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Inside the Beltway

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

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CAPITAL TRUMP

His preference for politics trumps his taste for glitz: The nation's capital gets a visit from Donald Trump this weekend, who is opting out of a $10 million Las Vegas wedding to join the throngs at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner on Saturday. Mr. Trump will speak before three Republican women's clubs in Vegas on Friday, in full presidential plumage at the Treasure Island Resort ballroom. But he's got another invitation in Sin City. Mr. Trump also was to attend the glittering "American Royal Wedding" festivities of fellow billionaire Steve Wynn and his bride-to-be, Andrea Hissom, with a guest list that includes Garth Brooks, Hugh Jackman, Sylvester Stallone and Celine Dion.

The siren call of politics has prevailed. Mr. Trump also has an invitation from The Washington Post to attend the press dinner on Saturday, in the company of House Majority Leader John A. Boehner and about 2,000 journalists, politicians, strategists and bureaucrats who will invade the Washington Hilton at sunset to gaze upon President Obama and live to tweet about it. Will this auspicious occasion include Mr. Trump?

"He'll be there," a spokesman tells Inside the Beltway. "Trump will be in Washington."

Obligatory comment: Yes, Inside the Beltway will attend the dinner, at a table that includes American Conservative Union chairman Al Cardenas, Republican presidential hopeful Gary Johnson and ultimate friend-of-Beltway John McCaslin, who previously wrote this column and now hosts radio's "America's Morning News."

MSNBC DOES TRUMP

Meanwhile, no one is expecting any imminent announcements from Donald Trump about his intention to run for the White House in 2012. He'll stay demurely mum until the finale of his NBC reality show, "Celebrity Apprentice"; hinting that there are political complications with any premature disclosure. But that's fighting talk to his foes. MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell is particularly piqued at Mr. Trump, calling him a "monster" with a "relentless campaign of hatred."

Mr. O'Donnell claims that Mr. Trump could announce he's running for president at any time and that a splashy announcement alone does not make him a legal candidate for president, which could require his network to provide equal time for other candidates.

"Trump would not automatically become a legally qualified candidate until he files the legally required candidacy papers. He could wait for a week; he could wait for a month," Mr. O'Donnell says, adding, "He's hiding behind NBC. And NBC is allowing him to hide behind NBC."

FOR THE LEXICON

Fido, Mittens, Polly. They, too, now are included in the burgeoning politically correct landscape. Dogs, cats, parakeets, ferrets, hermit crabs - they're not "pets" anymore. The Journal of Animal Ethics, an academic journal published jointly by Britain's Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and the University of Illinois, says the proper name is "companion animals." And no more "owners." It's "human carers," which probably won't go over so well with American retailers who prefer the more marketable "pet parents."

The journal also bans "critters" and "beasts," noting in an editorial, "Despite its prevalence, 'pets' is surely a derogatory term both of the animals concerned and their human carers. Again the word 'owners, while technically correct in law, harks back to a previous age when animals were regarded as just that: property, machines or things to use without moral constraint."

MUDDLE THE TEA

Gallup Polls director Frank Newport chose a provocative headline for a new survey. "Negative Views of the Tea Party Rise to a New High," says a poll revealing that 47 percent of Americans have an "unfavorable image" of the grass-roots movement. Not emphasized: the fact that the modest rise took 14 months to transpire, rising from 40 percent favorability in March, 2010 to the current figure.

Meanwhile, 60 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of conservatives, 50 percent of those favoring Donald Trump and 55 percent of those who disapprove of President Obama support the tea partyers. Seventy-three percent of Democrats and 64 percent of liberals, however, disapprove.

"The percentage of Americans who call themselves supporters of the movement (30 percent) roughly matches the percentage calling themselves opponents (28 percent)," Mr. Newport observes. "Support for the tea party has held steady over the last year at about 30 percent."

ROYAL REDUX

What? Missed the royal wedding? The Associated Press is there. The news service will publish a hardcover commemorative photo book distilled from the work of 21 photographers - next week. Yes, this is what the media now must do to stay competitive.

"Within minutes of each key moment, hundreds of AP photos will be transmitted to thousands of newspapers, magazines, websites and media outlets around the world, says AP photography director Santiago Lyon.

The book goes on sale at www.mypublisher.com the first week in May.

POLL DU JOUR

• 71 percent of voters say the U.S. economy is currently in a recession.

• 73 percent of Republicans, 77 percent of conservatives, 67 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of liberals agree.

• 63 percent of voters overall say President Obama "mostly inherited" the current economic conditions.

• 34 percent of Republicans, 40 percent of conservatives, 84 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of liberals agree.

• 30 percent overall say Mr. Obama's own policies created the current conditions.

• 55 percent of Republicans, 50 percent of conservatives, 11 percent of Democrats and 11 percent of liberals agree.

• 55 percent of voters overall say "the worst is yet to come" in the economy.

• 65 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of conservatives, 45 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A McClatchy/Marist Poll of 1,084 registered voters conducted April 10-14.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com. Follow the column at twitter.com/harperbulletin.

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