdiction over, Goss said he kind of grasps why he hasn’t been approached by the industry just yet.

“You need to understand that we cannot talk about such things while we’re in public office,” Goss noted.

But now that Goss, a former CIA agent, is on the prowl, HOH has no doubt the offers will start pouring in. Who knows, Goss may soon find himself working in Langley, Va., depending on what happens Nov. 2.

Thursday Is “Sick Day.” Life in Washington is a lot less dramatic than portrayed in movies and TV shows (HOH can attest to that), although it does have its perks. Like not going to work this Thursday and instead getting to drive hot new cars around. Or at least that’s what General Motors want us to do.

GM is sponsoring the “AutoShow In Motion 2004” at FedEx Field on May 20, and Congressional communications directors, press secretaries and members of the media are invited to a private test drive of “over 150 of the hottest new cars, trucks and SUVs on the planet.”

GM owns Chevrolet, Pontiac, Cadillac, Buick, Saturn, Saab, Hummer and GMC trucks, so there will be plenty of choices for everyone. GM will also have some BMWs, Toyotas and Lexuses there, so you can make a direct comparison with even more cars.

The auto giant will set up a couple of test tracks in the FedEx parking lot, including trucking in mounds of dirt for an off-road course.

“One minute you’ll be stepping on the accelerator of a Corvette down a speed course, the next you’re taking a HUMMER H2 off roading,” said an e-mail GM sent out last week. “Plus, you’ll have a chance to drive a hydrogen cell vehicle — where the only emission is pure H20.”

GM will even pick you up at the Capitol and drive you over to FedEx Field, located in beautiful downtown Landover, Md.

Here’s the best part — GM wants you to have Thursday off. “All you should be doing on May 20th is driving and having a great time doing it!” the invite said.

Kimberly Hippler of GM said the company is doing 14 events like this across the country this summer, including ones in Boston, Chicago and New York City. The public is invited, and between 10,000 and 15,000 people normally attend each day.

But Thursday morning is strictly for flacks and hacks — the hoi polloi can go on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

HOH, though, wonders if a Thursday before a week-long recess is the best time for this event. Won’t all these Hill aides be working on important legislation and other crucial matters that can’t wait for an industry-sponsored joyride? Isn’t this just an effort to get public employees to skip a day of work?

“Everyone has got spring fever, sure, but this is an important educational event too,” insisted GM’s Hippler.

HOH isn’t sure but, he may be coming coming down with a cold.

Ben Pershing and Emily Pierce contributed to this report.