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Federal File: Singing for his supper; Most charitable; Another try?

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Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander called on his musical skills last week when he was chosen to be the Republican Party's designated comedian at the annual dinner of the Gridiron Club, an organization of Washington journalists.

The high-profile affair, attended by lawmakers, executive-branch officials, and journalists, traditionally includes a satirical skit put on by members of each party, "responses'' by spokesmen for each side, and a comic turn by the President himself.

Speakers are expected to lampoon members of both parties, and Mr. Alexander, who is said to be an accomplished pianist, ribbed President Bush with a song, to the tune of "You Made Me Love You:''

They made me tax you.

I didn't want to do it, Dick Darman said to do it.

That made me tax you,

And now I really rue it, this time I really blew it.

Education Department employees were quite generous this year.

Secretary Alexander accepted an award last week for their high level of contributions to the federal government's charitable-giving campaign, which allows workers to authorize payroll deductions to go to their choice from among 1,500 charities.

Department employees contributed $314,503 to the campaign, 136 percent of the agency's "goal'' of $230,000, a number determined by an agency's size.

Richard H. Truly, who stepped down last week as administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, urged his successor in a recent speech to put another schoolteacher on a space shuttle.

The first private citizen ever to participate in a NASA mission was the New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe, who died along with six astronauts when the space shuttle Challenger exploded after liftoff in 1986.

In an address to the National Congress of Aviation and Space Education, Mr. Truly suggested that Barbara Morgan, an Idaho elementary-school teacher who was Ms. McAuliffe's understudy, be allowed to go on an upcoming mission.

"She's ready, the space shuttle is ready, and the American people are ready,'' Mr. Truly said.

Ms. Morgan told The Associated Press that she wants to go.
"You judge the risk of things, and you decide what is and isn't important,'' she reportedly said. "To me, it's very important to fly for education.''--J.M.

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