By Patrick Hruby
Page 2

George Soros is a pot-endorsing, Bush-bashing billionaire. And he wants to buy the Washington Nationals.

Surprisingly, members of Congress have taken a time-out from the people's business to squabble over the matter.

Republicans say a Soros-owned team would send the wrong message, alienate Capitol Hill and generally presage the end of days, even more than gay marriage.

Democrats counter that politics and baseball don't mix, and that lawmakers should stick to more important matters. Like blocking presidential appointments.

On the plus side, no one has invoked the Nazis, Hitler or the Holocaust. Not yet, at least.

George Soros
Would you buy baseball tickets from this man? Some Republicans wouldn't.

In the interest of good government, let's break things down: Is it unfair of Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) to tell the Washington Post that Soros is not the sort of fellow "we need or want in the nation's capitol?"

Absolutely. Davis' claim applies to half of his colleagues, minimum. Not to mention Redskins safety-cum-amateur detective Sean Taylor.

Next, does it smack of rock-throwing school-yard intimidation when Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.) hints that Congress could revoke baseball's prized antitrust exemption?

Without question. Stationing a carrier battle group outside Bud Selig's window would be more subtle.

Finally, is Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) right in saying he's never seen anything "more impotent" than an elected official threatening said exemption?

You bet. And as a Democrat, Miller knows plenty about political impotence.

Lost in the bluster and partisan feces-tossing, of course, is a simple, immutable political truth -- one as old as government itself, familiar to anyone who has ever held office, owned a team or simply had kids.

Namely, what's the point of being in charge if you can't throw your weight around? Or stick your schnoz where it doesn't belong?

Richard Nixon once drew up a play for Miami coach Don Shula to use in the Super Bowl. Ralph Nader publicly called on the NBA to review the officiating in a Lakers-Kings playoff game.

Just last week, a House committee approved separate bills to regulate boxing, steroid testing and Maria Sharapova's grunting. One of those is made up. Still, the fact remains that our duly-elected representatives meddle in athletics all the time.

Steroid hearing
Hey, Congress cleared up the steroid problem. Why not the Nationals' ownership bidding?

And I, for one, welcome our political sports overlords.

Face it: more than a few current sports problems could use a little federal intervention. Take the Yankees. Or FEMA. Declare a state of emergency, pump in some disaster relief funding, dump Kevin Brown. Bombers back in the playoffs. Crisis solved.

A few years back, the No Child Left Behind Act was designed to bring accountability and choice to the nation's public schools; today, a No NFL Fan Left Behind Act could bring the same to football followers. Just imagine: no mandatory television blackouts for crummy teams that can't sell out. NFL Sunday Ticket for everyone. Ticket and merchandise vouchers that would allow Arizona Cardinals fans to adopt a new franchise altogether.

Oh, and don't forget minimum broadcast standards, to ensure that Joe Montana never, ever gets a studio job again.

Congress used its authority over interstate commerce to hold steroid hearings. Why can't the distinguished gentlemen of Capitol Hill use NAFTA to manage Steve Nash's hair? Or keep Rob Babcock from drafting another power forward?

Similarly, lawmakers keep floating a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Meanwhile, another pressing issue involving sweaty male entanglement goes unresolved.

I speak, of course, of the jump ball. Shouldn't Congress add a provision to the Bill of Rights that defends basketball tradition and eliminates the unholy, unnatural aberration that is the alternating possession rule?

Amendment XXVIII: Jump it. Every time. Are we not men?

As for Robert Kraft's "gift" to Vlad Putin? Call in the CIA. Spy satellites and unmanned Predator drones should be able to spot a garish Super Bowl ring with ease.

Chuck Norris can head the recovery operation. Let President Bush don a Patriots jersey and declare "Mission Accomplished!" from the Gillette Stadium 50-yard line.

If the above efforts prove successful, perhaps lawmakers can go further. Think Hollywood. Hermes dissed Oprah. We don't like the French. This calls for international censure. Plus changing the name of Freedom Fries to "Oprah Fries" in the House cafeteria.

Frankly, an honest, hardworking legislator -- or even majority leader Tom DeLay -- could bang that out in a single afternoon.

Speaking of Oprah, Tom Cruise has trampled her couch, bullied Matt Lauer, brainwashed Katie Holmes and generally acted like a Ritalin-deprived child in an effort to publicize his latest movie. Which I will not be naming here.

Tom Cruise
If it takes a Congressional order to muzzle this man, so be it.

Solution? Have the government buy every American a ticket. With any luck, Cruise will shut up. And hopefully go away. His silence won't come cheap -- but then again, neither is Congressional pork, including $50 million for an indoor rain forest in Iowa.

A tax-slashing president, Ronald Reagan, was recently voted history's Greatest American, ahead of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and, yes, Oprah. Again, this is troublesome, and exactly the sort of disaster that demands federal intervention.

For one, the Gipper has an airport named after him, which ought to be honor enough; more to the point, everyone knows the real greatest American of all time is Michael Jordan. Followed by the guy who invented the beer cozy.

A national referendum ought to settle the issue once and for all.

Should a new era of federal sport oversight come to pass, critics surely will lambaste it as a dangerous step toward totalitarian government. I say au contraire. Bush is a former baseball owner. Representative Tom Osborne (R-NE) coached Nebraska football. In recent years, Congress has passed resolutions honoring John Stockton, Roger Clemens and the San Jose Earthquakes, as well as one authorizing the use of force against Iraq.

Open your eyes: the sports-politics complex already exists. We are through the looking glass.

As such, I hope Davis is serious when he speaks out against the types of sports owners we neither "need or want" in Washington. More than that, I hope he's ready to walk the talk. For starters, he could do something about Redskins owner Dan Snyder, a bossy, overbearing individual whose micromanaging tendencies put Davis and his ilk to shame.

On the other hand, lawmakers could learn from Snyder's fumbling example and stick to the sports activity they do best -- cozying up to lobbyists in the corporate box. Then again, where's the fun in that?

Patrick Hruby is a Page 2 columnist.

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