Before testifying before the Senate Budget Committee last Wednesday, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan was asked by reporters if he had a "hot scoop."

Departing from his custom of ignoring press questions, Mr. Greenspan stunned the crowd by responding-though his answer had nothing to do with lower interest rates or global economic crises. "I am seriously depressed Sammy Sosa has said he is out of the home run race," Mr. Greenspan said, referring to the Chicago Cubs slugger, who on Tuesday declared he could not catch St. Louis Cardinal Mark McGwire.

Perhaps it was in tribute to the Fed chairman that Mr. Sosa, who took the field in Milwaukee as Mr. Greenspan began testifying, hit two home runs, tying Mr. McGwire at 65 and reigniting the race.

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At a fund-raising luncheon for Rep. Charles E. Schumer, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton branded his opponent in the New York Senate race a "Jesse Helms clone."

"I think it's fair to say that Chuck's opponent has voted in a way that puts him in the same category as those in the Senate who are consistently voting to keep women down and back," said Ms. Clinton, who never identified Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato by name.

The First Lady criticized the New York Republican for opposing gun control, abortion rights, and a 1994 crime bill measure on violence against women.

"His voting record on choice is the same as Jesse Helms'," she said, referring to the ultra-conservative North Carolina Republican senator. The two states are very different, and "the people of New York need to know that they do not need a Jesse Helms clone," she said.

The D'Amato campaign quickly blasted the Schumer camp for going "completely negative" and distorting the senator's record. Included were supportive statements from women such as former Rep. Susan Molinari, who praised Sen. D'Amato for trying to help breast cancer patients and protect divorced people from their former spouses' tax liabilities.

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Conference agendas often list speakers as "confirmed," but as the National Association of Federal Credit Unions learned last week, the word has little meaning when applied to lawmakers. Both House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Vermont Independent Rep. Bernard Sanders were no-shows at the trade group's annual congressional caucus. Rep. Gingrich was ruminating over the House's approach to the Starr report, and Rep. Sanders was celebrating a government grant to build an environmentally sustainable industrial park in Burlington. "We got knocked out by a million-dollar grant and Monica Lewinsky," quipped NAFCU spokeswoman Rosemary George.

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