Friday, May 13, 2005

Old DW's gift of gab reaches new generation

Old DW's gift of gab reaches new generation

By Mike Harris, The associated Press
May 12, 2005
11:02 AM EDT (15:02 GMT)

When Cale Yarborough dubbed Darrell Waltrip "Jaws," it certainly was not meant as a compliment.

Yarborough, who often battled bumper-to-bumper with Waltrip on the racetrack and jaw-to-jaw off it, liked to say: "That guy just never shuts up."

Waltrip, who often refers to himself as "Old DW," chuckles when reminded of those long-ago run-ins with his fellow three-time NASCAR champion, and his reputation as one of the most outspoken drivers in the sport's history.

"It's funny if you think about it," Waltrip said. "Now I make a pretty decent living talking."

That he does.

Waltrip, who retired from NASCAR's top stock car series following the 2000 season, is a color analyst on Fox Sports TV's coverage of Nextel Cup racing.

Combined with the latest in high-tech electronics and cutting-edge graphics, Fox commentators' "down home" style of humor and their relaxed approach in the booth -- they often sound like race fans sitting and jawing about their favorite sport in a sports bar -- has reinvented TV race coverage.

Waltrip, who went from a hated villain in his early driving days to a revered elder statesman before he retired, has been a big part of that.

His inventive "Boogity, boogity, boogity!" -- shouted as the field takes the green flag for the start of the race -- has become a signature line.

"I heard the word boogity a lot as a kid growing up in Kentucky but, a combination of three of them together, I don't think I'd heard that before," Waltrip said. "That 'Green, green, green! Go, go, go!' didn't do it for me.

"I just blurted that out one day and Mike (Joy) and Larry (McReynolds) both looked at me like, 'Where in the world did you get that from?'"

"We at Fox are supposed to be provocative, supposed to be cutting edge, a little different," Waltrip added. "There's people who love 'Boogity, boogity, boogity!' and there's people who hate it. You can't make everybody happy. When you're driving a car, you've got people who like you as a driver and you've got people who dislike you as a driver. I'm accustomed to that."

Waltrip insists he never expected to remain in the spotlight once he stopped racing on a full-time basis -- he still races a NASCAR truck once or twice a season.

"You don't usually get a chance to go from one successful career to another successful career," he said. "It's kind of unique. It's not an easy transition.

"The thing about when you drive, you can have a lot of fans. I had 10,000 members in my fan club. That's a big fan club. Now, I've probably got millions of members in my fan club, because that's how many people watch the races.

"I'm not saying everybody agrees with what you do. I'm not competing against anyone, so I am one with an audience of millions. Your face is more recognizable because you're not hiding behind a helmet. People see you on TV and they recognize you."

Waltrip said one thing he gets a big kick from is that more people now recognize his voice than his face.

"I can be walking around in a mall or in a grocery store or airport or anywhere and people will come over and say, 'I thought that was you. I recognized your voice.'

"It's been rather amazing to me," Waltrip said. "I figured that after I retired, I'd be done and people would forget about Old DW for a while. Then, someday, they'd induct me into a Hall of Fame and remember that I had a great driving career. But the TV thing has actually turned out to be bigger and better than my driving career ever was."

And, as he expected, Waltrip, tied for third on the career victory list with Bobby Allison with 84 wins -- one more than Yarborough -- made it into that Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala., on April 29 in his first year of eligibility.

Michael Waltrip, Darrell's younger brother and a current Cup driver, presented Old DW for induction.

"He's a wonderful person, a great role model on and off the track," Michael said in introducing Darrell. "He broke the mold on what a race driver was supposed to be about."

Now, the elder Waltrip is breaking some ground in TV, too.

"The thing that's so neat about it is I'm having more fun now than I've had in my life," Old DW said. "Whenever I start thinking about what's coming next, I just think, 'Boogity, boogity, boogity! Let's do it."'

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Bill's Comment: Boy, do we love DW? BOOGITY!,BOOGITY!!, BOOGITY!!!

Conversation: Darrell Waltrip

Conversation: Darrell Waltrip
By Dave Rodman, Turner Sports Interactive November 11, 2003
2:13 PM EST (1913 GMT)

As three-time NASCAR Winston Cup driver Darrell Waltrip himself has said many times, if ever a driver was meant to transfer his career from the cockpit to the broadcast booth, it was the native of Owensboro, Ky.

Now, after his third season as an integral member of FOX Sports' NASCAR broadcast team, Waltrip stands on the verge of actively getting back into the sport as a team owner in the Craftsman Truck Series.

As he looked ahead to the end of the NASCAR season, Waltrip took a few minutes to talk with's Dave Rodman about meshing a busy family life with his multi-faceted career as a broadcaster, part-time driver and team owner to be.

What kind of rejuvenation to your career has your time in the truck seat been?

