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Inside the Beltway: W wheels with the warriors

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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The Secret Service has already gone over the rocky desert trail with sharp eyes and a fine-toothed comb, making way for former President George W. Bush, 24 wounded warriors and a slew of mountain bikes — all arriving Thursday in Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, Texas.

It's time for the second annual "Warrior 100K" — a 100 kilometer, three-day ride across rough terrain under big skies, presented by the George W. Bush Presidential Center for disabled veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. The extended weekend will center on "riding and comradery"with Mr. Bush, an avid biker who will likely wear the same contestant number he wore last year: "43," naturally.

There will be some splendid catered meals along the way, two staged in a brand new park pavilion decorated in the signature "colors of the canyon," according to organizers, and another in the rustic American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum in Amarillo itself. The event has drawn much support from a wide ranging group of sponsors, including Trek bikes, American Airlines, Bell Helicopters and Jelly Belly jellybeans. See www.w100k.com for news and updates.

JAMMIN' WITH 'BAM

1,550: that's the number of news accounts that mentioned the phrases "The Preezy of the United Steezy," "Barack Ness Monster" and "POTUS with the mostest" after President Obama was introduced with such titles during a guest appearance Tuesday night on NBC's "Jimmy Fallon Show." Naturally, the Republican National Committee has already been inspired by Mr. Obama's appearance to produce a three-minute video entitled "A Tale of Two Leaders," showcasing the contrasting styles of both.

Meanwhile, how'd the "Preezy" play out in Hipsterville?

"Obama 'slow jams' a campaign ad ... What he did was deliver a campaign ad with a fairly standard script, painting himself as an ally of middle-class students, and Republicans as the playthings of billionaires" (Slate.com cultural bloggers David Haglund and L.V. Anderson).

"Treads thin line between cool and cringe," (Daily Telegraph music writer Lucy Jones).

"Maybe President Obama should slow jam all of his policy speeches,"(Hollywood Reporter correspondent Jordan Sakarin).

CHEERIO, MR. PRESIDENT

Memo to Republicans: Every iota of support counts among Democrats who will pursue votes and positive buzz wherever they can find it. The party will stage a weeklong official "Global Primary" in five cities throughout England and Scotland beginning Sunday. This is organized fare, and rife with Yankee town-hall touches like music and grand speeches.

"This is the only opportunity American citizens have to physically participate in the U.S. election outside the country and its territories. The Republican Party does not hold a primary for its global members," says Rob Carolina, chairman of Democrats Abroad UK, who urges loyal overseas Dems to get out the vote "to help us return President Obama to the White House."

JOE GROWS FANGS

The Democratic din grows louder Thursday. Vice President Joseph R. Biden ventures to the Brookings Institution to talk up the glories of White House foreign policy, not 24 hours after Sen. Marco Rubio appeared on that very same dais, holding forth on that very same topic. The Florida Republican had much to say about Republican prowess in global matters, perhaps fueling the dreams of those who envision a Romney-Rubio ticket.

But Mr. Biden is also using his moment at Brookings on Thursday for vigorous purpose. President Obama's re-election campaign did not mince words about it:

"The Vice President will contrast the administration's record with the empty rhetoric of Governor Mitt Romney, who continues to distort and mischaracterize the President's accomplishments on foreign policy and national security without offering policy alternatives of his own," the campaign announced in a preliminary salvo.

MARCO GROWS FANGS

"My purpose today was not to catalogue our interests in every corner of the planet. My purpose was to argue that the world is a better place because of American engagement in it, and it will continue to get better only if we continue to engage.

"I disagree with the way in which the current administration has chosen to engage. For while there are few global problems we can solve by ourselves, there are virtually no global problems that can be solved without us. In confronting the challenges of our time, there are more nations than ever capable of contributing, but there is still only one nation capable of leading."

The aforementioned Sen. Marco Rubio, during his speech before the Brookings Institution on Wednesday. See the 34-minute address here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Hb31bEa0mg

FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS

"Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama by 17 percentage points, 54 percent to 37 percent, among very religious voters in Gallup's latest five-day presidential election tracking average. Obama leads by 14 points, 54 percent to 40 percent, among the moderately religious, and by 31 points, 61 percent to 30 percent, among those who are nonreligious," says Gallup director Frank Newport, who released poll findings on Wednesday identifying "religiousness" as a key factor in voter support (www.gallup.com).

"One confounding factor in these results is the reality that black Americans are highly religious and highly likely to be Protestants, while at the same time very likely to be Democrats. In the latest weekly election aggregate, for example, 48 percent of black voters are very religious and only 12 percent are nonreligious, but at the same time, 89 percent support Obama," Mr. Newport later adds.

"Thus, with nonwhites factored out of the analysis, Romney leads by 24 points among white Protestants, and by 41 points among very religious white Protestants. This latter group is the functional equivalent of the group of voters often called evangelicals."

POLL DU JOUR

• 49 percent of Americans say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns than to control gun ownership.

• 72 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of independents and 27 percent of Democrats agree.

• 60 percent of men, 39 percent of women, 57 percent of whites and 35 percent of blacks agree.

• 43 percent overall oppose legal marriage among gays and lesbians.

• 68 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents and 31 percent of Democrats agree.

• 48 percent of men, 39 percent of women, 43 percent of whites and 49 percent of blacks agree.

• 56 percent of Protestants and 42 percent of Catholics also oppose legal marriage among gays and lesbians.

Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey of 3,008 U.S. adults, conducted April 4-15.

Bike routes, churlish remarks, accolades to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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