- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2012

THE PRESS IN JEOPARDY

Longtime “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek thinks there’s something actually powerful about the 15 media heavies, former political operatives and celebrities who will play for charity when the show tapes its “Power Players Week” episodes at DAR Constitution Hall this weekend.

Those players include Fox News anchorman Chris Wallace and correspondent Dana Perino, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, MSNBC host Chris Matthews, NBC correspondent Kelly O’Donnell, and former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs; the Power shows will air the week of May 14 to 18. And in the pantheon of Jeopardy hopefuls, this group stands out.

“Because of their prominence in the public spotlight, whether on stage or television, in print, or in the political arena, these players have the ability to influence significant events in the news - and that power can be considerable,” the diplomatic Mr. Trebek tells Inside the Beltway.

CANDIDATE TRACKER

What’s this? A Republican primary? Where, where? It’s been weeks since the slavering press got to feast upon the fancy events and rampant speculation generated by a Republican presidential primary, but now’s their chance. On Tuesday, voters in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island go to the polls. But the front-runner will not be anywhere near the primaries.

It’s essentially a Romney-centric weekend in Arizona, which staged its primaries way back in February. Mitt Romney addresses a pivotal three-day meeting of the Republican National Committee and state party chairmen in Scottsdale, which bristles with Grand Old Partyers of note.

The event theme is “Keeping Arizona Red,” and other big-name speakers include Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain and Gov. Jan Brewer (all from Arizona), Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, and pollster Frank Luntz. Some press accounts characterize Mr. Romney’s appearance as a “victory lap,” though he has not been officially endorsed by the Republican National Committee “out of respect” to remaining candidates, according to chairman Reince Priebus.

Those hopefuls are not state-hopping as they once did. Rep. Ron Paul is trundling around New York and Pennsylvania. He winds up appearances at colleges in the Empire State, then is bound for four weekend events in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, including an “Afternoon of Freedom” rally at Independence Mall on Sunday with former CIA officer and “Bin Laden Unit leader” Michael Scheuer.

Newt Gingrich has no weekend events scheduled. Libertarian Gary Johnson, meanwhile, will appear at “Libertyfest” in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Friday and Saturday.

COMMENCEMENT ALERT

Talk about a crowd: Mitt Romney will address Liberty University’s commencement ceremony next month, and the event is a whopper. More than 14,000 graduates will be on hand, not to mention 34,000 guests. It’s “historic,” says chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., whose father founded the Christian school in Lynchburg, Va., almost four decades ago.

“It is reminiscent of the visits of Gov. and then-presidential candidate Ronald Reagan to Liberty’s campus in 1980 and of President George H.W. Bush, who spoke at Liberty’s 1990 commencement ceremony,” Mr. Falwell adds.

BUMPER PATROL

“What this country needs is more unemployed politicians.”

— Bumper sticker spotted near Pasadena, Calif.

UNDOCUMENTED EARTH DAY

As always, there’s lots of feel good, eco-minded activities planned for Earth Day on Sunday. The Arbor Day Foundation will plant trees in 50 states while JetBlue will plant 80,000 trees to honor its customers. Assorted interest groups are pushing paperless offices, cloth diapers, sustainable housing, recycling, refillable ink cartridges, organic cosmetics and other green-minded niceties.

Then there’s Californians for Population Stabilization, a nonprofit group scheduled to begin a national TV campaign Friday proclaiming that “mass immigration to the U.S. is expanding the country’s massive carbon footprint.” The group includes a spate of Sierra Club members and academes on its board of directors and strongly supports increased border security, among other things.

“Because of American’s proclivity for conspicuous consumption, most environmentalists understand that population growth in the U.S. affects the environment,” says chairman Missy DeYoung. “However, many environmentalists won’t talk about the fact that immigration is the No. 1 factor driving U.S. population growth. It’s intellectually dishonest to think we can address population growth without addressing mass immigration.”

The group is not keen on the Department of Homeland Security’s “non-stop effort to eviscerate immigration laws,” according to an April 5 position paper.

“If you’re keeping score on how successful the anti-enforcement Obama administration has been, here’s a partial list of its dubious actions. Government efforts to protect or assist aliens include toll-free Department of Labor 800-numbers for illegal immigrants to report what they perceive as unfair wage practices, a White House-appointed ‘official alien advocate,’ as well as the aforementioned prosecutorial discretion and unlawful presence waivers,” says researcher Joe Guzzardi.

POLL DU JOUR

• 32 percent of Americans say that if Mitt Romney is elected president, he will bring about “change for the better” in the nation.

• 61 percent of Republicans, 11 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of independents agree.

• 7 percent overall say Mr. Romney will bring “change for the worse”; 1 percent of Republicans, 14 percent of Democrats and 4 percent of independents agree.

• 47 percent overall say he’ll bring “no change”; 25 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of independents agree.

• 55 percent overall say they are confident Mr. Romney will make the right decisions on the economy; 83 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of independents agree.

Source: A CBS News/New York Times poll of 957 U.S. adults conducted April 13 to 17.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com.