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The 80-foot engelmann spruce selected to be the 2005 Capitol Holiday Tree will make it to Washington, D.C., on time after all, now that a federal judge has clarified his ruling in a lawsuit brought against the U.S. Forest Service by environmental groups.

Lawyers for the environmental groups had argued that the Forest Service was over-applying U.S. District Judge James Singleton’s decision to require public comment periods on projects in national forests to portray the court order in an extreme and unfavorable light. [IMGCAP(1)]

Meanwhile, lawmakers had been worried that ruling would keep the tree, selected from the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico, from a November cross-country tour and a lighting ceremony planned for Dec. 8 on the West Front of the Capitol.

Dan Jiron, national press officer for the Forest Service, called the judge’s order “a useful clarification for the Forest Service.”

Jiron said that “in terms of the [holiday] tree, things will move ahead as planned. It should be here on time. It will be an exciting thing for New Mexico and Americans generally.”

No More Black Sox for Joe? With the Chicago White Sox poised to possibly reach the pinnacle of baseball, it’s time for “Shoeless” Joe Jackson to make some of his own, as far as Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) are concerned.

The Senators have chosen the eve of the Chicago White Sox’s first World Series game in almost half a century to introduce a resolution to “appropriately honor” the maligned outfielder. In 1921, Jackson received a lifetime ban from baseball for accepting a bribe in exchange for throwing the 1919 World Series, despite having been acquitted in a court of law.

Jackson, who led the White Sox to their last championship in 1917, has the third highest batting average of all time, and still maintains a record for having batted .408 in his rookie year.

Maureen Knightly, a spokeswoman for Harkin, said Harkin thought Jackson was one of the greatest baseball players of all time, and that it was time he be recognized for his contributions to the game.

DeMint, who represents Jackson’s home state, said the 85-year-old case would not have to be retried, just declare Joe’s sentence fulfilled. “We could remove the curse of the White Sox,” he said laughingly, if baseball does right by “Shoeless” Joe.

— John McArdle and Jean Chemnick