France Doesn't Take Returns

HASTERT SUGGESTS RETURNING LOUISIANA PURCHASE TO FRANCE

Angry Chirac States France's No-returns Policy

Offering his most controversial comments to date about the future of New
Orleans, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said today that the United States
should "at least explore the possibility" of returning the Louisiana
Purchase in its entirety to France.

Rep. Hastert said that the United States would be "totally justified" in
demanding that France take the Louisiana Purchase back because, in his
view, "It's becoming obvious that when we bought the Louisiana Purchase
the French were selling us a bill of goods."

Explaining his remarks, the Speaker said that when the Emperor Napoleon
I sold the United States the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 he did not offer
full disclosure of the property's vulnerability to storm damage and that
this omission makes the sale null and void.

But at a press conference in Paris, French President Jacques Chirac gave
Rep. Hastert's proposal a chilly reception, saying that France had "a
strict no-returns policy" and that he intended to adhere to it.

"To Monsieur Hastert, let me say this," said a visibly angry President
Chirac, pounding on the podium with his fist. "You break it - how you
say - you bought it."

But according to Professor Harland Linsdale of the University of
Minnesota's School of International Law, if France eventually agreed to
take back the Louisiana Purchase, it is unlikely that the U.S. could
demand more than the 1803 purchase price of $15 million.

"In Louisiana, $15 million won't even buy you one elected official,"
Professor Linsdale said.

Elsewhere, reconstruction efforts in New Orleans suffered a setback
today when Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally leaned against a
levee and breached it.

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