President Johnson's late-night phone calls to reporters who wrote about him unfavorably are legendary. It is odd, therefore, that a Republican White House news secretary would pick him as a role model. Yet, in Monday's New York Daily News, writer Bill Hutchinson recounts a 10:45 a.m. (he works nights) call he received at home from Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer, demanding a correction to an article he said misrepresented the way he described the president's view of a critical issue of national importance -- "a 158-word article I had written in my job as a Daily News rewriteman that suggested Bush was not a fan of the New York Yankees."
The pajama-clad Hutchinson reports he concluded from the call that Fleischer, a native New Yorker, "is really just a disgruntled Mets fan."
(From UPI's Capital Comment)
THINGS WE DON'T UNDERSTAND
Brad Pitt, who by most standards pretty much has it all, remembers a time when he didn't feel so hot about himself -- and even went through therapy to deal with his issues.
In the new issue of Vanity Fair, Pitt said the decision to seek help was complicated by his Missouri upbringing "where you had to be crazy to go to a doctor."
He wouldn't say when he underwent therapy, but he said the decision came at a low point in his life.
"I crashed and burned," he said, "so I wanted to understand how I operate."
The magazine also quoted Pitt as saying he has "thought about pulling a Mariah Carey" -- a reference to the singer's well-publicized nervous breakdown earlier this year. But Pitt quickly added: "I was just joking."
Pitt is on the promotion trail to plug two new movies. He stars with Robert Redford in "Spy Game," directed by his "Se7en" and "Flight Club" director, David Fincher. In December, Pitt shares the screen with George Clooney and Julia Roberts in Steven Soderbergh's remake of the 1960 Rat Pack comedy-caper, "Ocean's Eleven."
(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)
NEWS OF OTHER LIFE FORMS
Scientists say they've discovered the largest fossil cockroach ever found -- a giant bug more than 3 inches long that lived 300 million years ago, some 55 million years before the first dinosaurs roamed the earth.
The extraordinarily well-preserved insect was discovered along with hundreds of fossils of other animals and plants in a coal mine in northeastern Ohio nicknamed "the 7-11 mine" due to its location between Ohio state routes 7 and 11.
The researchers said they hope this treasure trove will help scientists better understand ancient life and how the Earth's climate has changed throughout history.
"It was quite a creepy time, with roaches everywhere. The roaches were definitely dominant," said geologist Cary Easterday of Ohio State University in Columbus.
While the roach is more than twice as big as the typical American cockroach, Easterday added that modern roaches in the tropics are known to grow 4 inches or bigger.
"The largest roaches live today," he told UPI.
TODAY'S SIGN THE WORLD IS ENDING
Just days after the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees to become the quickest expansion team in league history to capture its first World Series championship, baseball owners on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of eliminating two teams by the start of the 2002 season. Commissioner Bud Selig did not name the teams, but the Minnesota Twins, Florida Marlins, Montreal Expos and Tampa Bay Devil Rays have been mentioned as the likeliest candidates for elimination.
AND FINALLY, TODAY'S UPLIFTING STORY
A Wisconsin medical student is recovering in a Duluth, Minn., hospital -- suffering from frostbite -- after spending nine days lost in the wilds of northern Minnesota.
Jason Rasmussen, 29, of Bloomington, Minn., was rescued last Wednesday after getting lost during what was supposed to be a three-day hiking trip around a lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Although he had brought food and supplies, he became separated from his campsite. All he had on him were two Tootsie Rolls, a Swiss Army knife, a whistle, two packages of crackers, a can of tuna and the clothes on his back.
Rasmussen told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he fashioned a shelter from a fallen pine tree and spent the time thinking of his favorite restaurants. He staved off dehydration by eating snow.
When Rasmussen didn't return home by Oct. 25, his parents contacted authorities, who started an air and ground search.
He said he thought he was hallucinating when he heard the voices of rescuers.