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Inside the Beltway

Going mobile

Let's bring you up to date on the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) ongoing battle with a Midwest billboard company that has refused to erect a pair of DNC ads in the district of a Republican lawmaker who criticized a Democrat for speaking out against the war in Iraq.

The stalemate started after Rep. Jean Schmidt, Ohio Republican, became critical of Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, for attacking U.S. policy in Iraq. The DNC came to the latter's defense by signing a contract to erect billboards critical of Mrs. Schmidt, albeit the billboard company later killed the ads, deeming them too negative.

"The DNC will never allow a corporation to determine the content of our ads," DNC Executive Director Tom McMahon said in his latest missive to Inside the Beltway. So, during the next week, the DNC will purchase full-page ads in local Ohio and West Virginia newspapers, and then hit the streets with "a mobile billboard."

"This should be a warning to Republicans that shameless attacks will not be tolerated," he said.

Lucy, I'm home!

Who's the interviewer and who's the guest when TV host Brian Lamb and radio host Laura Ingraham sit down to discuss world — and personal — affairs?

For the answer, tune into C-SPAN's "Q&A" at 8 p.m. this Sunday, albeit C-SPAN's Jennifer Moire is allowing Inside the Beltway readers an exclusive peek of the interview that touches on Miss Ingraham's fight with cancer, the former fiance who ditched her in the middle of her battle, even C-SPAN's "tacky" studio furniture.

Miss Ingraham had breast cancer surgery on April 23, and at first didn't want to be "identified as a cancer person, but I've got to tell you, I'm glad I asked for prayers."

"You told them about your fiance," Mr. Lamb said.

"I did, yes," Miss Ingraham said of her listeners, albeit she abruptly changes the subject. "I was engaged a couple of weeks earlier and then was unengaged a couple of weeks into the cancer. ... By the way, I'm calling 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.' They're coming in and doing this set over. ... I mean, I know this is not-for-profit, but you can do something about the set."

"You don't like our set?" Mr. Lamb asks.

"No. There's — did you get this at Marlo Furniture?" she asks.

"What's wrong with Marlo Furniture?" Mr. Lamb interjects.

"Nothing. But I — nothing. I stand corrected," Miss Ingraham says.

For readers outside the Beltway, Marlo Furniture is a family-owned business, started by Lou and Marilyn Marlo in 1955. It's grown from one store to four huge showrooms situated around Washington's Beltway. Today, it's the area's number one furniture retailer, with more than 1 million Washington-area families purchasing their furniture from the store. Excluding Miss Ingraham, of course.

As Ricky Ricardo might say, Laura, "you've got some 'splainin' to do."

Leave it alone

Now its Muslims in America coming to the defense of Christians who want to call a Christmas tree by its name.

We turn to Cincinnati Enquirer and a newspaper editorial that calls the current debate about renaming Christmas trees "foolish."

"It is political correctness run amok, and it is unfortunate that the rhetoric over whether to change references of 'Christmas' to 'holiday' is even being considered," the newspaper's editors write. Actually, it's beyond consideration.

In Boston, a Christian group has threatened to sue after city fathers renamed their Christmas tree a "holiday" tree. Here on Capitol Hill, at least, smarter heads prevailed and changed the "Capitol Holiday Tree" back to the "Capitol Christmas Tree."

But our favorite quote is compliments of Karen Dabdoub, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington. She tells the Enquirer: "Who are we fooling? The Jews don't put up a tree for Hanukkah; the Muslims don't put up a tree for Ramadan. It doesn't take away from my celebration of my holiday for other people to celebrate their holiday."

In your face

'I'm on a 'Merry Christmas' mission and I'm in full throttle. My little yellow VW Beetle has turned into a Christmas billboard with Merry Christmas written across the back window. Yes, I've decided to trek off to work everyday on the public highways with a message that seems to offend people."

Debbie Daniel

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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