After three decades of searching, Oliver North at last gets the ceremonial sword he received upon his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968. The shining blade later disappeared when the young Marine and his bride, Betsy, were transferred from Camp LeJeune to Newport, R.I.; the costly sword was likely stolen. But he never stopped looking for it.
"I am not much enamored by material things. I've got my wife, my kids and my grandkids. But this sword really is special. I received it when I graduated from the academy, cut my wedding cake with it, carried it in countless ceremonies. It's required for the uniform, and is an honorable reminder of those guys that aren't with us anymore," Mr. North, author and Fox News Channel host, tells Inside the Beltway.
But there's drama here. The sword eventually surfaced 32 years after its loss in Atlanta's Gallery 63 auction house where owner Paul Brown went through considerable machinations to return the sword to Mr. North. The circumstances drew cameras: the Discovery Channel series "Auction Kings" features the story — not to mention man-and-sword reunion — on Thursday at 9 p.m.
"I am grateful to get my sword back, obviously well cared for over the years. The return is a real, rare testament to the decency of people," Mr. North says. "My dear wife, Betsy, saved up her pennies and bought me a replacement for it years ago, which I truly treasure. So now we have two. Our big decision: Which one goes over the fireplace?"
In about 200 hours, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker faces a recall election that has become a dramatic tableau for both political parties. The latest numbers: Mr. Walker leads Milwaukee mayor and Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, 52 percent to 45 percent in a poll of 600 likely local voters released Wednesday by Marquette Law School. The Grand Old Party, meanwhile, stands at the ready.
"It is absolutely critical that all Republicans join together in supporting Gov. Walker. Wisconsin is better off because Scott Walker is governing as he campaigned," says Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who has partnered with fellow chairmen in five neighboring states to mobilize volunteers to rouse support.
Mr. Priebus has competition, though. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been in Wisconsin rallying the grass-roots folk, also hinting that former President Bill Clinton would soon do the same. Meanwhile, the GOP point men are vocal about the national implications of it all.
"In Indiana, we understand that victory in Wisconsin is a victory for taxpayers and freedom of choice over selfish special-interest groups," says Indiana Chairman Eric Holcomb, while Iowa Chairman A.J. Spiker insists, "Every Hawkeye Republican should take a few minutes to make calls and make a difference. It doesn't take much time to make a big impact."
Says Michigan Chairman Bobby Schostak,"A vote for Gov. Walker is a vote for jobs, fiscal responsibility and efficient government. Now we need to make sure every voter understands that."
THE DELETE ELITE
And now, a cultural moment of sorts. Launched by the Sunlight Foundation on Wednesday: http://politwoops.sunlightfoundation.com, which tracks, then publishes all the deleted tweets from assorted politicians. The nonprofit watchdog will monitor official Twitter accounts for all members of Congress, President Obama and Mitt Romney — seeking "potential political gaffes," among other things.
"Politwoops identifies when politicians or their staffs are editing errors or rephrasing a tweet, providing a window into what politicians are thinking and how campaigns hone their social-media messaging," says Tom Lee, a Web developer who is directing the project.
COLBERT AMONG WOMEN
Look like he's in touch with his feminine side. Or something. Comedy Central's fake newsman Stephen Colbert has been named to Maxim's "Hot 100 Women in the World List," ranked between singer Miley Cyrus and Michelle Dockery, who starred on the PBS series "Downton Abbey." The men's magazine included Mr. Colbert on the roster of beautiful women based on readers' votes.
"Democracy isn't always pretty," the publication insists.
"I am one of the hottest women in the world," Mr. Colbert screamed at his audience Tuesday night. "This is historic, folks."
"My personal library is still full of books on John and Robert Kennedy, and I have rarely talked about politics without trying to capture the noble things they stood for. I have also not forgotten that in my early 30s, the Democratic Party managed to engineer the last run of robust growth and expanded social mobility that we have enjoyed; and when the party was doing that work, it felt inclusive, vibrant and open-minded. But parties change. As I told a reporter last week, this is not Bill Clinton's Democratic Party (and he knows that even if he can't say it)."
(From former four-term Alabama representative Artur Davis' rationale, explaining why he left the Democratic Party, published as a "Response to Political Rumors" at his personal website: www.officialarturdavis.com)
POLL DU JOUR
• 71 percent of U.S. small business owners think the economy is still in recession.
• 61 percent say health care/Medicare is the "business issue" that will have the greatest influence on their presidential election vote.
• 57 percent cite jobs and unemployment; 47 percent cite the federal debt.
• 60 percent say health care reform will "negatively impact" their businesses.
• 27 percent say economic uncertainty is the most significant challenge they have faced in the past two years.
• 20 percent would lower taxes if they were "U.S. president for one day"; 17 percent would reduce regulations; 15 percent would solve health insurance issues.
Source: A U.S. Bank "Small Business Annual Survey" of 3,220 small business owners in 25 states conducted March 1 to April 1 and released Wednesday.
• Memories, speculation, polite applause to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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