Darrell Waltrip: It (racing a truck) does me a lot of good. I act as a driver, I speak as a driver, and that's how I want the guys in the garage area to think of me. I don't want them to think of me as a former Winston Cup champion that does TV.

I just want them to think of me as a racecar driver that goes up there and does TV (but) I speak their language and I'm a member of their fraternity. Getting out there in the truck and mixing it up a few times a year keeps me connected to that group of guys and that's really what's exciting about it, to me.

It also gives me some resources for talking about things that are going on during races, so it's served a lot of good purposes -- but rejuvenating my career was not one of them.

It's a little bit late to rejuvenate my career (laughing). I never did really want to retire, in 2000 -- but there just wasn't any place for me to go. I guess, in all honesty, that I had harmed my reputation by driving cars that were not competitive, so it was hard for me to find anything to do at my age.

Nobody wants to build a program around 53-year-old racecar drivers. I really had no options, so retirement was really the most logical thing to do based on what was going on at the time.

Quite honestly, I couldn't have been luckier, because in that process, in the year 2000 the (current) TV deal came along and everyone had always said, if there was one guy that was made for TV, that was me.

I think the Lord had something better planned for me all the time, if I had just given him a chance. If I had of just listened to the Lord instead of myself I probably would've been a lot better off in a lot of cases -- but certainly in this case.

How did you look at the timing of NASCAR's TV deal with partners FOX, NBC and TNT?

Darrell Waltrip: The great thing about the TV deal is that it's kept me involved in the sport. My vision, a long time ago when I had my own (Winston Cup) team was I would retire as a driver and continue on as a car owner with someone else driving my car.

I had to sell my team when I ran into sponsorship troubles, (but) if you want to talk about rejuvenating my career, Dale Earnhardt certainly did that when he put me in that 1 car (replacing the injured Steve Park in 1998). That let people see that even an old guy can still get the job done when he's in a good car.

What the TV package has done is let me stay involved, go to the racetracks and hang out with my buddies and still do the things I always loved to do. I think any athlete; part of the drill is the camaraderie he has with his teammates and the people that he competes against.

I think that's something people overlook a lot of times and for me, it's huge. It's one of the reasons I wanted to have my own team, so I could have my own guys and we could hang out together.

That's what makes it hard for a guy to walk away from any sport that he participates in, because there are so many relationships you have.

But that's the neat thing about the TV deal. I get to keep my motorhome and fly to the racetrack like I always did and the guys still think of me as a driver. So honestly, I have the best of all the worlds right now.

I couldn't have a better job (and) I'm working with great people -- a great team -- and that's how I approached it from day one.

I looked at it as though we were putting together a winning race team. That's the way we look at it every week, Larry (McReynolds) and Jeff (Hammond) and Mike (Joy) and I. We're just getting in there and getting ready to go racing.

Since you've been in the broadcast booth, do you think people should cut you guys a little bit of slack and realize how difficult it is to do that job?

Darrell Waltrip: I think something that maybe people fail to realize is that our sport is unpredictable. We're flying by the seat of our pants lap after lap after lap. You don't know who's gonna make the move, you don't know who's gonna have trouble.

You drop the green flag and buddy; you've got to be ready for anything. You've got to be ready for the point leader to have trouble, or for someone in the back of the pack to have trouble. There's always something and you have to roll with the flow.

We try to have stuff ready and we try to anticipate what's going to happen next. I think that's one of the things that we do really well because I've been to all of the race tracks and a lot of time I can script out what might happen, and get it pretty close.

That helps us to be pretty prepared for when we do the telecast. But we can't be ready for everything. Sometimes we have a graphic and we pop it out there and it just fits, but a lot of times we walk out of the booth saying 'Man, we could have done a better job of explaining this or that,' or 'We didn't give so-and-so enough credit for the kind of day he had.'

But there are 43 guys out there. You try to do the best you can for all of them, but for the most part the interest and the excitement is at the front of the field. We try to get back through there and give everybody their due, but man, it's tough.

I think one of the things that FOX does is use all the cameras -- we cover every race like it's the Super Bowl. They listen to Larry and me and Mike and they take us where we want to go. They don't put something up there and expect us to just talk about it.

Do you guys go into the next season feeling like you have to outdo yourselves from the past year, or is it just a comfortable shoe deal where you just carry on and the team, and the product prevails?

Darrell Waltrip: Certainly, the more time that we work together the better we're going to be. We walk out of the booth in July and we don't go back in, to do the races, until February. That's a long time to be away from calling the action, even though we still do some things on Speed Channel, such as Trackside and qualifying shows.

I study my tapes from the races just like I did when I was driving. I get the tapes from the races on Tuesday and I sit down and watch them two or three times, listening to everything I said and what Larry and Mike said and how we can complement each other better and do a better job of covering the race.

