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Inside the Beltway

BUSHTOPIA

Former President George W. Bush is marquee-ready this week. His 512-page memoir "Decision Points" is in bookstores Monday, unsullied by the torrent of leaks and speculation from journalists who predictably dwelled on Mr. Bush's frat-boy mythology or "inner turmoil" rather than his productive leadership under dire circumstances. But no matter. He gets to tell his own story now. Mr. Bush appears with NBC's Matt Lauer at 8 p.m. Monday, and on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" on Tuesday - which includes an appearance by former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush.

He also has granted an interview to CNN's Candy Crowley, accompanied by his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Former first lady Laura Bush accompanies her husband on CBS' "Sunday Morning" with host Jim Axelrod. Mr. Bush also joins "Tonight" show host Jay Leno, Fox News Channel hosts Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Greta Van Susteren.

There are radio interviews with Rush Limbaugh and Mr. Hannity, and Mr. Bush, 64, is the new cover story for AARP's national magazine. He'll make multiple personal appearances, including a showcase at the Miami International Book Fair. Oh yes. Mr. Bush's book is already No. 1 on Amazon, and he'll break ground on his presidential library in Dallas in eight days.

DOWN TO BUSINESS

The Republican race to live up to campaign promises is on. Balanced Budget Now, a grass-roots effort chaired by fiscal conservative maven Ken Blackwell, launches Monday to lay groundwork for a balanced-budget amendment in Congress by October. The group will track the sentiments of lawmakers and gather signatures or old fashioned postcards of support from up to 10,000 constituents in every congressional district. See their plan at www.BalancedBudgetAmendmentNow.com.

Sen.-elect Mike Lee, Utah Republican, has already drafted the language for the dream amendment, which includes such promising phrases as "revenues collected by the Congress during any fiscal year shall not exceed 25 percent of the gross domestic product during the previous fiscal year" and "total outlays appropriated by the Congress for any fiscal year shall not exceed total receipts for that fiscal year."

Mr. Lee tells Inside the Beltway: "The time has come for Congress to do the right thing and pass a balanced-budget amendment. The majority of states in this country balance their budgets every year. Requiring Congress to do the same simply requires self-restraint, fiscal discipline, forethought and a commitment to follow both the roles and restraints outlined in the Constitution."

He adds, "Politicians love to talk about the future, about children and grandchildren, yet for far too long they have been passing the financial responsibility for reckless government spending to Americans who haven't yet been born. I applaud efforts of groups like Balanced Budget Now for moving this issue forward."

AND IN SUMMATION

"If Pelosi assumes this leadership role, then President Obama should forget about being re-elected in 2012."

- Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to run for House minority leader.

CANNED APPLAUSE

A little moment of applause for federal workers: The proverbial bureaucracy has a kind heart. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reveal that federal employees donated 1.7 million pounds of nonperishable food items to a summer food drive. USDA donated the most of the large agencies, with 435,535 pounds, followed by National Aeronautics and Space Administration among medium-sized agencies with 99,882 pounds. The Federal Communications Commission was the top performing small agency with 29,420 pounds.

SERIOUS MONEY

Zounds. The Sam Adams Alliance plans to recognize "the country's most active and effective citizen leaders" in a big way with the annual Sammie Awards in the spring. The nonprofit is now taking nominations to determine those grass-roots and activist folk who redrew the lines of the political playing field.

"Among the prizes: Modern Day Sam Adams ($20,000), Messenger Award ($10,000), Reformer Award ($10,000), Watchdog Award ($10,000), Rookie Award ($10,000). Get information, make a nomination here: www.samadamsalliance.org. Don't dilly-dally. The process closes in late January.

POLL DU JOUR

- 80 percent of voters "sensed" that government grew larger during the first two years of the Obama administration.

- 71 percent say the average American has "too little" information about how tax dollars are spent.

- 68 percent say "corruption" played a major role in the financial crisis.

- 63 percent say the new Congress should "never" authorize use of taxpayer funds for bailouts or buyouts of private businesses.

- 53 percent say local law enforcement should be "more involved" in enforcing federal immigration laws.

- 43 percent say the level of corruption in federal government has increased in the last two years.

Source: A Judicial Watch/Polling Company survey of 834 adults who voted in the midterm elections on Nov. 2.

- Canned applause to jharper@washingtontimes .com.

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