YOU knew the House of Representatives' vote on the North American Free Trade Agreement was big doings because the local TV stations dispatched reporters to cover it.
One of the correspondents -- an anchor actually -- did a live report the night of the vote while the brightly lit Capitol dome gleamed in the gloaming behind her.
Breathlessly, as is the way with an anchor on his or her bi-annual assignment, she described a "contingency" of NAFTA detractors huddling nearby.
She then pulled Maryland Congressman Ben Cardin, a pro-NAFTA Democrat, into the camera's gaze and mentioned again the "contingency" of anti-NAFTA-ites.
Just a wild guess, but it's a safe bet that she meant to say "contingent" (a sub-group of a larger group) instead of "contingency" (an unforeseen or accidental occurrence, an emergency).
And now that NAFTA has passed the House and appears a certainty to win Senate approval, that contingency of NAFTA critics must be feeling as if they have a real contingent on their hands.
* * *
FROM a Nov. 16 editorial in The Toronto Globe and Mail:
"It's morning in America, to borrow from the 1984 Republican election slogan, and Americans of both political stripes appear to have finally seen the light: More than any other country in the civilized world, the United States needs gun control. The most significant example of the changing climate is the Brady Bill. An overwhelming number of Americans support this baby-step toward gun control. . . .
"The last significant piece of gun control legislation pushed through Congress came a generation ago, in 1968. The extent of Congress' response to the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.? A ban on mail-order rifle sales. The National Rifle Association, with a good chunk of public opinion and an even bigger reserve of cash on its side, barred the way to passage of anything stronger.
"Gun control by itself cannot fix everything that ails America, but it will surely save a few lives. Both Right and Left now agree on that much."