Broadcast: November 26, 2004
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
This is Doug Johnson. On our show this week:
Country music from Kenny Chesney …
A question from China about who has more power in America, the president or Congress ...
And a look at America's newest presidential library.
Clinton Library Opens
Last Friday, November nineteenth, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center opened to the public in the southern city of Little Rock, Arkansas. It is the twelfth presidential library in the United States. Shep O’Neal tells us about it.
Government officials have described the Clinton Presidential Center as a kind of “bridge to the twenty-first century.” They say it much different from the other eleven presidential libraries.
It includes a large museum area. The museum shows more than eighty million objects that aim to tell the story of the Bill Clinton presidency. Hillary Rodham Clinton has said that the library will tell the true story of her husband’s time in Washington. This includes his involvement with White House assistant Monica Lewinsky and his impeachment.
One room shows public events that took place each year that Bill Clinton was president. These include his peace efforts in Northern Ireland and the Middle East. Also on display in the museum is an electronic copy of the president’s book of daily appointments. Visitors can touch a screen and see his official duties that day.
The museum also includes the only full-size copy of the Oval Office in a presidential library. Reports say Clinton administration officials took thousands of pictures of the president’s office in the White House so they could re-create the room.
Other, more personal presidential property is also displayed. For example, visitors can see Mister Clinton’s collection of objects that belonged to singer Elvis Presley. Letters the president received from famous people. And an area honoring the Clintons’ pet cat and dog that lived with them in the White House.
Along with the library and museum, the center includes an eleven hectare park and a bridge across the Arkansas River. It will also include a University of Arkansas graduate school that will train students in public service.
The Clinton Center was built with one hundred sixty-five million dollars in private money. Officials expect more than three hundred thousand visitors a year. And the city of Little Rock expects the Clinton Center to increase its popularity as a place people want to go for a holiday.
Separation of Powers
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Guangzhou, China. Huang Shixiang asks who is more powerful in the United States government -- the president or the Congress?
Early American leaders designed the government so that no one part would become too powerful. The federal government is organized into three branches. Most government offices are in the executive branch. This branch is led by the president.
The legislative branch is Congress, made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. And the judicial branch is the federal court system, under the Supreme Court.
This way of government is known as the system of checks and balances, or the separation of powers. Under this system, each branch of government is restricted by the others. For example, both houses of Congress must approve a bill before it can become law. And the Supreme Court has the power to declare laws unconstitutional.
Bills are signed into law by the president. But the president may veto a bill. The rejected measure then goes back to Congress. Congress can let the veto stand. Or it can vote to make the bill into law without presidential approval. To do so, two-thirds of the members of both houses must agree.
The Constitution gives the president the power to sign treaties. But treaties must be approved by the Senate. In nineteen nineteen, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Treaty of Versailles to end World War One.
That treaty also included a proposal to establish a League of Nations where countries could meet and discuss problems. But Americans feared they would become involved in another war. The Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles.
The League of Nations was established anyway without American involvement -- and without much success. After World War Two, the United Nations took its place.
If there were a president of country music, it might very well be singer Kenny Chesney. Earlier this month, he won two awards from the Country Music Association -- Entertainer of the Year and Album of the Year. Then, the American Music Association named him Artist of the Year. Faith Lapidus tells us about him.
Kenny Chesney is thirty-six years old. He grew up in the southern state of Tennessee, and has been recording country music since nineteen ninety-one. His first successful single record was a song he wrote and recorded in nineteen ninety-four, “The Tin Man.”
Fans have been buying his albums ever since. Two years ago, he recorded a popular album called “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems.” One of the most popular songs on that album was this one, “Young.”
Kenny Chesney’s awards are the result of his latest album, “When the Sun Goes Down.” Critics say the album is a celebration of living life, seeking love and not being afraid to dream. We leave you now with the title song from “When The Sun Goes Down” that Kenny Chesney performs with Uncle Kracker.
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC.
Our program was written by Nancy Steinbach. Paul Thompson was the producer. And our engineer was Efeem Drucker.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.