Inside the Beltway: Chris Christie the noun

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Was it the blue-plate special or a bipartisan combo? The pairing of President Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got much play in the press after they appeared together Tuesday on behalf of the Garden State’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy — urging the public to venture to the seashore, spend money and enjoy themselves. Among the cuddly new designations for president and governor:

“The political odd couple” (Fox News, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, The Associated Press), “bromance” (The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor), “love-in” (The Weekly Standard), “just a couple of guys on a boardwalk” (USA Today).

Chris Christie,” meanwhile, has taken on a new definition, thanks to Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, who delivered his party’s most recent weekly address, with careful focus on the deadly tornado that struck his state last week.

“I intended to thank the schoolteachers, police officers and other citizens of Oklahoma who helped the victims of the tragedy. But I made clear I was not going to use the name ‘Barack Obama’ in any way,” Mr. Inhofe told Newsmax in the aftermath.

He recalled that the cordial relationship between the president and Mr. Christie following Superstorm Sandy was a boon to Democrats during the presidential race.

“I was not going to let the White House pull a ‘Chris Christie‘ on me,” Mr. Inhofe observed.

IF IT’S WEDNESDAY

Yes, if it’s midweek, there must be a fundraiser somewhere. Indeed. President Obama journeys to Chicago on Wednesday for a pair of big-money events for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, one at a swanky hotel, the other at a private residence. Of note: Ticket prices range from $1,000 to (drum roll please) $50,000.

THE MULTITASKING O'REILLY

Strategic alliances and hybrid partnerships are many in the news media these days. Witness Bill O'Reilly, who has joined up with National Geographic to produce “Killing Kennedy,” a film project based on the Fox News host’s best-selling book of the same name. It will air in autumn, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination, deemed a “daring, culturally significant television event” by National Geographic Channel President Howard T. Owens.

On tap to play Kennedy: that would be Rob Lowe, who once starred in NBC’s left-leaning prime time show “The West Wing” and who some observers say now leans conservative. But no matter.

Mr. O'Reilly — age 63 and already the author of 15 other books — has proven himself a viable storyteller of factual drama. National Geographic transformed “Killing Lincoln,” another of his books, and broadcast it three months ago before 3.4 million viewers, a record for the network. Next up: the adaptation of yet another upcoming O'Reilly work, “Killing Jesus,” to be published in September.

A fellow broadcaster marveled over Mr. O'Reilly’s many hats and compared him to another prolific author.

“I feel like Stephen King looks at you and says, ‘Slow down buddy.’ You reproduce books like you’re using a mold,” Comedy Central host Jon Stewart recently told him.

“They just keep coming,” Mr. O'Reilly replied.

Meanwhile, the restless pundit soon hits the road. He embarks Saturday on a sold-out, six-city “Bolder and Fresher” speaking tour with talk-radio host Dennis Miller.

OUT THERE

Does a certain space agency still have its 1960s-era space-age mojo intact? Maybe.

“NASA is looking for far-out ideas,” the agency points out in a solicitation for its Innovative Advanced Concepts program, which has so far yielded feasibility studies for “printable spacecraft,” along with a “landsailing” exploration rover for Venus.

“Creating technologies needed to keep our explorers — robotic and human — alive and well is a terrific challenge, and these transformative concepts have the potential to mature into the solutions that enable future missions,” explains Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology.

The agency expects to initiate five studies this year, and, amazingly enough, there’s funding afoot. Selected proposers will receive as much as $500,000. See more here: nasa.gov/niac.

CLASH OF THE COMMUNICATORS

Interesting how rival spokesmen monitor one another. Republican National Committee Communications Director Sean Spicer has looked askance on the recent doings of a counterpart.

“Some of you have already read Democratic National Committee Communications Director Brad Woodhouse’s desperate fundraising plea Friday in which he actually accused Republicans of ‘making up so-called scandals out of thin air.’ I don’t need to tell you all how bizarre that statement is,” Mr. Spicer declared in an open memo to journalists.

The now familiar trio of events centered on Benghazi, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service are not fiction, he said.

The Democratic Party is “either in denial or desperate. I’m not sure which is worse: pretending the gross incompetence and unaccountability displayed by the federal government is a farce, or attempting to distort these serious scandals for the sake of monetary gain,” Mr. Spicer added.

“Maybe the Democratic National Committee has decided that if they can’t defend their party, they’ll just deny reality. It’s sad and shameful. And I wish I were making this up.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 45 percent of Americans say they disliked the 2010 federal health care law when it passed, and “still” dislike it.

• 82 percent of Republicans, 78 percent of conservatives, 13 percent of Democrats and 10 percent of liberals agree.

• 66 percent of libertarians, 57 percent of independents and 41 percent of moderates also agree.

• 32 percent of Americans overall liked the law initially, and “still” like it.

• 5 percent of Republicans, 11 percent of conservatives, 60 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of liberals agree.

• 18 percent of libertarians, 15 percent of independents and 29 percent of moderates also agree.

• 7 percent overall have come to dislike the law over time; 4 percent have come to like it over time.

Source: A Reason/Rupe survey of 1,003 U.S. adults conducted May 9 to 13 and released Tuesday.

• Annoyed grunts, amused chortles to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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