So, Brian Lamb, it's just been announced that you'll receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. What are you going to do now?
"Come back to work the next morning," the C-SPAN founder told Inside the Beltway yesterday, soon after President Bush announced this year's recipients for the nation's highest civilian award.
"This is a terrific honor for our entire place," said Mr. Lamb. "I've got 260 colleagues and 20 board members who never get a mention, so this is a shared reward."
Mr. Lamb said one of the great things about C-SPAN and its trademark live coverage of congressional proceedings is that viewers can "figure out on their own account" what is transpiring in government, without the interruption and commentary so often injected by TV news anchors and pundits."
"Don't get me wrong; I love the press. I love what newspapers do," he said. "And what TV [news channels] do is important, but you'd be surprised at how much one can grasp, figure out for themselves" simply by watching Congress in action.
Expect 2004 presidential runner-up Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to open up in a personal way about the propriety of public inquiry into a politician's religious beliefs during his appearance tomorrow in downtown Washington. A Roman Catholic with newly discovered Jewish roots, the Democrat drew criticism from the church during his campaign to unseat President Bush for being a so-called "cafeteria Catholic" — one who adheres to the Vatican's moral teachings that suit his or her lifestyle, while violating the rest.
At one point in the campaign, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke requested that Mr. Kerry abstain from Holy Communion. The senator, who it's been pointed out wore a rosary around his neck in Vietnam, assured voters: "I will be a president who happens to be Catholic, not a Catholic president."
Mr. Kerry says that he will also discuss the role of faith in presidential campaigns and his perspective on religion in the 2008 election when he addresses a lunchtime audience at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life at 1615 L Street NW. The forum takes place from noon to 1:30 p.m.
As we told you earlier this week, the highly unpopular 110th Congress, under the stewardship of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has overseen a mere 106 signed bills so far this year — 46 of which simply attached names to post offices, courthouses and roads.
"Why are you complaining that a Democratic Congress has not passed many laws?" writes patent lawyer and Inside the Beltway reader Jonathan Grant of Silver Spring. "Every time Congress passes a 'significant' law, it costs us taxpayers billions of dollars.
Let them "stick to naming post offices and highways after themselves and their relatives and friends," Mr. Grant wrote. "It's less taxing for them and us."
Federal Election Commission commissioners huddled yesterday to respond to a request from XM Satellite Radio on whether it can provide "free" and "unfiltered" airtime to presidential candidates on its new channel, POTUS '08.
Already a draft of an FEC advisory opinion, dated Oct. 26 and obtained by this column, concluded that XM's provision of free airtime to presidential candidates does in fact fall under the "press exemption" of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which nevertheless was enacted before anybody conceived of satellite radio and its wealth of channels.
District-based XM, which features more than 200 channels and more than 8 million subscribers, announced recently the launch of a 24-hour, commercial-free, national radio channel dedicated exclusively to the 2008 presidential election.
The FEC advisory explains that a separate and distinct part of POTUS '08 is to provide free airtime for presidential candidates or their representatives "to speak to voters," and those participating would have full "editorial control" over the message content.
Look for the free airtime to be offered to all presidential candidates who have qualified for the ballot in 10 or more states. They each would be allowed to broadcast up to five minutes per day during a specified one-hour time block.
Sing it, Dubya
There's a new birthday card on the market showing President Bush, white earphones in his ears, showing off a new IPod — or as this pretend presidential gadget is called, an "I-Pres."
Among the selections on the playlist: "Iraq Around the Clock," "Knockin' on Iran's Door," "Oil Fields Forever," and our favorite: "Cheney's Got a Gun."
John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .
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