John McCaslin

Gipper's spirit

That was Jim Nelson, DeMatha Catholic High School graduate-turned-editor-in-chief of GQ magazine, paying tribute in Georgetown last night to the "50 Most Powerful People in D.C."

"Jim Nelson is very politically oriented, and he's moving the magazine in a direction that devotes a large section to political stories, Washington stories," says longtime Washington newspaper and magazine writer Chuck Conconi, who is now senior counselor of Qorvis Communications. "He understands this is the power base for the country, and he wants to have a greater presence here.

"For instance, GQ had a major exclusive today, the first interview Donald Rumsfeld has given since he left the Pentagon. He gave it to Lisa DePaulo, and it's pretty significant that GQ got it."

As for the 50 most powerful Washingtonians, saluted in spirit if not in person at Cafe Milano, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is on the top of GQ's list, which includes the usual political suspects like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. Interestingly enough, the late Ronald Reagan also is found on the list of the 50 most influential people, given the continued popularity of his guiding principles.

And yes, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder made the cut, too, considering the significant power he wields around town. And for once he's in the mood to celebrate, given his football team's season-opening overtime win against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.


'Cattle show'

Speaking of Ronald Reagan, much was made of the fact that 2008 presidential contender and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson skipped last week's Republican debate in New Hampshire in order to hang out instead with Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show."

Now, Alexandria-based public relations executive Craig Shirley calls our attention to his upcoming book on Mr. Reagan's 1980 campaign, titled "Rendezvous With Destiny."

In January 1980, or so Mr. Shirley recalls, the Des Moines Register newspaper sponsored a similar debate featuring each of the Republican candidates, save one who derided it as a "cattle show." Speaking for the group, then-Kansas Sen. Bob Dole said, "Ronald Reagan, wherever you are, I hope you are having fun."

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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