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Aside from their celebrity, what do performers Ben Affleck, Rachael Ray, Ben Stiller, John Legend, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Barbra Streisand, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Nicole Richie and Avril Lavigne have in common? Each employs a “philanthropy consultant” to ensure that the causes they support are strategic in more ways than one, says Los Angeles Times writer Harriet Ryan.

She is tracking the phenomenon and the proclivities of the rich, famous and earnest to attend things like former President Clinton’s recent Global Initiative - which drew the likes of Jim Carrey, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julia Ormond, Kevin Spacey and high-profile journalists as well. We’re talking Katie Couric and Thomas Friedman here.

“What advisers do for their famous clients runs the gamut from preparing a charity’s tax forms to arranging meetings with members of Congress. They write speeches, update websites, and suggest which benefit galas to attend and which to skip,” Ms. Ryan explains.

“There’s red-carpet philanthropy, and then there’s real philanthropy. Ninety percent of what happens in philanthropy in the entertainment industry doesn’t have an enormous impact,” says Trevor Neilson, founder of the Global Philanthropy Group, which advises a dozen silver-screen biggies on where to tuck their donation dollars.

BUMPER PATROL

“Federal government: The NEW organized crime.”

Bumper sticker from Inside the Beltway reader Fred Cohrs, who displays it on his own car - along with 16 other mottos - on a “rotating basis,” he explains.

POLL DU JOUR

- 65 percent of Americans described themselves as “hopeful” after the midterm elections.

- 58 percent of Americans are “not confident” that President Obama and Republicans in Congress can work together.

- 53 percent of Americans are confident that Republicans in Congress will be successful effecting changes to improve the economy.

- 53 percent say Congress should “continue tax cuts for everyone.”

- 47 percent oppose health care reform passed in Congress in March.

- 31 percent want to completely repeal the legislation; 20 percent would leave it “as is.”

Source: An Associated Press-GFK Poll of 1,000 adults conducted Nov. 3-8.

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