Capitol Hill Puts the 'French' Back in Its Fries
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
It's doubtful that it will have any effect on the serious diplomacy going on right now, but on Capitol Hill, one disagreement between the U.S. and France has been resolved.
Here's NPR's Brian Naylor.
BRIAN NAYLOR reporting:
At the coffee shop in the basement of the Capitol Building, the menu board above the counter signals a new era in the House of Representatives' relations with a key ally. The board reads French toast and fries. This is a sea change. No one will say exactly when the switch occurred, but until the last week or so, the coffee shop, like other restaurants and cafeterias run by the House, sold only freedom fries and freedom toast. The single syllable F-word connoting a certain continental nation was banned by the House in March of 2003, part of a frenzied fit against all things French after that country criticized U.S. plans to invade Iraq.
At the time, Ohio Republican Bob Nay chaired the House Administration Committee, which oversees the restaurants. He said renaming French fries freedom fries was "a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France."
Since then Mr. Nay has stepped aside as chairman because his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff were being probed by the FBI. Another big backer of freedom fries in 2003 was Republican Walter Jones of North Carolina, who's since become a major critic of the war in Iraq.
Today no one associated with the restaurants wanted to talk about the names. Meanwhile, the spokeswoman for the French embassy in Washington told a reporter that U.S. French relations are back on track.
Brian Naylor, NPR News, The Capitol.
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