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Potheads vs. Narcs

It would have been the zaniest game of the softball season. But it seems the Narcs are too chicken to play a bunch of stoners.

The One Hitters, the softball team of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, claim they’ve been trying to play ball — literally — against the Office of National Drug Control Policy for years. Finally, this year, it looked like the Bush administration’s ONDCP office, also known as the drug czar, was going to come through. [IMGCAP(1)]

The game was all set for Wednesday, June 8, between the One Hitters and We Czar the Champions. But then the drug czar’s office removed the game from their schedule, saying they couldn’t muster enough players for that particular game. (They did, however, have enough players last week in their game against the Commerce Department.)

The One Hitters tried to reschedule, but the captain of We Czar the Champions said they were “booked through August.”

Now the once-docile potheads are irate.

“Obviously one of the ‘higher ups’ at ONDCP saw the schedule and nixed the game,” NORML’s spokesman, Nick Thimmesch, told HOH. “Perhaps they were spooked by the notion of BYOB — bring your own bong!”

Kris Krane, NORML’s associate director and co-captain of the One Hitters, said: “For years the ONDCP has been unwilling to engage drug policy reformers in a serious debate on the issues. Now they even refuse to engage us in a friendly game of softball.”

Tom Riley, a spokesman for the drug czar’s office, said there was “no grand policy formulation” to dodge playing the One Hitters. He said the stoners couldn’t possibly have tried to play We Czar the Champions for years, because the team is brand new.

“This just goes to show the effects of marijuana use on judgment and reasoning,” Riley joked.

At first he toed the party line and blamed his team’s decision not to play the One Hitters on a dearth of players. But then he thought better of it and decided it was a policy decision after all.

“I wouldn’t think we would play any team that promotes drug use,” Riley said, adding, “that includes teams that promote smoking meth or smoking crack.”

When In Doubt, Attack. Perhaps Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) is not familiar with the old cliche about throwing stones at glass houses. Or maybe he’s just more familiar with the old political adage that it’s better to attack than be attacked.

Ney, who is under scrutiny for his ties to controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff, went on the House floor Monday lambasting Newsweek investigative reporter Michael Isikoff and editor Mark Whitaker for “fabricating an incident at Guantanamo Bay where American soldiers allegedly desecrated a copy of the Quran.”

The Newsweek report said a U.S. soldier had flushed a copy of the Quran down the toilet, provoking riots in Afghanistan that reportedly left at least 15 people dead. While Ney was doing his part on the House floor, much of the Bush administration, including White House spokesman Scott McClellan and Pentagon officials, slammed Newsweek for running the item without stronger confirmation.

After a media firestorm on Monday, Whitaker released a statement late in the afternoon retracting the story entirely.

Earlier in the day Ney, apparently needing to vent some of the anger he has built up during his past several weeks in hot water, called on the magazine to retract the story.

“Newsweek’s behavior is not merely unfortunate, it’s criminal,” Ney declared. “Though Isikoff’s actions resulted in the death of innocent people, he is evidently held accountable to no one.”

Ney added: “America’s troops are in enough danger without self-righteous, yellow journalists like Michael Isikoff defaming them for a cheap headline.”

Newsweek declined to comment to Roll Call’s John Bresnahan on the matter.

Some Capitol Hill insiders, however, thought Ney’s comments were ill-considered.

“You don’t want to go looking for trouble when you don’t have to,” said one House GOP strategist. “Ney is asking for some payback by Isikoff.”

Let the Race Begin, 2008 Edition. Guess which potential 2008 presidential candidate has been chosen to serve as honorary starter for the legendary Memorial Day weekend NASCAR 600 race in Charlotte, N.C.?

This hint from his press release should help you guess: “As a practicing physician, he has been a leading voice on health issues and bioterrorism.”

Yes, you got it: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). He’ll wave the green flag to start the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race on May 29 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Frist will also get to address the estimated 200,000 fans — can you say NASCAR Dads? — who are expected to attend the event.

And, if ever there were a perfect presidential photo-op, it would be the children of North Carolina military personnel serving overseas.

“I’m particularly excited to share in this great American tradition with the children of America’s fighting men and women,” Frist said in a statement. “And I’m sure the folks at Charlotte will hold up their reputation as having the best pre-race show in the business. It should be a great day to go racing!”

Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), a big racing fan who virtually wears his presidential ambitions on his sleeve, was passed over to be the honorary starter of the 43-car field at the Coca-Cola 600.

Allen’s spokesman, Dave Snepp, brushed off the dis’, saying, “Having just returned from the Chevy American Revolution 400 in Richmond on Saturday, where he and his son watched Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart trading paint, Sen. Allen is really glad that his colleagues are taking part in what he considers to be a great American sport.”

Though Tennessee is home to the Bristol Motor Speedway, where Frist and his three boys are regular attendees, according to spokesman Nick Smith, other prospective ’08 contenders question the Majority Leader’s NASCAR credentials.

As one senior aide to one potential presidential candidate said, “I’m glad NASCAR is reaching out to the most elite.”

Should be a fun race — yes, that race.

John Bresnahan contributed to this report.

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