AS USUAL, there weren't apologies for the...


AS USUAL, there weren't apologies for the botched weather forecasts on July 4. The Weather Service (ultimately answering to the Commerce Department, which Speaker Newt wants to eliminate) and various private forecasters predicted "scattered showers" throughout the day, while parade officials, fireworks people and thousands of celebrants contended with an afternoon-long deluge.

But then late Monday, July 3, the forecasters predicted a line of thunder showers passing over Carroll County and northern Baltimore County. A correspondent just south of the storms set up camp on his northern-exposure porch.

"It was wonderful," he said. "I was out of range of the rain, but I watched the storm pass by. It was one of those summer storms that reminded me of nights on the Great Plains in my youth.

"Great pyrotechnics. Rolls of thunder. And beneath the light show, the fireflies seemed to want to perform with uncommon zeal. Lightning above, lightning below. What a show!

"Many leave the city during the second week of July, but few had a show like this one. And it was forecast with pinpoint accuracy."

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HERE'S a new slant on that well-known phrase "in context":

West Virginia's First Lady Rachael Worby, wife of Democratic Gov. Gaston Caperton, is conductor of the Wheeling Symphony. Speaking to hundreds of high school students at Fairmont State College recently, she "shared her likes and dislikes," as the Charleston Gazette put it. On Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole she said, "I think Bob Dole is an idiot on every subject, not just the arts. I'm not a political person, but I'm terrified by Bob Dole."

Dole spokesperson Nelson Warfield's reaction was, "There's almost no prayer [the senator's] going to respond to someone who called him an idiot."

Governor Caperton defended -- if that's the right word -- his wife's comments by saying, "They must be interpreted 'in context.' I think it's just a reflection of her passion for the arts."

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