Smart Talk Dec. 23 

Heckling back Bill Clinton always followed the political strategy of leaving no charge unanswered. So it was one day recently in New York when, the Daily News reported, he ran into a verbal mugging while strolling in Central Park. A heckler said Clinton had been an embarrassment as president. Replied Clinton, according to an observer, “Oh, really? I think I did a helluva job ... I’ll admit I misled people about my personal life. And I have even apologized for it, but I never misled the people about policy and I certainly never misled the people about going to war.” Clinton was swarmed by admirers, to whom he talked for 45 minutes. When he left, he told his detractor : “I hope your children turn out to be as perfect as you are, sir.” The group applauded. A race for Congress David Sanders of Stephens Media reported last week that Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh, a former Little Rock cop, is planning to run for Congress as a Republican in the 1st District in 2006. That would likely mean a match against incumbent Rep. Marion Berry. “I’m gonna kick his ass,” Stumbaugh reportedly said. Stumbaugh’s detractors say the tough-talker’s own butt could be kicked by some of his hijinks, reminiscent of another tall-talking lawman who resides in the 1st District. That would be the former congressman, paid political shill, liquor store clerk and virtually bankrupt farmer Tommy Robinson. Lessons from the master Capitol scuttlebutt says rising House Speaker Bill Stovall has been going to a legislative expert for advice for the coming session. So why won’t he return our phone and e-mail messages about whether he’s been making trips to a consultant’s office in the Quapaw Tower? Maybe it’s because the consultant is said to be Nick Wilson, the former senator, who’s back in business in Little Rock after completing a federal prison sentence for tapping illegally into state taxpayer funds through legislative schemes. That little issue aside, we might seek Wilson’s counsel, too. Here’s a guy who voted for abortion, for taxes, for highfalutin scientific research and managed to keep getting elected year after year. OK, so he could have stood improvement on ethical issues. You just need to be careful about what advice to follow. Advanced placement Small high schools are moaning about a new state requirement that all high schools offer at least four advanced placement courses, according to a report by Stephens Media on a recent legislative hearing. No kidding. They don’t teach them. Sen. Jim Argue says his research shows among the 50 smallest high schools, only nine offered at least one AP course. Among the 50 largest, 49 offered multiple AP courses. Small schools would like to slide by by referring kids with higher aspirations to community colleges. A gifted students counselor from Fayetteville put it bluntly: Those courses aren’t the same thing. Too easy. Community colleges are moaning that they’ll lose students.

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