It was something out of a Saturday Night Live comedy skit, only it wasn't funny. The White House says that President Bush choked on a pretzel over the weekend and passed out, fainting dead away while watching a televised football game. The White House physician called the incident a fluke that likely would never happen again. Dr. Richard Tubb noted that Bush suffered a bruised lower lip and an abrasion "about the size of a half dollar on his left cheek." The president got a clean bill of health during his last physical. Because Bush is in such good shape his resting heart rate is about half of that for a 55-year-old who does not work out. Ironically, it was the lower heart rate that made him more susceptible to fainting when deprived of oxygen momentarily. An expert on fainting tells the Christian Science Monitor that it's not uncommon to faint when food does "go down the wrong pipe."
WENDY'S STORES PAY TRIBUTE TO THOMAS
This past weekend I went into a Wendy's franchise in Las Vegas and was moved by what I saw. There, across the large photo of the late Wendy's founder Dave Thomas holding a tray of food (in his younger, plumper, healthier days), was a hand-made sign that read in gold letters: "In Loving Memory." At first I thought it might be something the corporate office suggested. The manager said, "No, we just thought he might like it." I called a friend in Los Angeles. Would he look around? Same there. One store had flowers in front of the founder's photo. Another had the date of his birth and death and a tribute sign. Same thing for a store I checked in upstate New York. Another, in Vancouver, Wash., mentioned that he was not just the founder but the heart and soul of the chain he created. Nice to know he was really like that in person. So many people have a "TV and media" side and a personal side that is often just the opposite. With Dave Thomas it would appear that what you saw was what you got. It's refreshing to see the rank-and-file of a big company thinking of the CEO as a friend. That doesn't happen too often any more.
BIG-RIG TRUCKER A HERO ON INTERSTATE 5
A lot of motorists who were on Interstate 5 in Portland, Ore., Friday think that trucker David Dean Lucas is a pretty great guy. Lucas was driving a tanker truck carrying more than 12,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel when his rig started stalling. He thought he could make it to the nearest exit ramp. He couldn't. He got out of the cab when he smelled smoke. Suddenly the cab burst into flames. Lucas, having hauled gasoline for years, realized the potential for disaster. Twelve thousand gallons of highly volatile fuels just behind a burning cab with hundreds of other vehicles whizzing by, just feet away. At the risk of his own life, Lucas flagged down traffic, called for help and kept others out of harm's way. Fire companies and emergency equipment responded, winding their way through what quickly became a parking lot of cars. Finally, they pulled back when they feared the truck was about to blow. And blow it did, with local TV stations catching the fireball on tape. The local newspaper, the Oregonian, published several incredible color shots of the explosion. Luckily no one was hurt, partially because of the driver's quick action. Police say that Lucas will not be charged, but his trucking company may have to pay for the cleanup. The Interstate was closed for four hours; some of the pavement may take months to repair. By the way, Portland-area citizens are wondering what will happen next on the busy highway. Friday's incident was just the latest in a string of jam-causing big-rig accidents in recent weeks.
WAYLON JENNINGS RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL
Country music icon Waylon Jennings has finally been released from a Phoenix, Ariz., hospital after surgery to remove one of his feet. The amputation of his left foot became necessary when blood flow could not be restored after complications from diabetes. The surgery took place on Dec. 19. Fitted with a prosthesis, Jennings has been doing some walking at his Phoenix-area estate and is regaining his strength. His publicist says that his client plans to resume touring as soon as possible. Resumption of his busy schedule could come as early as March or April. You may remember that Jennings quipped a couple of days ago that it was funny that he had been hobbling around on two feet for years and now, with only one and a prosthesis, he's walking better than ever.
TV 'TRASH TALKERS' GETTING LESS TRASHY
A new survey of the words used on television in this country shows that during the past decade there actually has been a decrease in the frequency of vulgar talk on the tube. A research team, led by two professors of journalism and media -- one from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, the other from Florida State University -- tells the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media that after watching some 250 prime-time programs aired in 2001, it found an offensive word on the average of about every 13 minutes. That's down from one every 11 minutes heard during the 1990 season. The team watched the four major broadcast networks. It's needless to say that had it watched cable, it would have lost count. Ironically, the researchers note that during some years monitored the majority of "bad" words was heard early in prime time when it was more likely that kids were listening. In their research, the pair used the so-called "seven dirty words" on the FCC's hit list: (Expletives deleted).
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 246
Today, you get to play reporter and follow up on the Dave Thomas story. During the next couple of days if you happen to pass by a Wendy's and decide to stop, see if you see any tributes to the late Dave Thomas and report back to me. Remember, I'm not suggesting you eat at Wendy's just for the survey. Burger King and McDonald's would sue me and the boss would send me a memo. But, if you are headed that way, do some checking. Put TRIBUTE in the subject line and send to email@example.com via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 241 (GOLDEN)
Last week we asked if you had any interest in listening to recordings of the so-called Golden Days of radio? Here are some of your replies: First of all, I was amazed at the number of people who say they never listen to radio, except for special news and weather reports. But, after doing some thinking, I realized that when I was glued to the AM radio during my childhood it was because they let DJs actually talk and be funny and witty back then. Now radio is either all-talk and full of confrontation and posturing, or it's all music with an announcer interrupting after every song to remind you that the station never interrupts. Carla is among those who have become hooked on the YesterdayUSA network on the Internet and some low-power stations. Carla, if you listen a lot you have likely heard me without knowing it. Did you hear the recent hour-long interview with Fred Foy, the announcer for "The Lone Ranger?" That was one of my contributions to the network. FosterBaby is another fan of Old Time Radio (or as we aficionados call it "OTR") and tapes a new show every night. Foster, do you know about YesterdayUSA? It's available on the Web at yesterdayusa.net. Additionally, the CBS all-news station in L.A. runs an hour a night and it's available (on request, at any time) at knx1070.com on the Internet. Another set of OTR fans is Karen and her husband. Even though they are only in their 40s they love it. GBA.