John McCaslin

Infiltrating Iraq

You might call him the "Borat" of the Iraq war.

In much the same way British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen , posing as a fictional Kazakh journalist, filmed his way through an unsuspecting United States, Mike Shiley , 39, of Portland, Ore., made a fake ABC News press pass at Kinko's, rented a bulletproof vest, traveled to Iraq, embedded himself with a U.S. tank combat unit and won a civilian combat medal.

A feature documentary about his amazing experience, "Inside Iraq: The Untold Stories," is being released on DVD on May 15. A far cry from the mockumentary Mr. Cohen produced, "Inside Iraq" has been screened at more than a dozen film festivals, four of which awarded it "best documentary."

"What you're going to feel when you see this film is that for once you have not been lied to or spun," Mr. Shiley tells Inside the Beltway. "The beauty of this film is that I did not have the resources to be biased, I didn't have enough money to do a spin job. I showed it as it is."

Meaning the film, distributed by Passion River Films, doesn't lean left or right, he says: "Everybody wants you to be Michael Moore and Bill O'Reilly . I'm right in the middle of it — it's balanced."

Mr. Shiley is a ski instructor for the disabled when not making independent films. His production about Hurricane Katrina, "Dark Water Rising," was recently selected by the Smithsonian Institution to be part of its permanent collection on the devastating storm.

Monkey business

House Democratic leaders are being criticized by Rep. Ted Poe , Texas Republican, for caring more about monkeys than members of the U.S. military.

Mr. Poe calls "absurd" the House's pre-midnight authorization this week of a project to study the sex lives of the Phayre's leaf monkey. Meanwhile, he said, "our troops in Iraq are running out of money to fight the bad guys" because of a determined, if not "ignorant," group of Democratic leaders that he labels the "congressional surrender group."

535 comedians

Regarding our item this week about Brian J. Kennedy , press secretary to House Minority Leader John A. Boehner , Ohio Republican, alerting late-night talk-show hosts Jay Leno, David Letterman and Conan O'Brien to the latest congressional shenanigans, we are reminded of this quote from Will Rogers:

"Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke."

$5 Josie

Yes, Virginia, there is life after politics.

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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