It's a lot of hard work. It's not just walking into the booth and putting on a coat and tie and watching a race. You have a lot of homework to do, what everybody's done at every track, what changes are being made on race teams, what car they have, what engine, who their crew chief is, who his wife his, their children, where they stay, what they had for dinner, how they got there. . .

You've got to know a lot of stuff and you better get it right. The way this sport is watched by so many millions of people today and with all the news shows and magazines and radio -- you better get it right, because if you don't someone is going to let you know about it in a heartbeat.

As much as the family is the glue for a lot of what goes on while you're driving, what has the impact of your family, Stevie and your daughters Jessica Leigh and Sarah; once you stopped driving?

Darrell Waltrip: If there's one thing, more than any other, that is beautiful about my job, it's that we only do work half the year. Still, our half the year is the same as an entire season in any other sport.

But I work half the season, and the other half of the season I do what Stevie and the girls want to do. I've told people I'm trying to pay Stevie back 30 years, a half a year at a time, and that's gonna take a while. She's put 30 years into this sport just like I have and I'm trying to give her back a little of that at a time.

Jessica has just turned 16 and she wants to get her (learner's) permit and Sarah's 11 and they've got so many interests that they need their dad there to help them with.

I don't play the piano and I don't do ballet. Sarah thinks she'd like to be an actress, but it just makes them feel so much better when all their friends are in a recital or whatever they're doing -- and not a lot of dads are there but their dad's there.

I know how important that is to them and how good it makes them feel and it's neat that I'm able to do that. Even though we spent all that time together at the racetracks for all those years, that was just quantity time -- it wasn't a lot of quality time; and that's what I'm able to give them now, where in the past I wasn't able to spend that quality time.

How exciting has it been for you to see your brother Michael succeed as much as he has over the past couple seasons at DEI?

Darrell Waltrip: I've always worried about Michael because I always knew he could drive a racecar. Until he won the Daytona 500 in 2001, I had always said he was the best guy out there that hadn't won a race.

He just never was in the right situation so that he could show what he could do. But he had a ton of experience and Earnhardt knew that. Dale and I talked about it time and time again, about giving Michael an opportunity, and when the chance came to put Michael in the NAPA car Dale was excited because he knew Michael could win races.

I was excited because I knew, for the first time Michael was in a situation that was right for him. I guess you could just say that he's a late bloomer. He's matured late, I guess, but I think the thing that really helped Michael was the confidence that Dale showed in him and instilled in him for putting him in that car.

Winning the 2001 Daytona 500 was the greatest thing that could've happened for Michael, but it happened under absolutely horrible circumstances (when Earnhardt was killed). It affected Michael, for about six months after, when he just couldn't get over what had happened.

If you remember, people were saying that Michael and Steve Park were going to be out at DEI. Well, Michael and Teresa (Earnhardt) and Ty (Norris) and all of them sat down and Teresa told Michael he had to get focused back on what Dale hired him to do -- that was what Dale would expect him to do.

They had a really great pep talk with Michael and from that point on, he has been driving the best I have ever seen him drive in his whole career, and this season particularly. He is driving as good this season as anyone I've seen.

The race he won at Talladega (EA Sports 500), those moves he made on the last lap were Earnhardt-esque moves -- it looked like Dale was driving that car. At tracks where he really had struggled at in the past he's done well and it's a shame he's not going to be up in the top-10 in points.

Yes, I'm proud of my brother and he's doing a great job. People sometimes give me a hard time about talking about Mikey. But if he wasn't my brother, he was just some guy driving that 15 car, based on how he's performed I'd be doing the same thing for that guy as well. It just so happens it's my brother.

You've been part of a lot of changes in the sport, but what do you see such moves as the onset of Nextel as Winston Cup Series sponsor and Sunoco as the official fuel mean to the sport?

Darrell Waltrip: I look at changes like that just like I look at the fan base that we've created. Our drivers are younger and our demographics have probably moved from an older crowd maybe to a little bit younger crowd.

There's not many of them down there that have watched Darrell Waltrip win 84 races, or that watched Bill Elliott qualify at 212 miles per hour and make up two laps to win at Talladega.

We have an incredible past and an incredible history, but I also believe that people sometimes get complacent and they don't drive the sport. I believe that with these new sponsors that are coming into our sport, the caliber of Nextel and Sunoco, I think that's good for our sport.

I think they'll have a different outlook and a different approach. I think they'll have marketing ideas that we haven't seen in the past. I think there will be a lot of good things come out of these relationships in the future.

As much as I liked R.J. Reynolds and the people there, who are some of my dear friends, with government regulations they were limited in what they could do and limited in the benefit that they could derive from their sponsorship. Those are limits that Nextel won't be faced with.

