- The Washington Times - Monday, January 16, 2006

Who’s a nerd?

Who said brainy types in Washington walk around in thick-rimmed glasses wearing calculators on their belts?

Rest assured, they unwind. And in ways you might not expect.

We’ve just finished reading the January 2006 “Official Newsletter of Metropolitan Washington Mensa” — the international society of persons who have scored above the 98th percentile on a standard IQ test. Get a load (no pun intended) of one of this month’s intriguing Mensa events, as featured in the newsletter:

“January is ‘full auto’ month. This month only we will be at Select-Fire in Glen Burnie, Md., which is between Baltimore and D.C. Semi and full auto UZIs, MK5s, Stens & Thompsons are available for around $45 each and come with between 90 and 96 rounds in three pre-loaded magazines, which can go pretty fast. Additional pre-loaded magazines cost $15. Select-Fire also rents other firearms. Wheelchair accessible. Free parking. Be sure to bring an extra pair of underwear.”

Outdoes Abramoff

Inside the Beltway has been relaying updates, as they stream in, of the Political Derby 2008 Power Rankings, the first tracking service of its kind for the 2008 race to the White House.

On the Democrats’ track, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton holds on to a several-horse-length lead, which appears to be widening even further — or as the mystery jockey puts it in his tip sheet: “She leads every poll, and she’s raising money faster than Jack Abramoff at a Choctaw Tribe Family Reunion.”

Trailing Mrs. Clinton, in order, are Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The big development for Republicans: charging out front, having previously run third, is Virginia Sen. George Allen. Says the tip sheet: “News that uber political guru Ed Gillespie has joined, ‘Team Allen’ has given the Virginia senator a significant boost as the story carried well beyond just the Commonwealth.”

Meanwhile, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani falls to second, followed by Sen. John McCain (the jockey hears Mr. McCain has designs on riding the Abramoff lobbying scandal all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.), Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo.

Honoring King?

It would be difficult even for Democrats not to agree that, if anybody, Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele has lived Martin Luther King’s “legacy of service.”

His public service has been devoted to community involvement, pushing for greater economic opportunity for small and minority businesses as chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Minority Business Enterprise Reform.

He’s led the drive for better education and is a strong advocate for strengthening and preserving historically black colleges and universities, five of which are in Maryland.

Mr. Steele, who grew up in Washington, is likewise a religious man. He graduated from Archbishop Carroll High School, and spent three years as a seminarian in the Order of St. Augustine in preparation for the priesthood before finally pursuing a law degree.

But here’s where Mr. Steele and the black leadership part ways — and where politics, historically if not unfairly, has infringed on major accomplishments.

Few living the legacy of King celebrated in 2000 when Mr. Steele became the first black ever to be chairman of a state Republican Party. Nor did the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) tip its hat, surprising since Mr. Steele served on the NAACP’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Election Reform (and separately, the National Commission on Federal Election Reform).

Blacks in the mold of King should have rejoiced in 2003 when Mr. Steele became the highest-ranking black Republican elected official in the United States: the only black American lieutenant governor in the country.

Now, Mr. Steele seeks even higher office, as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Today, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, he’s been invited to speak at Bishop Harry Jackson’s Hope Christian Church in Lanham. His 1 p.m. address is titled “A Legacy of Service,” in tribute to King.

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

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