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Mark Shields is a nationally known columnist and commentator.

Nobody asked me, but....


George W. Bush
Military Bases

WASHINGTON (Creators Syndicate) -- Once again, I owe a debt to Jimmy Cannon, the late and truly great New York sportswriter who, from time to time, wrote a column full of witty and sentimental one-liners he called, "Nobody asked me, but ..."

Has any of the scores of pontificators or columnists who condemned Reps. Tom Davis, R-Virginia, and Henry Waxman, D-California, for holding the congressional hearings on steroids in baseball -- where Baltimore Oriole Rafael Palmeiro self-righteously testified he had never used those evil performance-enhancing substances -- seen fit to apologize to the two House members now that Palmeiro's own drug tests exposes him as a brazen liar?

My friend Reilly has the perfect put-down for that officious secretary with the superior, mock-British accent who fends off all phone calls to her boss with some icy variation of, "Can I tell him the subject of your call?" Reilly's answer: "I'm calling about the alimony," or, "I have the final results of his blood test."

After watching Dr. Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, the Senate majority leader, do "a 180" from his diagnosis of Terry Schiavo via videotape to his recent endorsement of stem cell research, I have to admit I worship the quicksand he walks on.

If it really is true that curiosity killed the cat, then George W. Bush will live forever.

I can't help it, but whenever I see one of those oval, white status stickers on the car in front of me with OBX (Outer Banks), MV (Martha's Vineyard) or ACK (the airline code for Nantucket), I rush to judgment that the driver is a snob.

If George Bush's policy is to be blamed for the chaos and conflict that is today Iraq, do not the same president and his policy rate some credit for the withdrawal of thousands of Israeli settlers from two dozen communities on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank?

Thanks to the genius of Vince Vaughn playing the bounder, Jeremy Gray, "Wedding Crashers" is hands-down, or thumbs-up, the funniest movie of the year.

There is no surer way to curb my generous tipping instinct than for the hovering waiter -- exactly one nanosecond after your food is put on the table -- to ask solicitously, before you have had a taste, "Is everything all right?"

"No," I intend to answer, "Tthe Red Sox have no pitching, the Nationals have no hitting and the Democrats have no pulse. Any other questions?"

Wouldn't it be truly refreshing if one 2006 candidate called a press conference where he candidly stated: "Today, I'm announcing my withdrawal from my family so that I can spend more time with my first love -- my own political career"?

American voters may be philosophically conservative. They do regularly complain that they want the federal government off their backs, and out of both their pockets and their hair. But these same people are operationally liberal.

When told that just outside Pocatello, Idaho, a single can of tuna fish has been found with a trace of botulism, they have an identical response: "Where the hell was the federal government? I demand a full report on my desk the first thing Monday morning!"

They all want a small, efficient federal government working on their side 24 hours a day ... cheap.

Proof that shame is officially dead: Rush Limbaugh attacked Ohio Democratic congressional candidate Paul Hackett, a Marine who voluntarily spent seven months in Ramadi and Fallujah, of going "to Iraq to pad the resume."

Why is it that the administration says that critics' call for an orderly withdrawal plan of U.S. troops by a timetable would "embolden" the insurgents and terrorists and put Americans at greater risk, but when Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, says there could be "some fairly substantial reductions" in troops by next spring, apparently the terrorists pay no attention at all?

You can fool some of the people all of the time ... and those are the ones you should concentrate on.

Click here for more from Creators Syndicate.

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