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Inside the Beltway: Martha’s Vineyard tail numbers

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

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Succinct commentary from far beyond the proverbial Beltway often trumps insider hubbub, particularly when presidents go on vacation. The first family is presumably counting down the days until they can achieve escape velocity from the nation's capital and spend eight days on sparkling Martha's Vineyard in mid-August. President Obama, his wife and daughters will relax in the 5,000-square-foot luxury home of a Chicago-based finance manager, with an entourage of 70 or so security personnel and staffers in accommodations elsewhere.

But look closer, urges one of the locals. Study the aircraft that arrive at Martha's Vineyard Airport.

"If the media were watchdogs instead of lapdogs, they would look up the tail numbers and registrations of all the private jets at the airport during the president's visit, and then we might know at least a few of the people who have audience with him," says local resident Michael F. Fontes, in a letter to the editors of The Martha's Vineyard Times.

"The Obamas do not come to this island for the sea, salt air, or to play golf. They come here, like their predecessors, the Clintons, because this island has become the summer sandbox of some of their wealthiest supporters, and these are individuals who can write checks starting with any number they please, followed by a substantial rank and file of zeros," Mr. Fontes concludes.

THREE DUELING HILLARYS

"Hillary" is not the only Hillary Rodham Clinton-fueled film now in production. There are three. Lest we forget, "Rodham" is also underway. CNN, meanwhile, has commissioned an unnamed feature-length documentary on Mrs. Clinton, which perhaps should be called "Mrs. Clinton" or "HRC" or even "Hill," now that all the other names are taken. The point man is Academy Award-winning director/producer Charles Ferguson, who waxed about the former secretary of state on Monday, saying her life and work "embody so many of America's, and the world's, hopes and challenges."

Yeah, well.

All three projects appear to burnish heroic portrayals of Mrs. Clinton at pivotal times in her life. All will be flashed before the public in the golden window of 2014-15, as the presidential race ignites and the campaigns compete for public attention.

There are differences, though. "Hillary" is a four-hour miniseries that focuses on 1998 to 2011 as the heroine morphs from the first lady who warned of a "vast right wing conspiracy" to senator to presidential hopeful to diplomat. It will air on NBC as a special broadcast event.

"Rodham" is a feature-length independent film destined for theatrical release, showcasing a young Hillary Rodham before she met a certain young man from Arkansas. Advance peeks at the working script revealed there are some lovey-dovey moments between a 26-year-old Miss Rodham and 27-year-old Bill Clinton. Screenwriter Young Il Kim already has downplayed the media obsession with romance, however. "I didn't write '50 Shades of Rodham,'" he told The Daily Telegraph.

CNN, meanwhile, promises "a comprehensive look at the professional and personal life of one of the most powerful women in American politics," to premiere in 2014 with a theatrical run prior to airing on the news network.

THE ROLE OF ENROLL AMERICA

The campaign to make Americans fall in love with, trust and celebrate Obamacare is just getting started; the nation must endure some $684 million worth of advertising as the big feel-good campaign gets rolling. Also now registering on the public radar: Enroll America, a Washington-based nonprofit charged with informing the populace about the glories of the Affordable Care Act, specifically targeting the "best practices" for navigating new insurance protocols and the dreaded "enrollment gap."

Not so fast, say some critics.

Cause of Action, a government accountability watchdog, filed a complaint before the Internal Revenue Service on Monday asking the federal agency to revoke the charitable status of Enroll America. The complaint alleges that the organization has been improperly classified as a 501(c)(3) organization and therefore is in violation of the Internal Revenue Code. It's more trade association, the complaint says, out to help pharmaceutical and insurance companies and other for-profit entities while "employing marketing and political tactics" to peddle health insurance.

"If Enroll America is designed to benefit insurance companies instead of the American public, then its charitable status no longer applies," says Dan Epstein, executive director of the watchdog group. "An organization that has been granted tax-deductible status but is actually depriving the American people of taxable revenue warrants an investigation."

PLEASE REPORT ON THE IRS

Why don't the news media cover the IRS scandal anymore? High-profile conservatives including Rush Limbaugh and David Bossie already have complained that scant coverage has dwindled down to no coverage of the federal agency's targeted interest in the tax-exempt status of certain conservative groups. The 26-member coalition has some Capitol Hill help.

Republican Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota have joined their cause, along with 160 tea party leaders from around the nation who demand "constant, merciless scrutiny" of the IRS matter.

Royal infants get way more attention. A Media Research Center analysis found that ABC, CBS and NBC devoted 187 minutes to cover the birth of bonnie Prince George during a three-day period last week. But wait. In 75 days, they gave the IRS matter 157 minutes, even as new questions about improper use of funds, large bonuses and other irregularities in the agency surfaced.

"President Obama and his squawking parrots in the liberal media are calling the IRS scandal 'phony,' and the networks have scrubbed it from their broadcasts. But the everyday Americans targeted by this historic abuse of power don't think it's phony," declares Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center.

"This very real, very damaging political scandal is creating a massive credibility problem not only for the IRS, but for the networks who refuse to report it," he says.

And among his 25 allies: American Values President Gary L. Bauer, Conservative HQ founder Richard Viguerie, Concerned Women for America President Penny Nance, Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, Reagan historian Craig Shirley, the Rev. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, and the American Family Association's Tim Wildmon.

POLL DU JOUR

57 percent of Americans say that "a good woman is hard to find"; 50 percent of women and 63 percent of men agree.

55 percent of Americans overall say a "bold and experienced woman" is the most desirable; 56 percent of women and 54 percent of men agree.

39 percent overall say "being a good mother" is the most important quality for a woman to have; 39 percent of woman and 38 percent of men agree.

33 percent overall say "brains" is the most important quality; 35 percent of woman and 30 percent of men agree.

33 percent say a "sweet and innocent" woman is most desirable; 29 percent of women and 37 percent of men agree.

17 percent overall say a sense of humor is the most desirable feminine quality; 17 percent of women and 18 percent of men agree.

Source: A CBS "60 Minutes"/Vanity Fair poll of 1,017 U.S. adults conducted June 12 to 16 and released Monday.

Squawks and squeaks to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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