- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The third anniversary of CNBC analyst Rick Santelli’s famous on-camera rant that many grass-roots folk cite as an early catalyst of the tea party movement has passed - but Mr. Santelli’s spell still lingers. Jeff Kahn, co-founder of Draft Santelli for President 2012, now advises Republican hopeful Mitt Romney to make the broadcaster his vice presidential nominee, or lose the White House.

The canny Mr. Santelli boasts appeal among Republicans, conservatives, tea partyers, independents, disenchanted Democrats, seniors, working-class voters, women and the disenfranchised in general, Mr. Kahn insists.

“We just contacted the Romney campaign but have not heard back yet. It’s only been 24 hours, but we hope they see the wisdom in considering Rick,” Mr. Kahn tells Inside the Beltway. “There’s still time. Meanwhile, we’ve gotten straightforward support and a lot of love from the public on this idea. They believe that Rick Santelli is the true key for a Romney win.”

HISTORIC MUDSLINGING

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he thought a naval exercise was something you find in Jane Fonda’s workout book.” (Vice President George H.W. Bush, on Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis during the 1988 presidential campaign.)

“His idea of a naval exercise us throwing his advisers overboard.” (Mr. Dukakis on Mr. Bush.)

TEEING UP CONGRESS

Power players from the golf realm hope for at least a birdie during their visit to Capitol Hill on Wednesday. There will be a Republican vs. Democrat putting challenge in the Rayburn Building, and swing analysis from Golf Channel pro Michael Breed for Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, plus Democratic Reps. Joe Baca of California and James E. Clyburn of South Carolina. It’s all courtesy of We Are Golf, a coalition of leaders from the PGA of America and other organizations who’ll meet dozens of lawmakers to talk up the $76-billion-per-year industry.

The game has been “misunderstood by too many of our nation’s policymakers,” Mike Hughes, CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association, tells Inside the Beltway. “We set out to do a better job explaining our profound impact on communities around the country … our diverse businesses and their employees, the tax revenue we generate, the tourism we spawn, the charity we generate and the environmental leadership we provide.”

An optimistic Mr. Hughes adds, “More members of Congress now understand that for nearly 2 million Americans, golf is more than just a game. They understand it never made sense to exclude golf - along with massage parlors and liquor stores and tanning salons - from tax relief legislation. They understand what golf brings to their communities.”

E.T., CALL AL GORE

Such intrigue: Late last year, the Library of Congress asked for nominations to fill the Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress chair in astrobiology, to research “the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.” And what a chair: the yearlong appointment at the library’s John W. Kluge Center carries a stipend of $13,500 - per month.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has named David H. Grinspoon as the new astro-guy. The winner is curator of astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the author of “Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life.” The Extraterrestrial Political Action Committee - yes, there is one - should be pleased.

But wait. Some of Mr. Grinspoon’s other writings include “Comparing Worlds: Climate Catastrophes in the Solar System” and “Environmental Ethics of Exploring and Living in Space.” Al Gore should be pleased too. Climate change appears to flavor Mr. Grinspoon’s tenure, which begins in November.

“Grinspoon will examine choices facing humanity as we enter the Anthropocene Era, the epoch when human activities are becoming a defining characteristic of the physical nature and functioning of Earth,” the library explains. “His research will include studies of the role of planetary exploration in fostering scientific and public understanding of climate change and the power of astrobiology as a model of interdisciplinary research and communication.”

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