Tom DeLay Says Democrats Have 'No Class'

Tom DeLay Says Democrats Have 'No Class'

By SHARON THEIMER, Associated Press Writer
Fri May 13, 3:50 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Rep. Tom DeLay (news, bio, voting record) fired back at Democrats raising ethics questions about him, telling a crowd of conservative activists that the GOP's opponents have no ideas and "no class." The House majority leader's supporters — among them a dozen conservative organizations — staged a high-profile show of support by throwing a $250-a-plate gala in his honor Thursday night that brought roughly 900 people to the Capital Hilton.

When the Texas Republican took the stage after other speakers had hailed him for his leadership in the Republican Party and the House, he made only a passing reference to the problems that have sparked calls for an ethics probe, joking that one speaker's anecdote had tipped reporters off to another foreign trip he took.

Instead, DeLay told the crowd that as Republicans helped Americans find jobs and helped the country recover from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Democrats offered the country nothing.

"No ideas. No leadership. No agenda. And, just in the last week, we can now add to that list, no class," DeLay said in a reference to Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid's remark to school children that President Bush was "a loser." Reid later apologized to Bush adviser Karl Rove.

The ethics questions DeLay faces from Democrats and other critics stem in part from foreign travel arranged by Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist accused of defrauding clients of millions of dollars.

DeLay has asked the House ethics committee to review his travel records. He has portrayed the ethics questions raised about him as a Democratic-organized smear campaign, a message that went over well with conservative activists at the gala.

"I think the message tonight is, if they pick a fight with Tom DeLay, they pick a fight with all of us," Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said.

The crowd dined on filet mignon and salmon and a dessert of red-white-and-blue frosted cake decorated with candy hammers, a reference to the nickname DeLay earned when he was House majority whip.

Several protesters shouted outside the hotel, some holding signs reading "Congress can't police itself" and "Congress — owned and operated by Tom DeLay."

Rep. Tom Feeney (news, bio, voting record), R-Fla., while defending DeLay, said he thinks tighter ethics rules are inevitable. He supports a proposal to make lawmakers and congressional aides get their trips vetted by the ethics panel before they travel.

"We need going forward to have rules that are less gray and ambiguous and more black and white," Feeney said.

Several other congressional Republicans also attended the gala, including House Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri. President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were not invited, but Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman was there and sat at the head table with DeLay.


On the Net:

American Conservative Union:

Bill's Comment: Can I get an AMEN to that?

Pentagon urges closing 33 major U.S. military bases

Pentagon urges closing 33 major U.S. military bases

By Will Dunham
Fri May 13,12:03 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Friday recommended the closure of 33 major domestic U.S. military bases and the realignment of 29 more, threatening a hard economic blow to many communities across the United States.

"Our current arrangements, designed for the Cold War, must give way to the new demands of the war against extremism and other evolving 21st century challenges," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a statement.

Numerous other smaller facilities also were recommended for closing as Rumsfeld gave a nine-member Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission his recommendations to shut about one in 10 of the 318 major bases in the United States and its territories.

Prominent bases recommended for closure on the list included: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine; Fort McPherson in Georgia; Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota; Naval Station Pascagoula in Mississippi; and Fort Monmouth in New Jersey. Others included Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico, and Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut.

The head of the commission earlier this month acknowledged the big impact, saying there "will be tsunamis in the communities they hit." Many communities mounted frantic lobbying efforts to try to save their local bases.

Mike Wynne, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said the Pentagon recommended closing or realigning a 775 other smaller military locations.

Rumsfeld did not participate in the briefing.

The Pentagon said its recommendations would result in $5.5 billion in recurring annual savings and a net savings of $48.8 billion over 20 years.

Total defense savings, combined with those anticipated by realigning U.S. forces worldwide, would be $6.7 billion a year and $64.2 billion after costs over 20 years, the Pentagon said.

Wynne said the process of actually closing the bases would cost about $24 billion.

Coinciding with the domestic base-closing process, the Pentagon is working on plans to shift roughly 70,000 troops stationed abroad, primarily in Europe but also from South Korea, back to domestic U.S. bases.

At the same time, the United States has a major commitment of combat forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of the 33 major bases to be closed, the Army would have the largest number at 14, followed by 10 for the Air Force and nine for the Navy. But facilities for the Army's foot soldiers would grow at 18 of its bases compared to growth at 14 each for the Air Force and Navy.

The commission will evaluate Rumsfeld's plan and make possible additions or subtractions. Their list, in turn, will be sent to Bush by Sept. 8. If he accepts that plan, he would forward the list to Congress, which can approve or reject it entirely but not make changes.

The previous four rounds of domestic base closings, in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995, resulted in the closure of 97 major facilities and many more closures and consolidations of smaller bases. None of the prior rounds involved closing more than 28 major bases.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush's focus was on the affected communities. "We want to make sure that they have the assistance they need to transition once these decisions become final," McClellan said.

