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Mike Oxley, comic statesman

Never let anyone say that the chairman of the House Banking and Financial Services Committee-Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Ohio)has no sense of humor.

Oxley sent a letter this week to National Public Radio "applauding" the service after reading a story in the Washington Post on how NPR plans to lease the exterior of its headquarters for a billboard ad. "This is just the kind of innovative thinking that has kept NPR on the cutting edge of noncommercial broadcasting," wrote Oxley, just last year the very active vice chairman of the House Commerce Committee.

But anyone who follows public broadcasting's tumultous relationship with House Republicans knows Oxley is unlikely to support anything public broadcasting does, unless what it is doing is rejecting public funding. In fact, he makes that point clear in the letter. "When you receive your first check from the agency, just send me a little note including the amount. I'll forward it to our friends on the Appropriations Committee, and they can deduct that from your annual handout - I mean, subsidy - I mean, appropriation. Everybody wins!" - Paige Albiniak