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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2011

THAT'S SHOW BIZ

Wait, wasn't that...? Yes. It was. Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, CNN's Wolf Blitzer, James Carville and Mary Matalin plus New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Jesse Jackson, Madeleine Albright, Wesley Clark and even former Clinton advisers Terry McAuliffe and John Podesta play themselves in "The Adjustment Bureau." Matt Damon's sci-fi political film released over the weekend showcases his quest to be elected as a Democratic U.S. senator, not to mention a heavy love interest with a feisty ballerina that threatens to derail his Kennedy-like trajectory.

The film already has sparked some debate among Christians because it broaches questions about man's free will, the existence of angels and pre-destination while framing God in the role of the unseen "Chairman." Some theologians point out that Mr. Damon's "forbidden love" with co-star Emily Blunt is ultimately rewarded in the film.

Meanwhile, there's one more credit in the film to consider, and that would be the Clinton Global Iniative, the public organization founded in 2005 by former President Bill Clinton. The splashy policy group was included in the film's "special thanks" list as the cedits rolled. In keeping with the Hollywood-friendly traditions of his presidency, Mr. Clinton's group has drawn wide celebrity interest; including Mr. Damon's, who was a keynote speaker during the group's 2009 gathering. And this year? Sean Penn is the master of ceremonies when the initiative meets next month in San Diego.

Oh, and in fairness to the filmmakers, "The Chairman" also was designated on the special thanks list at the close of the movie.

ONE BY ONE

After three decades of public service, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley left his post Sunday in the aftermath of suggesting that suspected WIkileaks supplier U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning is being mistreated while in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico.

"This decision will undoubtedly spark an angry backlash from the antiwar left. Manning is quickly becoming an antiwar folk hero, and the White House's swift termination of Crowley after he 'defended' Manning will not go over well with Obama's left-wing base," says Alana Goodman of Commentary Magazine. "And now that Crowley's out, is national intelligence director James Clapper the next to go?"

RAH RAH RAH

"Ronald Reagan was the last president we had who didn't graduate from an Ivy League school like Harvard or Yale, and the highest levels of government for much of the nation's history have been filled with Ivy League grads. But that doesn't seem to influence the thinking of most American adults. In fact, only three percent say individuals who go to Ivy League schools are better workers than those who go to other schools," declares a new Rasmussen Reports survey released Sunday.

It found that 79 percent of the respondents do not think Ivy League students make better workers; 18 percent are undecided. "Adults across nearly every demographic agree that an Ivy League education does not necessarily make someone a better worker,'' the survey says, also noting that just 28 percent of Americans say that hard work translates into high pay.

Mr. Reagan, incidentally, was a1932 graduate of Eureka College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in social science and economics.

BIG WIND

Within hours of the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Sen. John D. Rockfeller IV, West Virginia Democrat, and the National Weather Service Employees Organization sounded the alarm on House Republicans who last month approved a $410 million budget cut for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The federal agency houses the ntaional Weather Service, among other things.

Mr. Rockefeller said the GOP cuts would endanger lives by curbing the agency's ability to monitor dangerous natural events, deeming the Japanese catastrophe a "cruel wake up call" to Republicans. The public service employees union heartily agreed. The cuts, however, do not target early wanring systems but instead suggest a 7 percent across-the-board cut, to be made at the NOAA's discretion.

"This is a test of the Democrat Faux Outrage System. Had this been an actual outrage, then someone of consequence would be making these claims," observes a parody headline at Fark.com, an online news aggregator.

RETURN TO SENDER

Former Republican congressman Christopher Lee of New York is refunding $734,000 in leftover campaign money to 1,100 donors, following his resignation last month after his flirtatious come-ons and a pin-up photograph on Craiglist were revealed by a potential date.

"I regret very much how my actions affected my family, staff and constituents. I make no excuses for my behavior. It was wrong," the married Mr. Lee said in a letter to donors. "Now, as a private citizen, my first priority is to try and pull back together a life for my family. God willing, with the continued support of family and friends, it will happen."

POLL DU JOUR

• 50 percent of Americans predict that gas will increase 75 cents or more a gallon this year.

• 26 percent say it will increase 50-75 cents; 15 percent say from 1-50 cents.

• 1 percent say gas prices will stay the same.

• 37 percent say gas eventually will be priced from $3.75-$4 per gallon.

• 27 percent say it will hit $5 or more.

• 22 percent say the price per gallon will range from $4-$4.99.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,021 adults conducted March 3-6.

Credits, debits, press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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