Selig: Drug-testing working, but integrity questions must end

Selig: Drug-testing working, but integrity questions must end

By RONALD BLUM, AP Sports Writer
May 12, 2005
NEW YORK (AP) -- Bud Selig wants to stop the steroids debate in baseball.

While he insisted the sport's current drug-testing program was working, the baseball commissioner said he proposed even tougher rules last month in order to end suspicion.

``Just the impugning of one's integrity and the sport's integrity is something that we just can't allow,'' Selig said Wednesday after owners unanimously endorsed his plan. ``Is it unfair? Yeah, I believe it is unfair, but we have to do something about it so we quit talking about it.''

Selig's steroids proposal, made to the union last month, calls for a 50-game ban for first-time offenders, a 100-game penalty for second-time offenders and a lifetime ban for a third positive test. It also would penalize the use of amphetamines and have an outside expert run the program.

``This became fairly or unfairly an integrity issue, an integrity issue of everybody in the sport, starting with the commissioner. And that, frankly, is what has driven me,'' Selig said. ``Whether the program is working today is not the issue because I think we would agree with the players' association it is working. That isn't the issue because the integrity issue transcends that.''

Management and the union agreed to toughened rules in January that included 10-day suspensions for first-time offenders starting this year. But Selig decided even stricter rules were necessary and made his proposal to the union April 25.

``The only variable that really changed was Jose Canseco,'' Selig said. ``As a result of all that, there's been a lot of comment. And whether I think it's fair or unfair is irrelevant.''

In an autobiography released in February, Canseco detailed his allegations of widespread steroid use in baseball, and many players denied his charges. He repeated some of them at a congressional hearing on March 17, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were among several past and present stars to testify.

Several congressmen have called for legislation on steroid testing. Several have proposed that baseball appoint an investigator to examine what occurred over the years.

``It's been a subject of ongoing discussion,'' Selig said.

Union head Donald Fehr, who said he would discuss Selig's proposal with management, declined comment after Selig's news conference.

In other matters:

-- Major league baseball and the players' association said they will go ahead with a 16-nation World Baseball Classic in March, an event that has been in the planning stages for several years. Agreements remain incomplete, and major league baseball hopes to have a formal launch of the tournament at the All-Star game in July.

-- New controlling owners were unanimously approved for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. Ken Kendrick, Arizona's new controlling owner, took over after Jerry Colangelo was forced out last year. Charlie Monfort, Colorado's controlling owner, replaced Jerry McMorris as the team's chairman and chief executive officer in March 2003.

-- Selig hopes major league baseball's sale process of the Washington Nationals concludes the ``sooner the better.'' The franchise, then the Montreal Expos, was bought by the other 29 teams before the 2002 season.

Following the end of the quarterly meeting, Selig said he was bothered by accusations that owners turned a blind eye toward steroid use in the 1990s, calling that revisionist history.

``I keep reading and hearing ... that owners must have known and so on and so forth,'' he said. ``I've spent a lot of time talking to general managers, scouts, trainers, a lot of people, and of course they take umbrage to that, as do I.''

``I think everybody's been besmirched, starting with me,'' he said.

He said he made the proposal to ban amphetamines because ``we need to put an end to all whispers. This sport is too good to allow itself to be subjected to whispers when they can do something about it and clean it up.''

``There's a lot of anecdotal stuff that's gone on,'' he said. ``I was a young kid who walked into the Milwaukee Braves clubhouse and I heard about it, and that was 1958, so that's 47 years ago. You can talk to people that go four, five and six decades back.''

As for the international tournament, the commissioner's office is in the process of issuing invitations. Baseball will invite Cuba and is working with the U.S. State Department. The commissioner's office hopes both current Cuban players and defectors will be on a Cuban team.

``We're hoping people can lay politics aside,'' said Tim Brosnan, baseball's executive vice president for business. ``The basis for this event is the best players in the world, period. Political affiliation, etc., not a consideration.''

Baseball hopes to stage the tournament again in 2009 and every four years after that.

Updated on Thursday, May 12, 2005 2:42 am EDT

Study Shows Traffic Keeps Getting Worse

Study Shows Traffic Keeps Getting Worse

By LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press Writer
Mon May 9, 5:21 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Sitting in traffic, an annoying part of life in many big cities, is becoming a major headache in places not usually lumped in with New York, Washington and Los Angeles.

Take Omaha, Neb. Each year, motorists in one of the country's most wide-open states spend the equivalent of nearly a full day in highway gridlock, according to the annual Urban Mobility Report released Monday by the Texas Transportation Institute.

