- The Washington Times - Friday, January 23, 2004

Dennis Miller — remembers the days when he would walk down Ventura Boulevard and see every storefront television set tuned to ESPN. Today, those same sets blast images from all-news channels.

Enter Mr. Miller, the undisputed king of the arcane reference, into the clogged word of political talking heads.

The comedian kept his urbane wit partially corralled Wednesday Jan. 21 during a soiree for his new CNBC talk show at the District’s Occidental Restaurant.

The weekday talkfest, which debuts Monday Jan. 26 at 9 p.m., promises the comic’s cerebral take on politics and entertainment headlines.

Pundits and scribes alike have noted Mr. Miller’s turn toward the conservative side in recent years, though he claims to borrow ideals from both sides of the political aisle.

“I’m pretty reasonable in my beliefs,” he said, but the September 11 attacks altered his worldview toward a more hawkish approach.

“Nine-11 really changed my mind. It’s a big thing to me,” Mr. Miller noted.

The man who some say fumbled his way out of ABC’s “Monday Night Football” booth doesn’t mind being labeled a “shrieking pro-war hawk” by Entertainment Weekly for his change of political heart.

“They can say what they want,” Mr. Miller said, doing his best impersonation of a politician while shaking hands with well-wishers.

He might be to the right of, say, uberliberal Rob Reiner, but he’ll happily break bread with the erstwhile Meathead. To hear Mr. Miller tell it, the old saw that liberal Hollywood blacklists conservative actors doesn’t hold up.

“I find a lot of that paranoia to be trumped up,” he said. “We agree to disagree.”

Among the familiar talk-show faces attending the party, and possibly jockeying for slots on future “Miller” shows, were Arizona Sen. John McCain, GOP strategist Mary Matalin, pollster Kellyanne Conway, “Today Show” national correspondent Jamie Gangel and Motion Picture Association of America, President Jack Valenti.

“You need to laugh at politics some time,” said Mr. Valenti, among the first to congratulate the former “Saturday Night Live” standout.

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist said today’s voters get a fair share of their news from late-night comics, so it’s only natural to see Mr. Miller enter the fold.

Besides, conservatives should delight in seeing someone of Mr. Miller’s comic credentials embrace at least some of their views.

“He’s shown you can be counterculture without being anti-American,” Mr. Norquist said.

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