'National Treasure' Movie Boosts Attendance At The National Archives

The National Archives boss, Allen Weinstein, faced an interesting question Tuesday when he was pleading for his $327 million budget before a House subcommittee. Rep. Jo Bonner, an Alabama Republican, asked if the historical adventure movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets has boosted attendance at the archives, home to historical documents like the Constitution. "Can we prove it? No," said Weinstein. "Have we seen it, yes. We've seen it in spades... National Treasure was an enormous help." Bonner conceded that he and his son and daughter recently toured the archives after the kids saw the movie back home in Mobile. "It was the first place they wanted to go."

The aside occurred during the budget hearing hosted by the Appropriations Committee's Financial Services subcommittee and Chairman Jose Serrano. He got the off-budget talk rolling when he mentioned that he was shocked over the weekend to see the lines outside the National Archives longer than he experienced on opening night of the new Washington Nationals stadium. It wasn't a surprise that Serrano weaved a baseball analogy into the budget hearing since he's a huge baseball fan whose district includes Yankee Stadium. In fact, he opened by praising President Bush's pitch to open the game and giving a little history of presidential first pitches. It used to be, he noted, that presidents stood in the stands when they tossed the opening pitch to a player. Then, around the time of FDR, the president tossed it to the whole home team, creating a bit of pandemonium as each player tried to be the one to catch the ball, wedding-bouquet style. "It was a great way to get a lot of [Washington] Senators killed," he joked. And, of course, presidents now go to the mound to toss the ball like Bush, "as he did so well over home plate," said Serrano.

By Paul Bedard