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Federal File: Nomination imminent?; By my count; Criticized camel

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Nomination Imminent?

America has gone nearly a year without a Surgeon General, but the Clinton administration is nearing a decision on a new nominee for the job.

Administration officials "have several candidates under consideration, and I wouldn't rule out the possibility of a nomination sometime soon," Mike McCurry, the chief spokesman for President Clinton, told reporters at a daily briefing late last month.

The Clinton administration's first surgeon general, Joycelyn Elders, was known for her outspoken comments on such topics as sex education, welfare, and drug legalization--remarks that were a continual source of embarrassment for a White House trying to position itself in the political center.

The last straw came when Ms. Elders suggested masturbation "is something that perhaps should be taught in schools." She resigned last December.

President Clinton then nominated Dr. Henry Foster, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Nashville. But Dr. Foster's views on abortion and questions over the number he had performed riled opponents. The Senate could not overcome a filibuster by Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, to take a vote on Dr. Foster's nomination.

By my count

Lawmakers eager to dismantle the Department of Education and the administration's education agenda have repeatedly held up for ridicule the 1994 law that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

In addition to specific provisions opponents simply don't like, they often point to the law's 927 pages as an example of federal meddling and inefficiency.

So it was interesting to watch Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., hold up a huge House bill--which includes everything from cuts in student-loan programs to welfare reform--at a recent news conference and cite its 1,000-some pages as evidence of well-thought-out, comprehensive legislation.

Criticized camel

President Clinton's recent attack on teenage smoking may be having some impact.

R.J. Reynolds has announced that Joe Camel, the cartoon character used by the company to advertise its products, will no longer appear on outdoor billboards. The ads have long been criticized for their appeal among young people, although R.J. Reynolds officials have denied that the camel targets kids.

Joe Camel will continue to be used in print ads and in-store promotions.

--Mark Pitsch

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