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Inside the Beltway

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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FRANKLY SPEAKING

Run for the hills. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has incurred the wrath of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has condemned him for serving hot dogs to troops returning home from combat tours, during an appearance on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report."

"The next time you decide to honor our men and women in uniform, please give them veggiedogs or other nutritious, cholesterol-free vegan foods and leave fatty, artery-clogging meat off the menu," growled PETA president Ingrid Newkirk in a letter faxed to Mr. Biden. She also offered the help of a platoon of vegetarian bombshells who make disconcerting public appearances in scanty bikinis crafted from salad greens.

"Our 'Lettuce Ladies' would be happy to serve our military personnel delicious veggie dogs at any of your upcoming events," Ms. Newkirk added.

BOOTS ON THE GROUND

Tuesday is primary day in seven states - including Maryland, which hosts the moment of reckoning for conservative Charles Lollar. The former U.S. Marine has waged a vigorous, tenacious campaign to unseat House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, who has represented the state's 5th Congressional District for 29 years. Mr. Lollar is poised for the final surge in a field of four Republican and three Democratic hopefuls. He's picked up the blessings of Fox News host Sean Hannity and endorsements from four newspapers, the Maryland Republican Assembly, FreedomWorks and the Black America's Political Action Committee, among other groups.

"It's a long process to bring what we call a 'new day' to Maryland, and we've made the argument that Charles can actually change things for the better. Now we get to find out if our argument was true, if the voters believe in us. And if we make it to the next level, we're prepared. Our challenge will be 10 times greater," campaign manager Mykel Harris tells Inside the Beltway.

THE ODDS SQUAD

Fresh from our Faith and Begorrah desk: Sarah Palin is now second-favorite to win the Republican nomination for the 2012 presidential race, according to the Dublin-based betting firm Paddy Power.

"The mother of five is now at odds of 4-1 just behind race favorite former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 11-4. Palin's forthcoming engagement as main speaker at a Republican dinner in Iowa has fueled speculation over whether she will run for president in 2012 and has resulted in Paddy Power cutting her odds from 6-1 to 4-1 to win," says spokesman Ken Roberts of the former Alaska governor.

Paddy Power also offers 6-1 for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, 8-1 for Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota; 12-1 for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels; and 14-1 for U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus. The lengthy list also offers 100-1 for Dick Cheney and 500-1 for Laura Bush.

The Irish observers also rank President Obama at the top of the heap for next president at 8-11 - followed by Mr. Romney (6-1) and Mrs. Palin (10-1). Easily amused, they also rank former White House hopefuls Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Vice President Al Gore (both at 66-1), and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts (100-1).

CUT A RUG

Inquiring minds want to know. Did the White House tear up former President George W. Bush's rug from the Oval Office, then give the historic remnants to network video crews to set their cameras upon? This was the rug that Laura Bush designed, replaced during a much-ballyhooed redesign of the nation's most famous office space. At least one reporter was under the impression for a time that, yes, some insensitive snipping had gone on.

"White House spokesman Josh Earnest wanted to clarify that, per my comment in the last report about White House camera stands being set up on little carpet squares that were formerly pieces of Bush-era White House carpeting, they are not pieces from Bush's Oval Office rug," notes Roll Call correspondent Jen Bendery's White House pool report for Monday afternoon.

"The carpet scraps used for events in the White House Residence are the remnants of carpet projects in the residence. As you would expect, President Bush's Oval Office rug is intact and is the responsibility of the curator," Mr. Earnest says, as a matter of clarification.

JUST SO YOU KNOW

OK. We're officially scared of H1N1, among other things. The American Society for Microbiology and the American Cleaning Institute - once merely known as the Soap and Detergent Association - has revealed that 85 percent of adults wash their hands in public restrooms, up from 67 percent a decade ago. The group "discreetly observed" 6,028 adults in public restrooms in August to determine this. There's a gender divide, of course. The massive study also found that 77 percent of men publicly scrubbed their paws, compared with 93 percent of women.

POLL DU JOUR

- 90 percent of viewers who watch Fox News' Sean Hannity say overall news coverage is politically biased.

- 69 percent of MSNBC "Hardball" viewers and 55 percent of New York Times readers agree.

- 80 percent of viewers who watch MSNBC's Rachel Maddow approve of President Obama.

- 39 percent of Wall Street Journal readers and 9 percent of Rush Limbaugh's listeners also approve.

- 74 percent of CNN viewers say they are environmentalists.

- 52 percent of Fox News viewers also say they are environmentalists.

- 69 percent of those who watch MSNBC's Stephen Colbert support gay rights.

- 27 percent of those who watch Fox News' Glenn Beck also support gay rights.

Source: A Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey of 3,006 adults conducted June 8-28 and released Sunday.

- Whispers, rumbles, noise to jharper@ washingtontimes.com.

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