The Right Coast

August 10, 2005
Is This A Great Country or What?
By Gail Heriot

I had dinner about a week ago with Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior. (Impressed? Well don't be. I was at the table in my capacity as girl friend of another of the guests, I was seated far enough from Secretary Norton that I had to watch her lips to have any idea what she was saying, and had I stolen her purse, she probably would not have been able to identify me in a police line up, even ten minutes later.)

Still, I left the table rather charmed by her--something I didn't expect to be. Of course, there's something charming about all American Interior Secretaries. Unlike many of their foreign counterparts--Ministers of the Interior--they're in charge of the national parks and not the secret police. But Norton was particularly appealing. She was agitated over the case of the widow of a park ranger. After her husband's death, this elderly widow--now in her eighties--had been entitled to live in a house on national park land for a certain number of years. But her lease had recently expired and Park Service employees were eager to have her thrown out so they could raze the house and restore the land to its pristine state. Norton was appalled at the notion of throwing an elderly widow out of her home (and evidently had put a stop to it).

Or at least theat's what I think she said. Maybe it was an elderly window of a clark danger. It's hard to tell when you're having to read lips.