John McCaslin

"He's taken pictures with many of you." - White House spokesman Scott McClellan, responding yesterday to repeated questions by members of the White House press corps as to why former powerhouse lobbyist Jack Abramoff had his photo taken with President Bush -- as have several reporters, and on more than one occasion.


Hollywood's most politically active brother-and-sister pair - Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine - not only have family roots near Washington, they credit their Virginia upbringing for helping to motivate their political activism.

The February issue of Virginia Living magazine writes about Beatty's and MacLaine's Old Dominion roots (both were born in Richmond and attended Washington-Lee High School in Arlington), given that the former keeps appearing to position himself for a political move.

Don't hold your breath. In 1999, the outspoken Democrat and aging sex symbol - he soon turns 69 - made political waves by expressing his displeasure with party presidential hopeful Al Gore. The New York Times went so far as to say that the actor was considering throwing his hat into the presidential ring.

"There certainly should be someone better," Beatty said of then-Vice President Gore, who in the end lost to Republican George W. Bush.

After trashing Gore, Beatty turned his frustrations on fellow actor and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Indeed, the celebrity's commencement speech last summer to students of the University of California at Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy was more political than philosophical, described as a "blistering" attack on the Republican governor's job performance.

But in a recent interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Beatty downplayed his repeated political meddling as a precursor to running for public office.

"It's important for someone to stick their neck out and say, 'I'll be the antagonist.' I don't know how much I'll do, or at which point I will simply be obnoxious," he said. "But I would feel negligent if I didn't do this. I know that when I want to attract attention, I can. I've been nothing but honest in saying that I don't want to have to run for political office."

That said, when asked if a moment might come when feels he has to, Beatty replied, "(Y)ou've got to leave it open - never rule anything out."


VIP tickets were $1,000 each for Wednesday's Capitol Hill reception at the Phoenix Park Hotel in honor of Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume, former leader of the Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) of Northern Ireland; current SDLP leader Mark Durkan, and deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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