- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 19, 2009

Diplomatic dining

President Obama is in China for a state visit this week, discussing pressing matters such as climate change, human rights and the economy with Chinese President Hu Jintao, but what does China’s minister and deputy chief of mission in Washington, Xie Feng, want the prez to put on his agenda as soon as he gets home?

A night at the museum - namely the National Geographic Museum.

Mr. Xie extended “an open invitation” Tuesday night for the president to see the museum’s “Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor,” which has been traveling the country and opens to the public Thursday.

Mr. Xie and his wife were among the guests at the exhibit’s gala opening. Mandarin-inspired decor, including Chinese lanterns and a huge cake in the shape of one of the warriors, put the crowd in the right mood before they went on early tours of the exhibit.

P.F. Chang’s, the popular Chinese restaurant chain usually found in suburban shopping malls, provided the eats for the evening, including fortune cookies, of course, but Mr. Xie told us he’d never heard of the place.

So where do you go to get some decent Chinese food in town, Mr. Xie?

“The restaurants in town cater to the local tastes, but I like the downtown restaurants, especially those in Chinatown, and Charlie Chiang’s,” he replied, slightly amused this was the extent of our foreign policy questions.

Later in the evening, Mr. Xie pulled us aside to tell us he had tasted the “chicken and noodles” from P.F. Chang’s buffet, and found them “really good.”

Mr. and Mrs. Xie can enjoy a date night of fine dining sometime soon, because the party’s swag bag included a $50 gift card to, yep, you guessed it, P.F. Chang’s.

Night at the movies

While the diplomatic crowd enjoyed a night at the museum, “Poliwood” was gathering across town for a night at the movies. Actresses and Creative Coalition members Wendie Malick and Alfre Woodard joined pols including Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey Democrat, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire Democrat, and Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi Republican, for a private Capitol Hill screening of “Vlast,” a film about the dubious incarceration of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly the wealthiest man in Russia.

On the day “Going Rogue” - former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s new book - was released, we wanted to ask Ms. Malick, who once worked for the late Jack Kemp, what he would have thought of Mrs. Palin’s public-relations strategy so far.

Calling Kemp, the Republican Party’s 1996 vice-presidential nominee, “a pragmatist,” Ms. Malick says he would advise the former Alaska governor to just “keep it real.”

But don’t go jumping to conclusions. This doesn’t mean the “Just Shoot Me!” star is one of the few Republicans in Hollywood. She recalled that she wore “a McGovern button” in her youth and only agreed to work for Kemp, then a New York congressman, because he was a family friend from her hometown of Buffalo.

“He told me if I ever wanted to come to Washington to give him a call.”

Although a loyal Dem, Ms. Malick praised her friend, who died earlier this year, and Mrs. Palin, whom she described as “tough” and a “spitfire.”

Book mark

Speaking of spitfires, we made the rounds at the National Press Club’s Annual Book Fair on Tuesday night, where we asked conservative commentator, author and columnist Ann Coulter, who was there to sign copies of her latest tome, “Guilty: Liberal ‘Victims’ and Their Assault on America,” if she has read Mrs. Palin’s memoir.

“I’ve just started it. It came out today, and it looks terrific!” Ms. Coulter said.

We also caught up with ABC News’ chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, who was autographing copies of his book, “The Madoff Chronicles: Inside the Secret World of Bernie and Ruth,” and asked about his favorite part of visiting the District.

“Just being here at the center of power, learning what people really are like and getting past the TV image.”

The belly of the beast, indeed

To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover,e-mail [email protected] tontimes.com.

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