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CONGRESS WORKS AROUND THE CLOCK FOR A REALLY BAD IDEA.

Byline: Stephanie Becker Local View

They're killing time up on Capitol Hill.

Congress has a bright idea that's going to leave lots of us in the dark. As part of the new energy bill, lawmakers plan to extend daylight-saving time for an extra month. So, we'll be springing ahead in the dead of winter and falling back sometime after Halloween.

For those of us who have to wake up before the crack of dawn, it means there's going to be a lot more darkness before the dawn. Maybe people with sunny dispositions find this is good news, but as one of millions who live in a fog in the morning, I'm sounding the alarm.

Proponents say tinkering with the time will clock in enormous energy savings because of extra sunlight at the end of the day. And the big ``Soccer Mom'' selling point? The time change means a brighter, safer Halloween.

What zone are they in? No self-respecting Darth Vader or Princess Jasmine or ghost-ballerina-clown-cat wants to launch a door-to-door candy blitz before dark. The witching hour will start so late that when the spoils-of-war sugar-shock finally subsides, it'll be Easter.

All those in favor of getting Congress to put those frenzied kids to sleep, say aye.

The concept of saved daylight started during World War I. Germany appears to be the first to institute it. Then the Allies caved in on time, but cleaned Germany's clock when it counted.

The last time our government extended daylight-saving time was during the gas crisis in 1974. We saved a minute 1 percent of electricity each day. Trust me, Nixon's downfall wasn't about Watergate, but an angry populace with a massive case of biorhythm blues because everyone was going to work in the dark. Remember this was a pre-Starbucks world.

Conspiracy theorists take note: This time it's all about the coffee-barista-industrial complex. No doubt the next Starbucks CD is a compilation of the world's most annoying alarm noises. I can't decide which I hate more, the Fran Drescher laugh or the Tom Cruise clucking about his new love.

No one's yet figured out how much electricity and money the switch will save. However, supporters promise a priceless dividend - time for more post-work outdoor recreation.

Sorry, I have just enough personal energy to slog my way home. Now I'm supposed to participate in a sporting activity? Is it unpatriotic to just plop down with my microwaved Salisbury steak to catch the 456th repeat of the 278th episode of ``Law & Order''?

I'm joined in my whining by the dairy farmers. They're afraid of freaking out the cows during morning milkings in the dark. I guess they'll be starting the Mooove On lobby. And airlines fear it will wreak havoc with their schedules. I'm sorry, what schedules?

I'm sure the sponsors of the energy bill didn't expect this kind of heat. However, if they're really serious about cutting energy use, I say think big. Don't stop at an hour, or even a day. Lop off a couple of cold winter weeks. I say, why not pull the plug on February.

Now there's a timely idea.
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Title Annotation:Viewpoint
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 7, 2005
Words:520
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