Omaha is among a growing list of metropolitan areas where drivers are delayed at least 20 hours a year. There are 51 such places now, compared to just five in 1982. Among some of the newer entries: Colorado Springs, Colo.; Virginia Beach, Va.; Charleston, S.C.; New Haven, Conn.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Salt Lake City; and Cincinnati.

"That's where the growth is," said Tim Lomax, one of the report's co-authors. "The medium cities are about 10-15 years behind the big cities."

And 10-15 years is about how long it takes to complete transportation projects that reduce congestion, Lomax said.

The numbers, from 2003 data, reflect a long-established trend of people moving to the suburbs for more affordable housing and space. The report concluded that urban areas aren't adding enough roads, improving traffic operations or managing demand well enough to keep pace with the societal changes.

The result is clogged highways, and the king of that road nightmare is Los Angeles, where motorists are delayed an average of 93 hours a year. San Francisco was next with 72 hours, followed by Washington (69 hours), Atlanta (67 hours) and Houston (63 hours).

In the 85 urban areas studied, rush-hour drivers spent three times as much time stuck in traffic in 2003 — 47 hours — than they did in 1982, the study found.

Washington-area commuter Reynold Walbrook spent more than an hour Monday traveling eight miles through the Maryland suburbs. Walbrook, a pharmaceutical salesman from Glenn Dale, Md., said the reason was an accident, an all-too-frequent rush-hour occurrence on the roads around the nation's capital.

"Everyone was on the cellphone, and whoever was on the other end was getting the rage," Walbrook said.

Alan Pisarski, author of a book titled "Commuting in America" and a transportation consultant, said many major traffic problems these days are out in the suburbs and along the edges of metropolitan regions.

"Patterns change," Pisarski said. "More of the jobs move out to the suburbs to be near the skilled workers."

Overall in 2003, there were 3.7 billion hours of travel delay and 2.3 billion gallons of wasted fuel for a total cost of more than $63 billion. Congestion delayed travelers 79 million more hours and wasted 69 million more gallons of fuel in 2003 than in 2002.

The report was released Monday, the same day the Senate resumed debate on a bill that would spend $284 billion on highways over the next six years.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials estimated it would take as much as $400 billion in federal spending over the next six years to solve traffic problems, based on a 2002 study.

Lomax offered a gloomy forecast for relieving congestion: lots more money or a weak economy that takes people off the roads.

"The things that dramatically change congestion are loss of jobs or major commitments to expand capacity," Lomax said.

But congestion can also be reduced by managing traffic better. The report said such techniques as coordinating traffic signals, smoothing traffic flow on major roads and creating teams to respond quickly to accidents reduced delay by 336 million hours in 2003.

Robert Dunphy, senior resident fellow for transportation at the Urban Land Institute, said that half of all traffic delays are caused by car crashes.

"There are huge benefits to getting in there and clearing accidents quickly," Dunphy said.

Commuters also adapt, said Pisarski. "People give up and go somewhere else," he said.

Chrystn Alston Eads used to spend an hour driving to work on Capitol Hill from her home in Annandale, Va., a suburb 15 miles west of Washington. The commute, she said, was hard on her two small children.

"I was just kind of talking to them from the front seat," she said.

Two years ago she and her husband moved to Capitol Hill, near where she works in the Senate. Eads said she now walks the kids to school and reads to them at night.

"We love it," she said.

The report was partially funded by two groups that advocate more government spending on transportation projects — the American Public Transportation Association and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. State transportation departments and the Texas Transportation Institute, which is part of the Texas A&M University System, also paid for the study.


On the Net:

An interactive map of some of the nation's most-gridlocked areas:

Transportation Department:

Texas Transportation Institute:

A year later, Smarty Jones is living large

A year later, Smarty Jones is living large

By JIM LITKE, AP Sports Writer
May 6, 2005

MIDWAY, Ky. (AP) -- The love affair hasn't cooled one bit.

A year after he set the nation's heart fluttering, Smarty Jones still possesses the looks, charm and self-assuredness of a champion. A movie is already in the works. And now, on top of all that, he's got ... the life.

Retired at stud on a breeding farm in the rolling hills near Lexington, barely an hour's drive east from the Churchill Downs racetrack where a Derby victory in 2004 catapulted Smarty Jones into America's sporting constellation forever, the 4-year-old chestnut spends his days lounging, lunching and -- how to put this delicately? --loving.

Morning, afternoon and night.

``He's taken to his new career with gusto,'' said Dan Rosenberg, president of Three Chimneys Farm.

On this sun-splashed Thursday afternoon, Smarty Jones naps on the floor of a large stall that once belonged to Seattle Slew inside a handsomely decked-out barn along with five other distinguished stallions. Imagine the equine equivalent of MTV's ``Cribs,'' or ``The Real World,'' and you have the picture. He gets bathed each morning, eats when he wants, and roams a 2-acre paddock under the stars each night. He even has a two person-staff to handle the crush of mail and requests for strands of hair or straws of hay from his bed, and book his string of appointments.

