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It's soup

On the heels of all the stories last week about "Democrat fatigue" in Congress, the publishers of the popular book series "Chicken Soup for the Soul" announced their newest proposed title: "Chicken Soup for the Democrat's Soul."

"We are in immediate need of funny and inspirational stories," write Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. "The firm submission deadline is September 30, 2007. Publication is June 2008."

Among the eight proposed chapter titles: "Donkeys and Elephants in Love: Stories about dating, love, and marriage with someone in the other political party"; "Political Funnies and Faux Pas: Funny stories about politics that make you laugh out loud"; and our favorite, "On the Fence: What happens when you can't decide which side of the fence to dangle your feet? Stories about 'doing the right thing,' even when the right thing is something the 'other' party is promoting and yours isn't."

The publishers will not include essays or stories "that primarily 'bash' the Republican Party."

"We want to know how you as a Democrat have helped make the United States a better place to live, and humor certainly helps."

Stories must be nonfiction, written in first person, 1,000 words or less, and "make readers laugh, cry or sigh."

Meanwhile, we confirmed late yesterday that an additional book, "Chicken Soup for the Republican's Soul," will be published at the same time. Identical rules and deadlines apply.

Dick's back

Welcome former President Richard M. Nixon back into the federal fold.

On July 11, control of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in California will legally transfer from private foundation to the National Archives, and join the existing 11 presidential libraries within the federal system: Herbert Hoover through Bill Clinton.

Coinciding with the federal transfer, 78,000 pages of previously withheld materials will be made public, including 58,000 from the "Special Files" created by the Nixon White House to segregate the most sensitive information from the "Central Files." They include Mr. Nixon's personal files, his office files, and files of his closest aides: John Dean, H.R. Haldeman, Charles Colson and John Ehrlichman.

Other newly released materials will include the late president's correspondence with former President George Bush, the Rev. Billy Graham, and political consultant-turned-broadcaster RogerAiles.

Also look for the release of another 165 secretly tape-recorded conversations from November 1972, focusing on that year's presidential election and plans for the president's second term.

Wicked tactics

Congress is gearing up for the 2008 presidential elections by introducing the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, which seeks to "prevent voter suppression."

Committee on House Administration Chairman Rep. Robert A. Brady, the Pennsylvania Democrat who oversees jurisdiction on matters relating to federal elections, warns that "any attempt to prevent an eligible American from exercising this fundamental right" to vote would likely be met with "fines and/or imprisonment."

"During the last [2006] election cycle, just north of this House in Maryland, fliers were distributed in African-American communities which falsely stated that candidates had been endorsed by their opponent's party and by prominent African-American leaders," recalls Mr. Brady, who says "intimidating voters through nefarious tactics are direct threats to our democracy that must not be tolerated."

Actually, one week before Election Day in November, a coalition of black Democratic political leaders, led by former Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry, did call a press conference to endorse Republican Michael S. Steele for the U.S. Senate.

Pages to canvas

Who knew that Michael Clements, managing editor of Washington Life magazine, is a talented artist to boot?

His solo exhibit, "ART in DEPENDence," opens with a food-and-wine reception tonight and runs through Aug. 4 at Piola on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington.

"I'll be showing 38 pieces ranging from my time in Washington — both now and in graduate school way back in the day — Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Japan," Mr. Clements says.

Lucky 7s

Ever since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, America's brides and grooms have carefully chosen their wedding dates.

This year, one date tops them all: July 7, 2007, or 7-7-7. And that presents a problem for Washington-area couples getting hitched this Saturday.

Couples "are contending with hotels booked with tourists ... and have to compete with the Fourth of July," explains Jenny Nemiroff, president of Washington wedding planning company A Touch of Sass. "Add that to an unusually hot and humid July and you have the recipe for stressed-out brides and stretched-out budgets."

Many Washington hotels are offering special 7-7-7 wedding packages. All told, nearly 40,000 couples nationwide are expected to tie the knot Saturday, four times as many as were married on the same weekend last year.

John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes .com.

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