Published Online: June 18, 1997


Federal File

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Speaking from experience

Washington politicians give a lot of lectures about the importance of an education, but Rep. Lynn Rivers, D-Mich., can speak from experience.

As a pregnant teenager, she graduated from high school on a Friday evening in May 1975. The next day, she got married.

By the time she was 21, she and her husband had two young children and could barely pay their bills. "I realized that to go where I wanted to go, I had to get more education," she said during a recent speech.

During the next 15 years, while still holding a job, she earned her bachelor's degree and completed law school, and served on the local school board. Now in her second term in Congress, Ms. Rivers recently urged a higher education group to be more aggressive when lobbying for federal aid.

"Education profoundly changed my life," she said. "Is it a good investment? Absolutely--and I'm here to tell you."

Sour note

President Clinton's recent appearance on the VH-1 music channel struck a sour note with at least one colleague in Washington.

In "Bill Clinton: Rock & Roll President," Mr. Clinton spoke about his favorite artists and how music influenced his life.

But the one-hour special, which has aired several times recently, wasn't music to the ears of House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He sent a letter to the White House lambasting Mr. Clinton for wasting an opportunity to speak out against drug use to teenage music fans.

"Your silence on teenage drug use last night sent a powerful unintended message to young people that drug use isn't a big deal," the Republican wrote in the June 4 letter.

He urged the president to persuade VH-1 to air another special program, on the dangers of drug use, and give Mr. Clinton a starring role.

The White House quickly dismissed the letter. "VH-1, if you know anything at all about cable, is really geared for an older audience than the MTV audience," said spokesman Michael McCurry, a self-proclaimed VH-1 viewer. "When the president was most recently on MTV, he had a lot to say about drugs and drug use."


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