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Oval Office truths strange as fiction

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By HOWARD TROXLER, Times Columnist

© St. Petersburg Times
published June 7, 2002

It's all real through today's date.

May 21

The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday rekindled long-simmering complaints of voting irregularities in Florida's 2000 presidential election by revealing plans to sue three counties for violating voting rights laws.

May 28

A week after reigniting the controversy over the 2000 election, the Justice Department told Congress on Tuesday that no Floridians were intentionally prevented from voting and that problems at the polls caused only a few people to leave without voting.

June 3

The Bush administration on Monday described in its starkest terms the potentially serious consequences from global warming.

The report, submitted to the United Nations, stated that the climate changes of recent decades "are likely due mostly to human activities."

June 4

Under intense criticism from conservatives, President Bush distanced himself today from a report by his administration concluding that humans were to blame for far-reaching effects of global warming on the environment.

Reporters asked Mr. Bush about the report today. "I read the report put out by the bureaucracy," he said. He said he still opposed the Kyoto treaty, which Japan ratified today.

June 4

Florida may get less federal money than expected to help high-poverty schools in the coming year because the federal government found that state spending on schools decreased during Gov. Jeb Bush's first budget.

Under a complex formula used by the U.S. Department of Education, Florida effectively is being penalized for a slight drop in per pupil spending in the 1999-2000 budget year. Florida was the only state with a decrease.

Okay, we're past today's date.

June 8

The U.S. Department of Education announced today it was "deeply sorry" for a "slight miscalculation" in its earlier statement that Florida had decreased school spending.

"On second thought," the department said, "they are spending oodles and oodles down there, we swear."

July 7

The U.S. Department of the Treasury released a report today titled, "We Admit That All These Tax Cuts Have Only Helped Rich Guys, While Blowing The Entire 10-Year Surplus and Returning Us To Deficit Spending."

July 9

President Bush said today Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was "just goofin' around" when his department released a report critical of the administration's tax policies and that he had given O'Neill "big-time noogies."

July 27

Secretary of State Colin Powell said today that the conflict between Israel and Palestine can never be resolved without a "strong, resolute, long-term U.S. presence."

July 29

Secretary of State Colin Powell today clarified his earlier remarks on the Middle East conflict, saying it will not be resolved without "a trip every few months by me or Rumsfeld."

August 4

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a report today declaring it is "fundamentally unfair" to force taxpayers, instead of polluters, to pay for the cleanup of the remaining sites on the Superfund list.

"While we're at it," the EPA said, "we've decided to require better gas mileage in cars after all."

The agency also declared that U.S. energy policy is "tilted entirely too far in the direction of digging more carbon fuels out of the ground and setting them on fire."

August 6

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today it is moving its national headquarters to "the top of some mountain in Nevada filled with nuclear waste."

-- You can reach Howard Troxler at (727) 893-8505 or at

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