- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2011

GIPPER GRIDIRON

Many will soon flip over Ronald Reagan. Nearly 5,000 high school, college and NFL teams in all 50 states honor the 100th birthday of America’s 40th president this weekend by tossing a Reagan commemorative coin to start their games. Among the many events: Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert leads the toss at a high school in his state Friday. On Saturday, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina does the same at Clemson University while Sen. Roger F. Wicker of Mississippi does the honors at the University of Mississippi.

Chairmen for this ambitious project include College Football Hall of Famer and coach Lou Holtz, Boston College and NFL quarterback Doug Flutie, four-time Super Bowl champion and MVP Lynn Swann and University of Oklahoma quarterback and former congressman J.C. Watts. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation did much of the organizational heavy lifting.

Reagan had the game in his blood. He once recalled that playing guard on his Dixon, Ill., high school football team was a noble, but glamorous calling. He played guard and also punted for the Eureka College Red Devils, and later provided commentary for university games as a radio broadcaster during the 1930s, including a match of some portent at the University of Michigan. Future president Gerald Ford was playing center.

And “The Gipper”? Reagan earned the nickname after he portrayed versatile Notre Dame legend George “The Gipper” Gipp in Warner Brothers’ 1940 film “Knute Rockne, All American.” Indeed, the handsome actor uttered those famous words, “Win one for the Gipper,” and repeated them with much ado at the 1988 Republican convention. Warner sells the original film online; check here: www.wbshop.com. Incidentally, Reagan himself was in on a mighty big toss: In 1985, via live video feed from the Oval Office, he flipped the coin to start Super Bowl XIX.

“If all my players had the heart and the drive on the field that the Gipper showed in the Oval Office, we would have won every game,” says the aforementioned Mr. Holtz. “I want to encourage every football organization in the United States to stand together and honor the legacy of this great American, Ronald Reagan. We all could learn a thing or two from his example.”

MORNING SICKNESS

Morning talks shows from the “Big Three” networks draw a formidable 13 million daily viewers; their sway in politics should not be underestimated in a big election year. Interesting, then, that NBC, ABC and CBS have gone from “Democratic promoters to Republican destroyers,” says a Media Research Center analysis of 53 interviews with Republican hopefuls from Jan. 1 through Sept. 15.

The press watchdogs found a “clear double-standard” when compared to a similar study of the broadcaster’s treatment of the Democratic candidates during the same time period from four years ago. They found that by a 5-to-1 margin, ABC, CBS and NBC morning show hosts employed an “adversarial liberal agenda” when they questioned Republicans. Eighty-three percent of the policy questions, in fact, reflected the liberal agenda, compared with 17 percent that reflected a conservative viewpoint.

And the Democrats? They faced cushy questions that tilted more than 2-to-1 to the left, and a far friendlier agenda. See the complete study at www.mediaresearch.org.

THE COCKTAIL HOUR

A big Republican weekend? Uh-huh. That in mind, Inside the Beltway revisits the 2008 presidential election and the, uh, “Right Wing Sling” — a red, red cocktail developed byGrey Goose Vodka that received accolades at the time. Here’s the official recipe:

1½ parts Grey Goose vodka, 2 parts club soda, 2 parts cranberry juice, ½ part simple syrup, ¼ part lime juice, lime slice for garnish. Add all ingredients to a rocks glass filled with ice. Stir gently and garnish with lime.

CANDIDATE TRACKER

Though the mighty nine Republican contenders flocked to Orlando, Fla. for the Fox News debate and the American Conservative Union’s flashy “CPAC-FL 2011,” the campaign trail forever beckons, and the siren call of voters, town halls and regional Republican meetings in three other states still matter. Here’s where hopefuls will be this weekend:

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