- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 30, 2010

BUY GEORGE

For those with BP fatigue or a case of contemporary melancholy, we bring spirited news.

For the first time since George Washington’s personal distillery burned down in 1814, the public can buy his very own rye whiskey, bottled at a reconstructed site near Mount Vernon. The “extremely limited edition” whiskey uses the General’s own recipe, discovered by historians in the mansion’s deep records. By the way, Washington produced 11,000 gallons of the spirit back in the day, and the distillery is the “gateway of the American Whiskey Trail.” Wait. Who knew? The 375 ml bottles are $85; proceeds benefit Mount Vernon’s education programs (www.mountvernon .org).

“One could either sip it or make it into an authentic pre-Prohibition Manhattan or Old Fashioned,” an informed source tells Inside the Beltway, adding that Virginia state Sen. Linda Puller;Peter Cressy, president of the Distilled Spirits Council; Jim Rees, president of Historic Mount Vernon, and snappy Washington re-enactor Dean Malissa will be on hand for the inaugural tasting.

CURTAIN CALL

Behold the sideshows inspired by Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings, now in finale stage. The most daring of the pundit wags have declared that Ms. Kagan reminds them of either Rosie O’Donnell or Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Meanwhile, Sen. Al Franken was doodling during the proceedings; the Minnesota Democrat’s sketch of Sen. Jeff Sessions in No. 2 pencil on white paper ain’t half bad, in fact. The Alabama Republican’s spectacles are shown precisely at the right angle, and midway down his nose.

There has not been a vuvuzela problem. Vampires were another matter.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, another Minnesota Democrat, asked Ms. Kagan to weigh in on the ongoing “Twilight Saga” debate, rating vampires over wolfmen; she declined to answer. Maybe the question should have been framed as Bela Lugosi vs. Lon Chaney Jr.? Among press descriptors of the hearings: “artful dodge,” “typical non-answers,” “charm offensive,” “cruising.” Of note: The Washington Times’ online reader poll finds that 87 percent of the respondents are not impressed by Ms. Kagan’s demeanor during the hearings. They are not alone.

“What have you been doing during Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings? If you are like most of America, you have been dutifully ignoring them,” observes Gawker.com’s Max Read.

HEAPING SPOONFUL

The White House “pool report” - this detail observed by Politico’s Kendra Marr - reveals that President Obama insisted on paying for his own giant “Kringle” pastry during his visit to a Danish bakery in Wisconsin on Wednesday. Mr. Obama paid cash. On the spot. A good habit, Mr. President. Some Republicans, however, are not happy with other sweetening that took place, however.

“The White Houses ‘Recovery Summer’ sales pitch is completely out of touch with reality,” says Rep. Tom Price of Georgia. “With millions struggling to find work and make ends meet, this is no time for a victory lap. I hope the president and his Democrat colleagues will finally stop sugarcoating the facts and level with the American people.”

COLLATERAL DAMAGE

Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas was upfront about publishing faulty poll numbers at his website over the last 18 months. What about everybody else?

“Will those figures in the media who’ve advanced Daily Kos poll results, like MSNBC’s ‘Hardball’ host Chris Matthews, let their viewers know of the suspect data?” asks Geoffrey Dickens, an analyst at Newsbusters.com.

“Back on the February 2, 2010, edition of ‘Hardball,’ Matthews as part of his ‘Sideshow’ segment, alerted viewers to the results of ‘a wild new poll of Republicans’ that showed 58 percent of them didn’t believe or weren’t sure that Barack Obama was born in the U.S. and 64 percent of GOPers agreed or weren’t sure that the president was a ‘racist who hates white people.’ ” Mr. Dickens notes.

Retractions, anyone?

W AND CONDI

Together again, huzzah. Southeastern University announced Wednesday that former President George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state from 2005 to 2009, will top the list of distinguished speakers at the school’s fifth annual National Leadership Forum. But don’t panic. The event is not until March. The distinguished pair will address “Teamwork at the Highest Level,” while the campus showcases “servant leadership” - the idea that the best leaders are those who seek first to serve and then to lead.

“Our country is in desperate need of leaders who emphasize integrity, collaboration and trust,” says chancellor Tommy Barnett, who notes that evangelist Franklin Graham and Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner are also among the speakers.

THAT’S THE TICKET

The Charles County Republican Central Committee hosts its annual fund-raising dinner on Thursday, with special guest former Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who hopes to rerun to office, and return the state to “fiscal sanity.” Mr. Ehrlich also will introduce his selection for lieutenant governor. Stay tuned. The Republicans are ready to rumble in the Old Line State.

POLL DU JOUR

c 82 percent of Americans say it’s important to cut the deficit in half by 2013.

c 71 percent say it’s “not likely” that will happen.

c 67 percent of Democrats favor a mix of spending cuts and tax increases to lower the deficit.

c 54 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of independents favor spending cuts alone.

c 50 percent overall favor spending cuts and tax increases.

c 39 percent favor only spending cuts.

c 2 percent favor only tax increases.

c Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults conducted June 28 and 29.

c Hurrahs and hand- wringing to jharper@ washingtontimes.com.