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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 24, 2011

GREAT SCOTT

There are those who grasp genuine grassroots power. Though he has only been in office since January, Rep. Tim Scott - a self-described "strong conservative" - already is a canny, amiable presence on the 2012 campaign trail. The South Carolina Republican has organized a major town hall meeting for presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr.. On Thursday, Mr. Scott hosts Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota for another, with all the social media trimmings.

He urges GOP voters to visit www.timstownhalls.com and post their questions for Mrs. Bachmann. The questions that receive the most Facebook "likes" will get asked. Among those posted so far: "Congresswoman Bachmann: Recently Gov. Huntsman said he would gladly run as your vice president? Would you consider a RINO as your running mate?"

Mr. Scott has the support of three local GOP organizations and seven tea party groups - with such intriguing names as "Goose Creek 9/12" and "Georgetown Patriots."

MISSING LAWMAKERS

Many lawmakers have shrugged off public criticism, choosing to wallow in their monthlong vacations rather than remain on Capitol Hill during a critical juncture in the nation's history. Oh, they had excuses. The majority justified their absence by claiming they need to go home and tend to their constituents. Got to solve those local challenges and take care of the neighbors. Yes, indeedie.

No Labels - a persistent, nonpartisan gadfly group - polled every member of the House of Representatives to find 56 percent of them have not - we repeat, have not - scheduled any town hall meetings during the August recess. The phone survey also reveals the breakdown: 59 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of Republicans are derelict in their town hall duties.

Check the complete roster of conscientious lawmakers who are calling their towns to order - and those who are not - at the group's website. (http://nolabels.org/blog/60-congress-not-holding-town-halls)

THE MISSING LINKS

"Mink Meadows." (Name of the golf course where President Obama played a round Wednesday, courtesy of White House pool reporter Jackie Calmes of the New York Times.)

LIBERAL PERRYPHOBIA

Uh-oh. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is "the God-fearing, know-nothing, pistol-packing embodiment of liberals' worst nightmares," insists New Republic scribe Walter Shapiro, who says the presidential hopeful's political stature "is unprecedented in the annals of modern conservative history from Barry Goldwater to Sarah Palin."

Mr. Shapiro elaborates: "What sets Perry apart and earns him his niche in the far right corner of Mount Rushmore has nothing to do with the gyrations of the 2012 campaign. Indeed, Perry is not only a presidential candidate, but also a cowboy-booted sociological experiment. It is almost as if Perry's political persona was constructed by bundling together all the fears and phantoms in the left-wing anxiety closet. Since the hysteria of the 1950s Red Scare, no Republican figure has matched Perry in his God-given ability to give liberals the heebie-jeebies."

PERRYTOPIA

A genuine cowboy, the real deal, fearless? The appeal of the aforementioned Mr. Perry takes many forms, including his clear, unapologetic support for pro-life causes.

He's signed on to the Susan B. Anthony List's "Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge," which guarantees he'll back U.S. federal bench judges who don't "legislate from the bench," appoint pro-life Cabinet officials, end taxpayer funding of abortion and back the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

"I not only pledge to protect unborn life but have a record of doing so in Texas," says Mr. Perry, who is called a "long-time friend" of the pro-life community by List president Marjorie Dannenfelser.

He's got company. Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Thaddeus G. McCotter of Michigan, and Ron Paul of Texas, plus Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich also have signed the pledge. White House hopefuls who have not: Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman Jr. and Gary Johnson.

SCIENCE CORNER

Well, all right then. The University of Arizona reveals the average office desk top harbors 100 times more bacteria than a typical kitchen table - and 400 times more than the average toilet seat. No, really. Now new research from the American Dietetic Association finds that 83 percent of Americans eat lunch at their desk. Only 36 percent ever bother to clean the desk surface.

The association's comment on this: "When it comes to protecting themselves against foodbourne illnesses, many professionals are still 'out to lunch.' "

POLL DU JOUR

• 29 percent of Republican voters say they are most likely to support Rick Perry in 2012.

• 40 percent of those over 65, 34 percent of weekly churchgoers, 34 percent of conservatives, 30 percent of men and 28 percent of women agree.

• 17 percent of Republican voters say they likely will support Mitt Romney.

• 16 percent of those over 65, 16 percent of weekly churchgoers, 16 percent of conservatives, 16 percent of men and 19 percent of women agree.

• 13 percent of Republican voters say they'll likely support Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

• 4 percent of those over 65, 34 percent of weekly churchgoers, 34 percent of conservatives, 30 percent of men and 28 percent of women agree.

• 10 percent of GOP voters say they likely will support Rep. Michele Bachmann.

• 10 percent of those over 65, 9 percent of weekly churchgoers, 12 percent of conservatives, 10 percent of men and 10 percent of women agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,040 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents conducted Aug. 17 to 21.

Meetings, greetings, heebie-jeebies to jharper@washingtontimes .com.

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