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Inside the Beltway: The inevitable Gore

Question of the Day

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

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"Hurricane Sandy is a disturbing sign of things to come. We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis. Dirty energy makes dirty weather," says Al Gore, commenting on Hurricane Sandy in his personal blog.

"You can be sure that the 'tabloid climatologists' will pervert science and try to claim Sandy as some sort of 'proof' of man-made global warming. The new normal for climate activists is their ever shifting claims as they morph the entire anthropogenic global warming argument to focus on extreme weather," offers Climate Depot founder Marc Morano, countering Mr. Gore, Meghan McCain and other "warmists" speaking out on the hurricane, plus the press coverage they engender.

HURRICANE FINESSE

Major weather events and catastrophes are tricky business for both President Obama and Mitt Romney. As Hurricane Sandy ebbs and cleanup continues, both Mssrs. Obama and Romney must appear presidential and authentically concerned with the outcome without appearing to be politically opportunistic or mawkish. NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd says it's a "true high-wire act for President Obama and his administration every hiccup could get amplified; that's the real political danger for the president. Then again, he has the bully pulpit and a job to do."

Mr. Obama's newly emerged alliance with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, meanwhile, plays well in Newark, as well as Peoria, Sandusky and Richmond. But Mr. Romney is not without his own finesse. His campaign was offering modest hurricane relief efforts four days ago, and ahead of the Obama campaign. And Mr. Romney has had his moments on camera in the last 24 hours where his leadership and sincerity were in evidence.

"Mitt Romney, might be in the trickier spot," Mr. Todd observes. "He has no job to do right now -- he can't look overtly political. Romney is doing a relief event, which means no politics. But the setting? It's very political: Ohio."

ZOMBIE ECONOMY

Forget voodoo economics. Zombie money helps the economy. While the National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend $8 billion on Halloween this year, other analysts put the figure at more than $10 billion, adding a spectrum of revelry expenditures that the retail group missed -- including liquor sales, limousine and taxi fares, extra hotel expenses, food sales outside of candy, pumpkins, homemade costumes and tickets to commercial haunted houses, which amount to $500 million a year, according to the Haunted House Association, a very well organized industry group. Indeed, the walking dead have boosted the economy, and vampires certainly do not suck the life out of it.

"Back in 2011, we tallied up that zombies were worth more than $5 billion to the economy. That zombie tab has only grown, due to one more Halloween and due to more movies and events. Vampires were tallied up at about $10 billion to the economy, but they would also now be worth more because there has been one more Halloween, another 'Twilight' movie and on. As far as costumes, it is pretty funny that Big Bird costumes were reportedly sold out," says Jon Ogg, an analyst with Wall Street 24/7.

ESCAPIST ELECTION

"Which is scarier? Halloween, the current election or being buried alive? That's what I have asked myself," says Curtis Lovell, a California-based celebrity escape artist whose role model is the great illusionist Harry Houdini.

"I can freely answer this question, since I have been buried alive, locked inside boxes of water, hung upside-down from helicopters and even cut Paris Hilton in half," Mr. Lovell tells Inside the Beltway. "You might think I belong in a straightjacket like the most rabid politicians."

Well, maybe. He does have practical advice for those who feel that the shrill media, endless campaign ads and the presidential election are closing in on them.

"The key elements to any escape is to stay focused, don't panic and do not to get permanently trapped," Mr. Lovell advises voters. "And don't allow all the tricky speeches, the political ads and political parties to trap you this election either. Go with your gut feeling and escape from the cuffs of the political madness and vote for who you feel is the right person."

THE HISTORIC CAMPAIGN

"My movement to the chair of government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to his place of execution."

George Washington, in a remark made as he left Mount Vernon to assume the presidency on Feb. 4, 1789.

THAT LITTLE 3 PERCENT

As the days dwindle down to a precious few before the nation shows up at the polls, a few numbers of note have emerged from a significant Gallup tracking poll of 9,424 likely voters conducted Oct. 1-24. There's an emerging edge for Mitt Romney here: 49 percent of likely voters are Republican or lean that way, 46 percent are Democrat, or lean that way. Four years ago, the numbers were 42 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

In the hair-splitting division, 36 percent are solid Republican, 35 percent Democrat and 29 percent independent. Four years ago, those numbers were 29 percent Republican, 39 percent Democrat and 31 percent independent.

THE MICHELLE SHOW

Should President Obama lose the election, there's a possibility that first lady Michelle Obama could emerge as a talk show host. She's at home there; it is a comfortable milieu, and no wonder. Mrs. Obama has made multiple appearances on ABC's "The View," CBS "Late Night with David Letterman and the syndicated "Ellen DeGeneres." She been on camera with celebrity chefs, muppets, Oprah Winfrey.

"If she were not going to be in the White House, I'd love to have her as the host of a show. She's amazing," says Hilary Estey McLoughlin -- president of Telepictures Productions and the syndication company behind Ms. DeGeneres daytime chatfest -- in a conversation with TV Guide.

"I don't think she would do it. When you're in a position such as first lady, you've reached the pinnacle. When you really can make a difference in the world, you're not going to want to be tied to a syndication schedule," counters a TV agent who has done business with many Washington figures.

"Of course, there is still a chance she may spend four more years in her current job. Check back with us on Nov. 7," TV Guide advises.

POLL DU JOUR

• 88 percent of U.S. voters supporting Mitt Romney definitely plan to vote on Tuesday; 83 percent of voters supporting President Obama plan to do so.

• 82 percent of Romney voters have given " a lot of thought" to the election; 78 percent the Obama voters have done so.

• 66 percent of Romney voters are following campaign news very closely; 60 percent of Obama voters do so.

• 47 percent of all likely U.S. voters support President Obama; 6 percent of Republicans, 94 percent of Democrats, 40 percent of independents, 23 percent of conservatives and 89 percent of liberals agree.

• 47 percent of all likely voters support Mitt Romney; 92 percent of Republicans, 5 percent of Democrats, 48 percent of independents, 74 percent of conservatives and 6 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey of 2,008 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 24-28.

Cat calls, neighs, yeas and nays to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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