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as seen on phillyBurbs.com

Barney-gate: Film at 11 or whenever you want

Apparently bored with the now-defunct Trent Lott scandal, the Bush administration has decided to create one of its own.

See Barney spaz on streaming video at taxpayer expense.

White House staffers recently took a paid break from fighting the wars on Terror, Iraq, drugs and corporate corruption to follow Barney - the Bush family's spastic little Scottish terrier - around with a video camera.

For this, we pay taxes?

The idea of a Barney cam for the WhiteHouse.gov Web site seems straight forward enough. There are, after all, literally thousands of animal cams - like this one - listed in the search engines of the Web.

Usually, they involve a small, $40 Web cam strategically positioned to catch the action - or inaction, in the case of fish cams. (There's even an article on how to do it right.)

Barney was supposed to document the inside of the White House with a "Barney-cam" strapped to his torso, according to a Dec. 12 Associated Press story (First Lady Visits Teenage Sniper Victim). But he refused to move once the lipstick-sized device was attached. So a team chased after him on foot - sometimes on hands and knees - with their camera right at Barney's eye level.

"Anything to get the perfect shot," White House staffer Jimmy Orr, who oversaw the project, told the AP.

The White House staff has since been ordered to use Cling-free dryer sheets while laundering George W's suits.

Let me get this straight. Unlike the Bush daughters, who seem to enjoy tying one on, Barney doesn't?

Thousands of nutty people around the nation have no problem dressing pets up for holiday pictures, as Jay Leno bemoans almost nightly. Heck, even the Grinch can tie antlers on his dog before pillaging Whoville. But the Bushes couldn't get their normally hyper pooch to move?

Maybe they should have given him a target to yip at. That's what happened two weeks ago while the first lady was reading to a bunch of school children.

Another AP story (Bush OKs Law to Put Gov't Info Online) described it this way: At the end, the Bushes' dog Barney bounded into the room and straight toward the children. Leary he might bite, they scrambled backward to escape, prompting the president to quickly scoop up his dog. "Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time," he shrugged. "Created a near-riot!"

With the black, stubbly legged Scottish terrier safely in his lap, the children surged forward at his invitation for a chance to pet the First Dog and cap their White House visit.
Since then, millions of Web surfers have tuned in via streaming video to see the dogged terrier romp down hallways and chew on Christmas tree decorations, according to the AP. (White House 'Barney-cam' Is Online Hit)

Let's just hope Barney fairs better for it than former first feline, Socks Clinton.

Remember the black and white pussycat Bill and Hillary used to lovingly pet for the cameras during their first term? He not only had his own Web site, but a fan club at one point.

"No, I did not use the Rose Garden for my litterbox. And as far as the allegation that Buddy and I fight like cats and dogs, I can asure you we're the best of friends. Next question."

But once Bill brought home Buddy the dog, Socks quickly faded deeper in the background than Roger Clinton.

After the Monica Lewinsky scandle neutered Clinton's presidency, Socks tried to break out on his own. In 1999, he competed for "Cat of the Year" at the Westchester Cat Show. He even ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey.

Upon returning to the White House, Socks fought constantly with Buddy. Finally, the Clintons simply handed Socks off to former White House secretary Bettie Currie. He is now rumored to be heavily addicted to catnip.

Just think how different Socks' life might have been if Hillary had simply tied a Web cam to Bill's torso.

December 23, 2002 

Dave Ralis' Pave The Grass column appears on Mondays.