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Inside the Beltway

ONCOMING UNDECILLION

Safety in numbers? Certainly not. Multiple alarming headlines warn: "National debt at $14 trillion." If cosmic astronomer Carl Sagan had ever been asked to note such a figure during his lifetime, he most likely would have used this more precise version describing that debt as of 11:59 p.m., Dec. 31, 2010, courtesy of the U.S. Treasury Department: $14,025,215,218,708.52.

And, as a popular bumper sticker advises, "Don't tell Obama what comes after a trillion." The bad news: Our language is prepared to assist President Obama to the nth degree, should the need arise. This is what comes after a trillion: quadrillion, quintillion, sextillion, septillion, octillion, nonillion, decillion and undecillion, which incidentally has 39 zeroes after it. And after that? Obamazillion, of course.

WEDNESDAY'S SCRIPT

When the political hue of the U.S. Capitol magically switches over from blue to red Wednesday, the Grand Old Party should be at its telegenic best, civility intact and talking points in hand. The mainstream press may emerge with script already written when the newly Republican-controlled Congress convenes, if NBC "Today" host Matt Lauer is any gauge.

"You've got some people who've staked their entire careers and reputation on dissent and they're gonna do a lot of yelling in these first couple of days and weeks," Mr. Lauer predicts. "Do they want investigations or do they want other things accomplished?"

Democrats are already poised to mount a campaign for "filibuster reform," which should be filled with noise and posturing; there's already a public petition of support being circulated by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. But wait. Republican reality television also makes its debut with a different script on Wednesday, with likely directions scribbled into the margins that call for "enter stage right, hit ground running," perhaps.

"The federal spending spree will stop with the new Republican majority," says Majority Leader-elect Eric Cantor of Virginia, in reference to a shiny new Republican resolution that reduces the operating budgets of House committees, leadership offices and individual member offices.

"This self-imposed cut to our own operating budgets in the House will save American taxpayers more than $35 million right away and I hope that federal agencies across the spectrum will follow suit and find ways to cut their own budgets. If not, were happy to do it for them," Mr. Cantor adds.

"House Republicans, in particular members of the newly elected freshman class, need Americans to know that when we vote to cut spending, spending really will be cut with no Washington-style gimmicks," notes Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the incoming chairman of the Republican Study Committee.

NOW HEAR THIS

It's time for "announcing with the stars." Fresh from her terpsichorean adventures, Bristol Palin already has received a job offer from a Phoenix radio station as an on-air morning host, prior to her much-mooted move from Alaska to Arizona.

"We are not looking for a political commentator, nor are we looking to push a political agenda. The position would require only a few hours of work per weekday while providing an annual salary, plus talent fees and endorsement fees," says the offer from MIX 96.9, a Clear Channel station where the format includes the girly rocker stylings of Pink and Katy Perry.

"She just purchased a house in Maricopa and it has been rumored that she may attend Arizona State University, so why not invite her over here?" reasons MIX morning host MathewBlades.

VIRTUE

"We all know politics is considered a hardball sport, but how you comport yourself is as much a part of your life here as political victories and your voting record. 'Decency' should be a new watchword in Washington, and it falls to you to make it so. If you don't see it here, be it here."

-- From an open letter to new members of the 112th Congress from National Review Editor-at-large Kathyrn Jean Lopez and Claremont Institute fellow SethLeibsohn

GIPPERVILLE

The official observance of the "Ronald ReaganCentennial" comes to life Wednesday at the U.S. Archives with a press tour of some rarely displayed documents and iconic objects from the Reagan era. The yearlong display honors what would have been Mr. Reagan's 100th birthday on Feb. 6; it opens to the public Saturday.

Among the iconic goodies: three pages of Mr. Reagan's "Evil Empire" speech with his handwritten edits; fragments of the first U.S. missile destroyed after the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty; a fragment of the last Soviet SS-20 missile, destroyed on May 12, 1991; and the president's "talking points" cards prepared for a private meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on Sept. 27, 1985.

Reaganphiles can rejoice, meanwhile. There's lots going on across the nation, and this is good resource: www.reagancentennial.com.

POLL DU JOUR

- 82 percent of likely U.S. voters think it is likely they will be "unhappy" with congressional Democrats by 2012.

- 14 percent say it is unlikely that will happen.

- 67 percent of voters say it is likely they will be unhappy with congressional Republicans by 2012.

- 25 percent say it is unlikely that will happen.

In a second poll:

- 59 percent of voters said they likely will become unhappy with the new Republican majority.

- 33 percent said it is not likely that they will be unhappy.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Sunday and a separate survey of 1,000 voters conducted Nov. 3.

- Terse announcements, filibusters to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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