Hail to the overachieving underachiever

BETWEEN THE LINES

June 27, 2005

During a speech in Maryland last week, President Bush called for more accountability from American high school students through more rigorous testing. But then he boasted about his own low grades and how little they mattered in his climb to power.

"I appreciate the secretary of energy joining me today," Bush said, standing near Samuel W. Bodman before an audience at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in southern Maryland. "I was teasing him. He's a, taught at MIT, and, you have a Ph.D.?"

"Yes," Bodman replied.

"A Ph.D. Now I want you to pay careful attention to this: He's the Ph.D. and I'm the C student, but notice who's the adviser and who's the president," Bush said.

The audience of about 200 highly educated nuclear engineers, technicians and other employees of the power plant, applauded loudly.

- Tom Pelton

Offering a fare deal

Say you're a tourist flying into Baltimore. You hop a cab at the airport and, while driving into town, you ask the cabbie for a dinner recommendation.

Don't be surprised if the answer is Blue Sea Grill.

The downtown restaurant is trying to win over cab drivers with free eats. Last week its owner, Big Steaks Management, dangled the prospect of a gratis boxed lunch before the city's cabbies.

About 80 showed up for a meal that included the restaurant's lobster macaroni and cheese.

The restaurant is so convinced of cab drivers' rainmaking ability - and apparently lack of objectivity - that it plans to offer the lunch on a monthly basis, as well as other incentives, for drivers who repeatedly bring in customers.

- Jill Rosen

I was a teenage comptroller

Carroll County Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge looked a little askance when Rob Burke, acting comptroller, introduced the latest addition to his staff last week. The young man wore business casual and an employee ID badge.

Don Klapka, 17, is interning with the comptroller's office this summer before returning to North Carroll High School for his senior year. The placement fits neatly with the Board of Education's Academy of Finance program this summer.

"I feel a little better that he is still in school," Gouge said. "When he came in with a badge, I thought either I am getting older or our employees are getting a lot younger."

- Mary Gail Hare

He could be president

Jose M. Torres, assistant superintendent for student support services for the Anne Arundel County public school system, gave teachers, administrators and other schools officials an assignment last week at a leadership conference on Anne Arundel's new comprehensive approach to reaching instruction.

He asked them to put The World is Flat by New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman on their summer reading lists. Torres then read a passage from the book about the needs of the future labor market before making a confession: "I haven't read the whole thing, either.

"You read the first chapter, you read the jacket, you sound like you read it," Torres said.

- Liz Kay

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