- The Washington Times - Monday, January 3, 2005

Harvest season

In advance of the 109th Congress, which commences at noon today, House Republican Study Committee Chairman Sue Myrick of North Carolina is reminding fellow congressmen who sit in the majority of something Will Rogers once said: “You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes because that’s where the fruit is.”

Roller coaster

Michael Briggs, press secretary to former vice presidential candidate and now-retired Sen. John Edwards, couldn’t have phrased his farewell note any better: “As we prepare to close Senator Edwards’ offices, we didn’t want to leave without saying thanks to the North Carolina press corps and to reporters from other places who took an interest in the senator during the past six years. It’s been quite a ride.”

Nowhere is safe

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, recently returned from his second fact-finding mission to Iraq, this latest with a small group of fellow members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including committee chairman Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican; ranking member Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat; and Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat.

It was during a private meeting at the offices of interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi that Mr. Allawi told the senators to move their chairs away from the window — for fear an insurgent sniper might take aim at the American scalps.

‘Mr. Romance’

While most of Washington was on holiday, Washington political pollster Frank Luntz was expanding his horizons — toward Hollywood and points east.

On the former front, he’ll be appearing in an upcoming episode of MTV’s comedy series “Damage Control,” playing a political media consultant shilling for a somewhat disreputable candidate.

He also has an on-camera role in the Oxygen network reality series “Mr. Romance,” this time playing himself leading a dial focus group designed to tell men what language to use to woo women. Both shows are expected to air next month.

Mr. Luntz has recently appeared in front of international cameras as well. “The Ambassador,” the highest-rated show on Israeli television, featured the pollster in a Donald Trump-like role, intimidating eight would-be Israeli ambassadors by barking out real-life questions and demanding real-life answers. A second “Ambassador” episode with Mr. Luntz will be filmed later this month in New York.

On a more serious note, based on exit polling conducted for ICTV, Mr. Luntz joined with Democrat pollster Doug Schoen on national Ukrainian television to declare Viktor Yushchenko the winner of the almost-deadly presidential contest in Ukraine.

Their announcement came at exactly at 8 p.m., just as the polls were closing, essentially making Mr. Luntz and Mr. Schoen the first to announce the Yushchenko victory in the first truly free Ukrainian national elections.

No rest for weary

Somewhere between the conventions, elections, New Year’s Eve and inaugural balls, we thought Washington partygoers were going to get a break. Think again.

Washington publicist Janet Donovan and political analyst Craig Crawford are once again throwing their “Non-Partisan, Pre-Inaugural Bash” for 200 guests at Teatro Goldoni tomorrow evening.

Expect the unexpected: Last year, political satirist Mark Russell engaged the crowd with his latest renditions; Jay Coupe belted out some Italian opera; Washington Post film critic Desson Thomson came with his band Cairo Fred; and Congressional Quarterly’s Mike Mills engaged in a spontaneous gig at the piano. Just about anyone who had the nerve to sing, did.

The media-heavy crowd will include the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, U.S. News & World Report’s Washington Whispers’ Paul Bedard, Westwood One radio talk-show host Jim Bohannon, Time magazine’s Margaret Carlson, Marion Burros of the New York Times and the Hotline’s Vaughn Ververs.

More importantly, there will be the eclectic mix of Washingtonians, including publicist Raymone Bain, of late spokesman for embattled entertainer Michael Jackson.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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