Inside the Beltway: Forever Santelli

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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.”

READ IT AND OINK

Talk about red meat: Citizens Against Government Waste (cagw.org) has released the “2012 Congressional Pig Book”, the nonprofit group’s annual expose of pork-barrel spending. Seven Republican lawmakers assisted in the public event, including Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania - plus a pair of pot-bellied pigs named Bubbles and Churchill.

The “little pink book” finds that the number of earmarks dropped from 9,129 in fiscal year 2010 to 152 in 2012, and that the total cost decreased from $16.5 billion to $3.3 billion in that period. But alas, the ballyhooed moratorium on earmarks has been breached by Congress on at least three occasions.

“Because a moratorium is not a permanent ban on earmarks, a bipartisan group of senators is proposing such a ban,” says the organization’s president, Tom Schatz. “Since that effort has been rejected so far, it is reasonable to conclude that a majority of senators would like to restore earmarks.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 79 percent of Americans say addressing the nation’s job situation is important; 42 percent say it’s unlikely that President Obama and Congress will ever agree on legislation to remedy it.

• 73 percent of Americans say reducing the federal budget deficit is important; 60 percent say Mr. Obama and Congress will likely not agree on legislation.

• 64 percent say it’s important to address the nation’s energy needs; 48 percent say it’s unlikely the two sides will agree on legislation.

• 49 percent say it’s important to address problems in the new health care law; 61 percent say it’s unlikely the two sides will agree on legislation.

• 46 percent say it’s important to address immigration; 58 percent say it’s unlikely the two sides will agree on legislation.

Source: A United Technologies/National Journal poll of 1,002 U.S. adults conducted April 12 to 15.

Squeals of protest, rants, asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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