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This week's Washington Rumor Mill.


Couric: People Keep Asking if Im Okay?

This week’s Washington Rumor Mill.

Walking wounded

“People keep coming up to me and asking, ‘Are you OK? Are you OK?’ “

Or so an amused Katie Couric told us at Saturday evening’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, referring to the myriad reports of late that she might be abandoning the anchor chair of “The CBS Evening News” later this year — well before her five-year contract expires — because of the newscast’s record-low viewer ratings.

Fox in henhouse

“Hookers and politicians — it’s a match made in heaven,” explains Dennis Hof, owner of the Bunny Ranch — the largest legally operated house of prostitution in the nation and now in its third season of being featured on HBO — as his reason for attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

Meanwhile, at John McLaughlin‘s annual rooftop brunch Sunday at the Hay Adams Hotel, Mr. Hof told us that during the dinner “I spotted several of my customers,” two of whom e-mailed him yesterday morning and “thanked me for not walking up to them to say hello.”

During the brunch, Mr. Hof presented the longtime host of “The McLaughlin Group,” a former Catholic priest need we recall, with a “VIP pass” to the Bunny Ranch.

Mr. McLaughlin, who was at the event with his wife, took the pass in good humor.

Two thumbs up

“Best entertainment in a long time,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said of Craig Ferguson, the Scottish-born host of CBS’ “The Late Late Show” and featured entertainer of Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

Arguably one of the comedian’s better lines came after he asked President Bush how he would pass the time once he leaves office. “You could look for a job with more vacation time,” he suggested, referring to Mr. Bush’s history of escaping Washington for extended periods of time.

Barr McCain

Former Republican congressman and rumored 2008 Libertarian Party candidate for president Bob Barr was seen huddling with pundits and leaders of various state-based center-right and libertarian think tanks and advocacy organizations at the Sheraton Atlanta on the eve of the Heritage Foundation’s annual Resource Bank Meeting.

“No Republican, conservative or whatever should underestimate how fond we are of this guy and appreciate what it is he has done and is hopefully about to do,” one well-known conservative attendee from Washington, who requests anonymity, told us.

“It’s an ‘in our hearts we know he’s right’ kind of thing. Very exciting — could be quite huge.”

The Heritage Foundation’s annual meeting was held this past weekend, gathering more than 500 think tank executives, public interest lawyers, policy experts and elected officials from around the world to discuss issues, strategies and methods for advancing free-market, limited-government public policies.

Sharing himself

Speaking of John McLaughlin, his 26-year association with NBC came to an end on Sunday, as both “The McLaughlin Group” and “John McLaughlin’s One on One” will now move to CBS while still airing on more than 300 PBS stations around the country.

“I’ve corrupted NBC for 25 years, it’s now time to corrupt another network,” the talkmeister told us at his rooftop brunch Sunday.

Armstrong and Al

Black broadcaster Armstrong Williams makes his debut at 9 p.m. this week on XM Satellite Radio’s Power 169, adding its first conservative talk show to the “all-black-liberal” lineup — as Mr. Williams refers to it.

“I was honored and ready to meet the challenge when approached by XM officials in March,” he told us, adding that his first week of shows will feature prominent Bush administration officials, members of Congress, celebrities and entertainers.

“Special envoy to the European Union Ambassador C. Boyden Gray; world renowed neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson; NAACP chair Julian Bond; former HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson; fellow talk-show host Rev. Al Sharpton … , Stedman Graham and many more,” was the guest list Mr. Williams rattled off.

Stop at the deli

Diplomats from terrorist-supporting nations would not be able to venture more than one-half mile beyond the United Nations complex in New York City under a bill to be introduced by a U.S. congressman.

“One-half mile is more than enough space for lodging, food and other necessities, but it will be easier and more cost-effective for the intelligence community to monitor suspected individuals when necessary,” explains Rep. Paul Broun, Georgia Republican.

The congressman says the United States is required under the 1947 United Nations Headquarters Act to allow diplomats into the country for official business, including foreigners who would otherwise be ineligible for U.S. visas.

“In keeping with our agreement, we are allowing large numbers of individuals from state sponsors of terrorism into our country, and to add insult to injury giving them diplomatic immunity,” he says, noting that between 2002 and 2007 the State Department issued more than 6,600 visas to delegates and representatives from such nations.

Mr. Broun points to Iran, where there are no U.S. diplomats stationed, yet Iranian diplomats posted in the U.S. “enjoy access and diplomatic immunity,” while in 2002, 2003 and 2004 “personnel from the Iranian Mission to the United Nations were caught photographing and videotaping the New York City subway and other popular landmarks.”

Those guilty Iranians, by the way, were consequently expelled. Now, the congressman says if such intelligence gatherers can’t be stopped from entering the United States, “the least we can do is limit their access.”

Hip-hop Barack

The message from Richard Prince‘s “Journal-isms” column published by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education is “some journalists got it; some did not.”

Or as the headline reads: “Obama’s Shoulder Gesture Goes Over Some Heads.”

Few are ducking anymore, it would appear. The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen is talking about Barack Obama brushing the dust off his shoulders in the fashion of a popular rap musician or two, as are ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, the New York TimesMaureen Dowd and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

“What’s he doing?” wondered the latter, while watching the Illinois senator dust himself off at the podium recently.

On, Mr. Prince notes, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a Princeton professor, was ecstatic. “Did you see it? Did you see Barack brush his shoulders off?” she wrote. “Like every other hip-hop generation voter in America I went crazy when he did it. I almost couldn’t believe it. It was a perfect moment.”

Forgotten hero?

Ratio of the total donations Barack Obama received from U.S. military personnel last year to those John McCain received: 10:9

— Harper’s Index, May 2008

Vote the rock

If Obama is offering false hope,

Miss “Experience” really can’t cope,

And it’s hard to explain

What we get with McCain,

Then I think I will vote for the pope.

— F.R. Duplantier

Sorry, Todd

Here’s a new one: the Federal Election Commission has issued a draft opinion denying homemaker Todd Goldup, an independent candidate in New York’s 20th Congressional District, the ability to use campaign funds to pay himself a congressman’s salary of $169,300 a year.

“Mr. Goldup is a homemaker with two minor children. Under FEC regulations, candidates who are not federal officeholders may receive salary payments from their campaigns under certain circumstances,” the FEC notes. “The draft AO [advisory opinion] states that Mr. Goldup may not pay himself a salary because he did not have earned income in the previous year.”

In certain cases, FEC regulations allow candidates to pay themselves as much as $169,300, or whatever they earned from employment the previous year, whichever amount is less.

The draft AO says the 30-year-old candidate and stay-at-home dad “may use campaign funds to pay for certain childcare and vehicle expenses associated with his campaign.”

Get serious, Al

Good grief, is anybody in Al Gore’s camp anymore?

Now it’s People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals saying that although he’s the face of the worldwide fight against global warming, the former vice president has resisted one “inconvenient truth”: the meat industry is the leading source of greenhouse-gas emissions, and Mr. Gore’s “a-steak-or-more-a-day habit isn’t helping.”

“Visitors to can undo some of the damage that Al Gore is doing to the environment every time he sits down to a steak,” says PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich. “Mr. Gore’s own addiction to meat is adding to the very crisis he’s devoting his life to stopping.”

PETA points to a recent United Nations report finding that raising animals for food generates about 40 percent more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, ships and planes in the world combined, while a meat-based diet causes eight times more greenhouse-gas emissions than a vegetarian diet.

Written By

John McCaslin pens the award-winning Inside the Beltway column for The Washington Times. His column has been syndicated by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and Tribune Media Services.

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