- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2005

When in Washington

What on earth were Christie Hefner, chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises, Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, and Democratic Reps. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. of Illinois and Ellen O. Tauscher of California, brainstorming about over breakfast at La Colline yesterday?

Mrs. Hefner, accompanied by her husband, former Illinois state senator Billy Marovitz, joked that she came to Capitol Hill in search of Playboy’s next celebrity guest photographer, an assignment happily filled most recently by Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman.

In truth, it was just a friendly get-together of old friends, Mrs. Hefner tells Inside the Beltway, and the conversation soon turned to what everybody else talks about when in Washington — who will run for president in the next election and, more importantly, can they win?

The overall consensus: Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s bid for the White House continues in earnest; Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s biggest obstacle to bunking again in the White House is the man who took her there in the first place, husband and former President Bill Clinton; Arizona Sen. John McCain has every intention of winning the 2008 Republican nomination; Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush is youthful enough that he would be in a better position to run for president in 2012; and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is not “political” enough to campaign for the nation’s highest office. (However, look for her to vie for a California Senate seat, predicts Miss Tauscher.)

Just as the give-and-take was getting intriguing, Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen excused herself from the table, explaining to amused Democrats that she had to keep a previously scheduled appointment with fellow “members of the white, Christian party.”

Bigger question

President Bush traveled this week to Pennsylvania to speak at Penn State about Social Security reform. And there to greet him at the university’s airport it turns out, was Penn State’s legendary football coach, Joe Paterno.

“And so I said, ‘Why don’t you ride over to the college campus with me here, the university campus. I need a briefing on what’s going on,’ ” Mr. Bush recalled. “And Joe Paterno kindly agreed to travel with me.

“I said, ‘Let’s talk football.’ He said, ‘Why don’t you tell me what’s going on in Washington?’ ”

Foreign affairs?

A notice posted at the State Department draws attention to eight national minority organizations that are holding 2005 annual conferences and training programs that bureaucrats might want to attend on the taxpayers’ dime.

One department official tells this column that State will likely pay “thousands of dollars for conference fees, airfares, hotels and meals. The funding is provided by different bureaus at the State Department.”

The 2005 conferences and host cities include: Federal Asian Pacific American Council, Arlington; League of United Latin American Citizens, Little Rock, Ark.; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Milwaukee; National Council of La Raza, Philadelphia; Federally Employed Women Inc., Reno, Nev.; Blacks-in-Government, Orlando, Fla.; National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives, San Antonio; and the National Congress of American Indians in Tulsa, Okla.

To the source

PBS has taken Jeff Tunks, renowned chef of DC Coast, TenPenh and Ceiba restaurants in Washington, all the way to Iceland in search of wild lamb.

“[W]e take the nation’s very best chefs out to the source of their ingredients to find out where their food comes from,” explains creator-producer Heidi Hanson of Chefs A’ Field, which begins its second season on PBS this summer. “On the series, we meet the farmers and fishermen and get to the roots of our food sources.”

Helgi Agustsson, Iceland’s ambassador to the United States, recently hosted a sneak preview of the PBS episode featuring Mr. Tunks at his residence on Kalorama Road Northwest, serving guests traditional Icelandic treats.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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