Five days a week, every week, a single tour group numbering 25 comes through to see him up close, to gaze into the dark, lively eyes flickering beneath the fringe of hair that still falls across his face like a trademark. Up to three times a day during thoroughbred mating season, from mid-February through July (88 times so far; 111 by the end), a mare is ushered into a breeding shed to the south of Smarty's stall to be -- as they say in the industry -- covered.

His stud fee is $100,000 per live foal, not bad for a horse who retired with $7.6 million in earnings, the third-best total ever. That's why mares have dropped by from as far away as Germany and Japan. Each session in the shed -- actually another handsome barn, complete with pine paneling, thickly padded walls and shredded-tire floors -- is videotaped to guarantee paternity. If there was a bathrobe hanging from a hook, the place would look like Hugh Hefner did the decorating.

``The tough thing with the schedule is making sure he doesn't get too tired,'' explained Margaret Layton, Three Chimneys' publicist. ``He does have an occupation.''

The race that turned Smarty Jones and his band of human brothers into instant celebrities will be run in nearby Louisville for the 131st time Saturday. Afterward, the winning horse will be draped with a blanket of roses and his jockey, trainer and owners interviewed on national television. Whether any or all of them connect with the sporting public the way Smarty Jones did remains to be seen.

But the odds are a lot longer than the 50-1 you can get at a betting window on the longest shot in the Derby field.

``I'm still not sure exactly why things happened the way they did,'' John Servis, Smarty's trainer, said over the telephone from Churchill Downs.

``But on the inside, it felt like we were part of a play that had already been written. You had this little, Pennsylvania-bred from a $10,000 sire who damn near killed himself before we could even point him toward the Derby. Meanwhile, the owner is in a wheelchair battling emphysema, and the rest of us are kind of blue-collar guys from Philadelphia.

``It was like we were a bunch of actors,'' Servis paused, ``there just to sit back and enjoy the ride.''

A year later, after the elation and a record win in the Preakness, then the staggering disappointment of a Triple Crown bid undone in the grueling Belmont, the principals in the drama are relatively healthy, happy and well off.

Servis and jockey Stewart Elliott, who were kings at tiny Philadelphia Park, but unknowns in racing's elite circles before the Derby, have ridden fame to better and more varied opportunities. Well-heeled clients now find their way to Servis' barn offering better prospects, and Elliott gets called to ride quality mounts at Monmouth Park and Aqueduct, both a step up racing's food chain from their gritty little base in Philly.

The duo nearly made it back to Churchill Downs this spring, but a poor showing by Rockport Harbor in the Lexington Stakes two weeks ago sidelined their star-crossed Derby candidate for the time being.

``It was disappointing, because it seemed like he had that something special, too,'' Elliott said, taking time out from a drive to Monmouth Park to answer his cell phone. ``But it reminded me just how magical last year was, how everything that had to fall into place did.''

Owners Pat and Roy Chapman are still wintering in Florida, back to keeping a much lower profile in the racing business. Roy, the blunt-speaking Philadelphia car dealer, continues to battle emphysema and turned 79 on Wednesday. The couple's sons, Mike and Randy, represented them at the Smarty party set up Thursday at Three Chimneys.

``None of us will ever forget it, and the topic comes up all the time,'' Mike said. ``Just not every time we talk anymore.''

None of the principals knows whether they'll ever see another horse like Smarty, nor even whether they'll run across one of his foals, which won't make their Derby debut until 2008. But all of them are hoping for just one.

``I feel like it could happen again, absolutely,'' Servis said. ``It just feels like this play hasn't ended yet. like somehow, there's more to come.''

Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at<

Updated on Friday, May 6, 2005 2:28 am EDT

Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams Re-Elected

Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams Re-Elected

By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer
Fri May 6,10:42 AM ET

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams won easy re-election Friday as a member of British Parliament, as hard-liners on both sides of the Northern Ireland divide appeared poised for strong gains.

Adams' victory in Catholic west Belfast, his power base since 1997, was the first of 18 results to be declared in Northern Ireland, where the leaders of the British province's two major moderate parties faced struggles to win their own seats.

"It's a very, very proud and humbling day for me," said Adams, a reputed IRA commander whose party refuses to take its seats in the House of Commons in London because it requires an oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II.

Adams received 70 percent of the votes cast in west Belfast. The results for the 17 other constituencies will be released later Friday.

Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army-linked party, expects to build its status as the No. 1 party among Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland. It previously held four seats but expects to win at least five.

The hard-line Democratic Unionist Party, which represents most of the province's British Protestant majority, expects to fare even better, potentially wiping out the moderate Ulster Unionists led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate David Trimble.

