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Inside the Beltway: Cheney double feature

Question of the Day

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

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A political and cultural moment of note: former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz Cheney, will appear at the fifth annual Freedom Conference this weekend in Steamboat Springs, Colo. It's all courtesy of the esteemed and feisty Steamboat Institute, a grass-roots organization that counts fiscal conservatism, lower taxes and a strong national defense among its founding principles.

"The format is unique," Chairman Jennifer L. Schubert-Akin tells Inside the Beltway. "Liz Cheney will actually interview her father. They are going to have an authentic, wide-ranging conversation about what's really happening in the world."

Ms. Cheney is in the middle of a campaign for the U.S. Senate seat in Wyoming, so it should be interesting.

Also on the list of speakers: Heritage Foundation fellow for national security affairs Peter Brooks; Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy; Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Institute; plus a half dozen Colorado sheriffs who headline a forum called "The Truth About Gun Control."

AL JAZEERA AMERICA AND THE GOP

"Al Jazeera America's Republican lobbyists," reads a headline from eagle-eyed Russ Choma, an analyst with the Center for Responsive Politics, who recently pored over some lobbying disclosure statements to find evidence of GOP involvement with the Qatar-owned news network, which debuted Tuesday.

"Considering the negative perception some Americans have of the Arab news organization, the company might have been lucky to get its new effort off the ground at all — and at least some credit likely goes to K Street, including former Sen. Mike Castle, Delaware Republican," Mr. Choma says.

There was opposition to the network, from, among others, Michael Mukasey, who served as attorney general in the George W. Bush administration. He called for congressional hearings over the possibility of a foreign company controlling U.S. media.

"It's not exactly clear what Al Jazeera's new lobbying team talked about on the Hill — the filings all vaguely describe 'informational communications regarding client's cable television channel' — but no hearings materialized and lawmakers generally seemed to have little to say about the issue," Mr. Choma continues.

Mr. Castle, who left office two years ago, works at DLA Piper, a lobbing firm, and was one of 11 lobbyists Al Jazeera America consulted, from four different firms. The network paid lobbying firms at least $240,000, of which $220,000 went to DLA Piper.

"Along with Castle, Al Jazeera also brought on former GOP congressional staffers Mark Paoletta and Laurie Purporo," adds Mr. Choma, also noting that from January through June 2013, MSNBC parent company Comcast Corp. spent $9.5 million lobbying; Time Warner Cable, which owns CNN, $3.8 million; and 21st Century Fox, the company that includes FOX News, $245,000.

FOR THE LEXICON

"Buscapade"

— President Obama's two-day bus trip to four towns in Pennsylvania and New York, with entourage, in a tweet from CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller, who also noted in a later dispatch that on this trip, Mr. Obama "didn't mention 'phony scandals', which used to be part of his distractions/posturing swipe."

DIGGING IN THE BOOT HEELS

"Facts mean little to a politicized Justice Department bent on inserting itself into the sovereign affairs of Texas and a lame-duck administration trying to turn our state blue," declares Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, after news that Attorney General Eric H. HolderJr. had sued the Lone Star State, seeking to overturn its voter ID laws.

"As Texans we reject the notion that the federal government knows what's best for us. We deserve the freedom to make our own laws and we deserve not to be insulted by a Justice Department committed to scoring cheap political points," says Mr. Cornyn, who is a former attorney general of Texas.

COCKTAILS WITH CHRISTIE

Analysts continue to wonder whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a blessing or curse to the Republican Party.

"The problem for him is that almost nothing he's done to win New Jersey can translate into a winning national Republican candidacy, let alone one that conservatives could in any way trust," declares American Spectator editorial director Wlady Pleszczynski.

"Christie's explosions have redounded to the benefit of conservatives, blowing apart New Jersey's Democrat establishment and creating a new political paradigm in one of the nation's bluest states. Christie may be a neutron bomb, but he's our neutron bomb," counters Matt Purple, assistant managing editor of the same publication.

Many soon will gather to fete and fund the aforementioned neutron bomb, however.

It portends to be a glittering affair: that would be a re-election fundraiser this weekend for Mr. Christie, which has drawn some fancy star power. Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani leads the list of folks who will journey to the oceanfront home of Clifford Sobel — U.S. ambassador to Brazil during the George W. Bush administration — way out on the more picturesque stretches of Long Island. The two-hour, sold-out cocktail event commanded a modest entry fee of $3,800. Per person.

Also on hosting duty: Nick Loeb, a former Florida state Senate hopeful who once described himself as a "Teddy Roosevelt Republican," who has made much hay in his own right by manufacturing delectable toasted onion treats and is engaged to actress Sofia Vergara. Also on cordiality duty: Mr. Loeb's father John Langeloth Loeb, Jr. former U.S. ambassador to Denmark.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: 1 Main Street, Brooklyn, N.Y. Three bedroom, four bath Brooklyn penthouse, built 1914, renovated 2011; 6,813 square feet, three floors. Four 14-foot clock tower windows with clocks, 16- to 50-foot ceilings, 360 degree views of East River and Manhattan skyline; 22-foot kitchen island, white lacquer cabinetry, sandstone and steel counters, white oak plank floors, three-story glass-walled elevator and upper "crows nest," floating staircase. "Now reduced to $18 million," say the realtors at Corcoran.com

POLL DU JOUR

• 67 percent of eligible black voters turned out in the 2012 presidential election.

• 64 percent of eligible white voters and 48 percent of eligible Hispanic voters also turned out.

• 63 percent of Americans say blacks and whites "get along pretty well"; 69 percent of whites, 57 percent of blacks and 48 percent of Hispanics agree.

• 20 percent of Americans overall say blacks and whites do not get along; 16 percent of whites, 25 percent of blacks and 35 percent of Hispanics agree.

• 13 percent of Americans overall say blacks and whites get along "very well"; 12 percent of whites, 16 percent of blacks and 12 percent of Hispanics agree.

Tip line always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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