$15.7 million -- That's the best guess as to how much money taxpayers have donated, willingly or not, to President George W. Bush's fundraising efforts over the past year. It's the price to ferry him around the United States on Air Force One, with everyone -- Republicans and Democrats, Greens and Libertarians -- picking up the bill. Over that time, Bush has been able to raise $145 million for Republican candidates, according to CBS News.
It's nothing new, really, just one of the perks of the office. Bill Clinton was ripped by the GOP for spending more than $40 million of taxpayers' money for a single trip to Africa while he was president -- although he didn't raise much money over there. (Clinton did use the public dime to campaign, too.) But wasn't Bush supposed to be different? He criticized the overnighters in the White House's Lincoln Bedroom, yet he's used them as Clinton did, as a bonus for the best Republicans -- aka the ones who bring home the bacon.
$210,000 -- That's the share of those $15.7 million travel expenses that came directly out of the Office of Family Assistance. According to the Washington Post, it helped pay for five trips in which Bush promoted welfare reform during the day, then stumped for Republican office seekers at night -- often office seekers who'd like to cut welfare back even farther than it already has been.
330 -- That's how many federal political appointees -- including even the administrator of NASA -- were ordered by the White House to take vacation days in the weeks before the election to help the GOP cause. The leader of the largest of the unions that represent federal employees told the Washington Post that in his 34 years, it was the most blatant exertion of political pressure he'd ever seen coming from the White House. Yeah, but then he's probably a Democrat.
35 -- That's the number of people who died as a result of avalanches last year in the U.S. -- it's a record. A big part of the reason for the spike is because so many skiers and snowboarders are going out of bounds for bigger thrills. (You can read more on the subject in our Winter Sports section, in the "Out of Bounds" story on page 29.)
To help cut down on the tragedies, Mountain Gear is offering a free avalanche safety class on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 3 pm. The next day, at the Inlander-sponsored Snow Show at the Convention Center, they'll reprise the seminar. Spokane Mountaineers also offers a three-session backcountry ski school in December and a three-session avalanche seminar in January.