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Inside the Beltway

Question of the Day

What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

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ANCHORS AWAY

"The experimental study employed one of the most compelling visual cues of female sexual attractiveness (low waist-to-hip ratio) to test the influence of news anchor sexualization on audience evaluations of her as a professional and their memory for the news that she presents. Male participants saw the sexualized version of the anchor as less suited for war and political reporting. They also encoded less news information presented by the sexualized than her unsexualized version."

(Excerpt from "Sexual Cues Emanating From the Anchorette Chair: Implications for Perceived Professionalism, Fitness for Beat, and Memory for News," a new Indiana University study of the effect of gorgeous female TV anchors on a male audience.)

"While the results of that scenario are speculative, this paper offers one more reason why Fox News viewers are so ill-informed on so many issues. I mean, have you seen those photos of Megyn Kelly?" observes Tom Jacobs, an analyst with Miller-McCune magazine, a publication that reviews academic research.

THE DENOUEMENT

Alas, a backfire. All the cozy chatter about civility, unity and seating arrangements leading up to the State of the Union address ultimately inspired indecorous coverage, rather than the glowing reviews perhaps envisioned by Democrats who suggested opposing lawmakers sit among each other. Here are some of the many new descriptors for President Obama's speech, now on the permanent record:

"SOTU prom (Hotair.com), "the big dance" (Los Angeles Times), "bipartisan seating festival" (the New York Times), "kumbaya seating" (Fox News), "date night" (ABC News), "bipartisan odd couples" (The Washington Post), "State of the Union regresses from high school to nursery school (New York magazine).

KEITH UH-OHLBERMANN

The host who abruptly left MSNBC four days ago tweeted his way through the State of the Union address via a new oracle he calls "FOKNews," even as a cadre of his fans urge him to run for office or find a new network. Then there's other advice. Cease to be the "voice of liberalism and bitchiness" and go back to a previous calling once nurtured on ESPN and Fox Sports Net, says one observer.

"When you were a smart guy talking about sports, you were always able to maintain your ironic detachment, while at the same time allowing your intellect to shine through. You were able to seem like a guy that smart viewers would want to hang out with — would want to be — rather than like a thin-skinned TV star who loved the sound of his own voice," advises Gawker.com scribe Hamilton Nolan. "Hell, do five years of sportscasting and then go into politics. The average Republican will have forgotten they ever hated you."

ESCAPE VELOCITY

What with space tourism all the rage, at least consider a theme park, maybe. NASA has announced that its space shuttle facilities are available for "commercial use" now that the noble project has been mothballed. Indeed, two launchpads, a 15,000-foot runway, behemoth buildings and other large-scale fare is part of the package.

The space agency "is seeking to identify potential industry interest in, and proposed uses for some, agency real-property assets located at Kennedy Space Center in Florida," says the notice of availability, though any reinvention of the property can't pose a negative impact on NASAs mission or master plan, or be used for residential or agricultural projects. So. What about space tourism?

Note that Virginia-based Space Adventures has signed an agreement with the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation and the Rocket Space Corporation Energia to offer commercial seats aboard Soyuz spacecraft bound for the International Space Station, beginning in 2013.

"We would like to thank our Russian partners in increasing Soyuz production and providing Space Adventures these well sought-after transportation services on the only commercially available manned spacecraft currently in operation," says Eric Anderson, chairman of the U.S. group.

TAKE A LOOK

It's not time to play softball and wallow in civility, apparently. Judicial Watch recommends the 112th Congress investigate White House "czar" policies, ACORN, Climategate, the financial solvency of U.S. states, government justification for authorizing big bailouts and President Obama's "attempts to enact stealth amnesty for illegal aliens without approval by Congress."

The government-watchdog group is also antsy over health care reform, pension fraud, national security, "politicization at the Department of Justice" and what they deem "White House bribery," citing federal appointment offers to candidates now-former Rep. Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania Democrat, and Andrew Romanoff, who ran for U.S. Senate in Colorado.

"The American people spoke clearly on Election Day. No more backroom deals, no more influence peddling and no more corruption. This new Congress has an obligation to honor the intense desire by the American people to clean up corruption in Washington," says the group's president, Tom Fitton, who calls the Obama administration "the most secretive in recent American history."

POLL DU JOUR

• Four: The number of times since 1978 that a U.S. president has had a "spike" in public opinion following a State of the Union address.

• 48 percent: President Obama's favorability rating before his 2010 speech.

• 48 percent: His rating after the speech.

• 60 percent: President Bush's rating before his 2003 speech.

• 61 percent: Mr. Bush's rating afterwards.

• 47 percent: President Clinton's rating before his 1995 speech.

• 49 percent: Mr. Clinton's rating after the speech.

Source: Gallup Poll approval ratings historical records, 1978-2010.

Idle chatter, hue and cry to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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