The Ulster Unionists have hemorrhaged support among Protestants because of Trimble's support for Northern Ireland's 1998 Good Friday peace accord. He was one of five sitting Ulster Unionist lawmakers in danger of losing their seats to Democratic Unionists.

Mark Durkan, leader of the moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party, also faced a tense wait. His party used to represent most Catholics but since 2001 has fallen increasingly behind Sinn Fein.

Defeats for Trimble or Durkan would probably force them out as leaders of their parties and further strengthen the hard-liners, who have failed to revive a power-sharing administration for Northern Ireland, the central goal of the 1998 accord.

A previous coalition led by Trimble and Durkan fell apart in 2002 following protracted arguments over IRA activities.

Starbucks puts lid on Springsteen CD, cites lyrics

Starbucks puts lid on Springsteen CD, cites lyrics

By Sue Zeidler
Thu May 5, 7:38 PM ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp., a growing force in the music scene, on Thursday said it chose to keep Bruce Springsteen's new chart-topping album, "Devils & Dust," off the menu at its coffee shops, partly because of concerns about its explicit lyrics.

The album is the first CD ever by Springsteen to get an advisory label because of the steamy lyrics on the single "Reno," which includes a description of anal sex and an encounter with a prostitute.

Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment for the Seattle-based operator of 4,400 North American coffee houses, stressed the decision was mostly due to other considerations, including plans to stock other upcoming CDs, but said content was a concern.

"There were a number of factors involved. It (the lyrics) was one of the factors, but not the only reason," Lombard told Reuters.

He said Starbucks' two Hear Music stores in Santa Monica and Berkeley, California were selling "Devils & Dust," even though the CD would not be stocked in coffee shops.

Newsweek this week reported Starbucks retreated from a deal with Springsteen's label, Sony BMG's Columbia Records, to distribute the CD in thousands of its stores.

"While we agreed the lyrics to 'Reno' did warrant an advisory, our decision to choose another title to showcase was ultimately an issue of scheduling," said Lombard, noting the Springsteen release conflicted with Starbucks' plan to showcase a CD this month by female rockers Antigone Rising.

Lombard said Sony brought the album's advisory sticker to the attention of Starbucks.

"We have great respect for Bruce Springsteen and for Sony. We're confident that we'll all have the opportunity to work together in the future," Lombard said.

A spokesman for Sony BMG, a joint venture of Sony Corp (SNE.N). and Bertelsmann AG, said the company was pleased Starbucks was carrying the album in its two California specialty stores.

Seattle-based Starbucks made its mark in music sales this past year by accounting for 25 percent of the nearly 3 million units sold of the late Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company."

Other artists, like jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux, have seen a boost in sales from Starbucks.

Springsteen's new album sold 222,000 copies in the week that ended Sunday, May 1, making it the artist's second album in a row to debut at No. 1 on the sales charts, according to music retailer tracker Nielsen SoundScan.


Bill's Comment: Pardon my language, but FUCK Starbucks! With all of the crap on the airwaves today, can it be that bad?

Award for judge in Schiavo case criticized

Award for judge in Schiavo case criticized

By Robert Green
Fri May 6, 9:35 AM ET

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Reuters) - The Florida judge who presided over the politically and emotionally charged Terri Schiavo case received a special award from a local legal association on Thursday, prompting more controversy.

Judge George Greer received the West Pasco Bar Association's Special Justice Award for his integrity and professionalism, according to the attorney in charge of the event, Alan Miller. He said the award was intended to honor Greer for his entire career, not just the Schiavo case.

"I liken this to a lifetime achievement award for an actor," Miller said. "He's an excellent judge. He followed the law."

Greer ordered Schiavo's feeding tube removed on March 18 at her husband Michael's request and over the objections of her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler. Schiavo died on March 31 at a hospice in Pinellas Park, near St. Petersburg.

She had been in what doctors said was a persistent vegetative state since suffering a heart attack in 1990 and her husband said she would not have wanted to remain alive in her condition.

President Bush, his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Vatican officials urged that Schiavo be kept alive and the U.S. Congress passed an emergency law requiring federal courts to review Greer's decision. But a federal judge in Tampa, an Atlanta federal appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court all refused to overrule him.

Greer, a 63-year old Republican, was first elected as a judge in 1992 and was re-elected three times, including twice after he first ruled in 2000 that Schiavo's feeding tube could be removed.

Miller said his office had received telephone calls from people around the country upset about the award to Greer.

Among those condemning the award was Father Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, who called Greer "a murderer" and said no court had moral authority to take innocent life.

"Terri was not dying until she stopped receiving food and water ... It does not require any legal or medical expertise to recognize that as murder. Nobody who has lost the basic capability to understand that should be honored," said Pavone, who spent several days at the hospice before Schiavo's death.

Greer received several death threats during the case and resigned from the Baptist Church he attended because of the controversy.