Has Michele Bachmann heard?

Perhaps the congresswoman at last let some pearls of wisdom slip when she employed this metaphor on July 23:

" 'It's almost like you have a kitchen full of little children that are hungry and want to eat,' " said the Minnesota Republican, a mother of five and past foster mother of 23. 'The pantry has a lock on the door, but the pantry is filled with food.' "

The following is excerpted from a Star Tribune editorial on Feb. 7:

"Ever-widening waistlines have been even harder on the health of children. Three decades ago, 5 to 7 percent of kids were obese; by 2003 that percentage had grown to 17 to 19 percent. And pediatricians see much higher incidence of diseases like Type II diabetes -- a condition that used to be rare among kids."

So the extended metaphor would be that the ANWR pantry should be opened to the overstuffed and overfed gasoline-consuming public so they can continue to feed their addiction.

BRUCE CRAWFORD, ORONO

Simple campaign would be lifesaving and Earth-saving

One of the most effective, immediate and win-win ways to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gases is by cutting traffic speed to 55 miles an hour. This was done during World War II and again during the energy shortage of the mid-1970s. It is a measure of the changes in our country that even in the face of $4-a-gallon gas and global warming, Congress cannot summon the will to consider, let alone enforce, a national speed limit.

I suggest that we do it ourselves. Are there not environmental organizations, churches, local government, and citizen groups willing to publicize a campaign to go no faster on the highways than 55 mph? It would take only printing bumper stickers and encouraging everyone to slow down. It would help to save lives, save money, save oil and save the Earth.

RHODA R. GILMAN, ST. PAUL

Vacationing voters?

There's a perfectly logical explanation for the recently announced Quinnipiac University poll results that showed an apparent shift toward greater support for John McCain in our state ("McCain pulls even with Obama in Minnesota," July 25).

The July 14-22 poll is being compared against one taken in June, before many Minnesotans began attending summer outings and taking vacations that put them safely out of reach of pollsters.

I'm guessing that a significantly higher percentage of forward-thinking Minnesotans are away from home at this time of year, compared to the Fox "News" addicted, head-in-the-sand element that's likely to support McCain.

JOHN R. PORTER, MINNEAPOLIS

Media's seeming role in veepstakes

I'm a firm DFLer, but I want to comment on the unfairness of the Steve Sack's July 25 editorial cartoon depicting Minnesota's governor waiting overeagerly for a call from John McCain.

I don't see any actual evidence that Tim Pawlenty has shown more than normal human interest in the VP job. On the record, he has consistently feigned disinterest, which is the proper thing for him to do. So this cartoon is basically criticizing Pawlenty for an attitude entirely projected upon him by the media in the first place.

HOWARD KRANZ, MINNEAPOLIS

Bush and the criminal court

In regard to the July 23 editorial on war crimes and the capture of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, it should be remembered that the United States is not one of the 106-member countries of the International Criminal Court. President Bush "unsigned" President Clinton's signature of support.

PAT RYAN GREENE, CHAMPLIN

Franken showing he knows what Minnesotans care about

Many thanks to Patricia Lopez for her careful and well-written article on Al Franken's campaign (Star Tribune, July 21.) Franken's "kitchen table" tax relief proposals that Lopez describes in her article are thoughtful, workable and welcome.

Americans need a solid basis for retirement now that pensions are not an option. My husband and I together have worked for almost 90 years for about nine different employers; we have one pension plan, worth about $10,000 per year. The 401(U) plans that Al proposes would be an important step in the direction of more secure retirement savings.

My children are both adults now, but how we could have used Al's proposals for family-friendly employment policies. I can remember driving in a nervous sweat, breaking speed laws because I had to get to my children when I was working for an employer whose outdated but still available policy manual included a rule that pregnant employees must be fired.

My husband is now the primary support for his 94-year-old mother who is in a nursing home suffering from dementia. Al's proposal for help for caregivers sounds wonderful to us.

Al is a good and thoughtful man; he'll be a great senator for Minnesota.

ROSEMARY SCHWEDES, EDINA