Forget about becoming a senator or congressman.
The key to the White House, or so recent history shows us, is hidden in a governor's mansion.
Consider former governors Jimmy Carter of Georgia, Ronald Reagan of California, Bill Clinton of Arkansas and George W. Bush of Texas - each bypassing the often-contentious Capitol Hill to reach the Oval Office.
Now, eager to retake the executive mansion in 2008, Democrats among other places are looking south - to Richmond and Virginia Democratic Gov. Mark Warner.
Asked about the national spotlight suddenly shining on Warner, a highly successful business entrepreneur who managed to steer a large tax overhaul through a Republican-dominated legislature - the first general tax increase in the state in nearly two decades - Virginia Rep. James P. Moran, a Democrat, gave The Beltway Beat a thumbs up.
Although he remains mum on his future, word is the 50-year-old Warner (no relation to Virginia senior Sen. John W. Warner), who is now beginning his final year as governor, could challenge Republican Sen. George Allen in 2006 - or solely concentrate on capturing the White House in 2008.
Asked about both scenarios, a beaming Moran flashed a double thumbs up.
NOT THIS TIME
"What's his name, Teddy Kennedy?"
- Julius Washington-Williams Jr., who was 19 years old when his mother, Essie Mae, confessed to her children that her biological father - and their grandfather - was white and a U.S. senator. Mrs. Washington-Williams, whose mother was black, tells her story for the first time in the forthcoming book, "Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond."
A panel of leading black religious conservatives will discuss the future of the black church vote as part of the executive conference of the National Clergy Council, which convenes after Sunday services at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington.
The panel says it will examine voting trends and sentiments among black church attendees and, more particularly, "how they are changing relative to key moral issues, such as abortion rights and same-sex relationships."
Among the panelists: the Rev. Johnny Hunter, founder and president of the Life Education and Resource Network (LEARN); the Rev. Kenneth Barney, senior pastor of the 5,000-member New Antioch Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md.; the Rev. Clenard H. Childress, director of LEARN; Phyllis Berry-Myers of the Center for New Black Leadership; the Rev. Luke Robinson of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; and Paulette Roseboro of the African American Life Alliance.
"Your recent articles about two cats named Colin Powell brought to mind California's most experienced hunter of vote fraud, who found that of pets registered to vote, cats tend to vote Republican and dogs tend to vote Democrat," observes Paul Sarvis of Elk Grove, Calif.
SWEARING IN CICERO
Whenever the topic turns to the nation's massive budget deficit, we turn to Sid Taylor, research associate for the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.
After all, nobody has more experience crunching numbers than Taylor, who is four months shy of his 91st birthday.
He quotes Cicero, circa 63 B.C.: "The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt."
"No matter how you say it, Cicero, the greatest Roman orator of 20 centuries ago, was right," concludes Taylor. "Imagine, Marcus Tullius Cicero sitting in the Oval Office. 'Vote Cicero and save your dough!'"
Once President Bush is sworn in to his second term, members of the Republican-controlled 109th Congress can get down to business - and serious debate.
"While this past election saw a Republican sweep of the House, Senate and White House, it again showed that we legislate over a divided country," Rep. Mark Souder, Indiana Republican, acknowledged during the 109th Congressional Bipartisan Prayer Service, reminding lawmakers "we need to exercise humility as we debate very contentious issues over the next two years."
A Notre Dame graduate, Souder said: "One of my favorite movies is 'Rudy,' about the University of Notre Dame. A priest tells Rudy that he only knows for certain that two things in life are true: 1) that there is a God; and 2) that it is not him."
President Bush will be delighted to know that the Red Hot Mamas, who are "dedicated to the exploitation of merriment and the enhancement of the ridiculous," will be marching for a second time in his inaugural parade.
These gaudy, wildly dressed, apron-wearing Mamas - everyday homemakers, waitresses, even teachers from Idaho - took Bush's first inauguration by storm while pushing their shopping carts along Pennsylvania Avenue's parade route.
"Go, Mamas!" shouted the highly impressed president, throwing the ladies kisses.
Not everybody can be a Mama.
First and foremost, one must possess a "genuine zest for life." After that, it helps to be more than 30, preferably "a mama, grandmama, a great-grandmama, or just plain great." (The Queen Mama is past her 80th birthday, but who's asking?)
"The inspirational double-amputee drum major is everyone's hero," notes one Mama.
Besides their shopping carts, navigated with drill-team precision, Mamas clad in bright-colored housedresses are outfitted with mops, strollers and milk jugs, topped off with a "grocery hat" made of cereal, cracker and detergent boxes.
And, yes, these Mamas can perform: spoofs like "The Blues Mothers" and "Riverprance," accompanied by musical selections like "We are Family," "YMCA" and "Wipeout," to name a few.
Besides Bush's inaugurals, the Mamas say their crowning glory was performing in London's New Year's Day Parade.
Christopher Ullman began whistling incessantly while delivering newspapers as a teenager. He then could be heard whistling while he worked on Capitol Hill.
Since we last wrote about him, Ullman has serenaded President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in the Oval Office, puckered with Katie Couric on "Today," whistled with Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show," performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, and brought the audience to its feet at B.B. King's club in Memphis, Tenn.
After all, he's been crowned the four-time national and international whistling champion. Today, he is the top-ranked pop whistler in the world.
His repertoire consists of classical, blues, jazz, rock and Broadway. Once, during the annual Labor Day Concert at the U.S. Capitol, he led the audience of 60,000 in mass whistling with orchestral accompaniment.
When he's not directing global communications for the Carlyle Group, one of the world's largest private equity firms headquartered on Pennsylvania Avenue, Ullman is whistling his way through myriad engagements, like early next month, when he'll perform Hummell's "Trumpet Concerto" with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota.
He also tells us he's just released his first CD, "The Symphonic Whistler," available at www.happywhistler.com, where you can listen to whistling sound bites like our favorite, "On the Mall."
TEA FOR TEN
Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who gained national prominence by refusing to obey an order to remove the 5,300-pound Ten Commandments monument that he had placed in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building - and ultimately was removed from the bench - is to share tea with first lady Laura Bush.
Actually, Moore will address the First Ladies' Inaugural Tea honoring LauraBush on Jan. 22, two days after the inauguration, at the Mayflower Hotel.
"I consider it an honor and a privilege," says Moore, author of the book "So Help Me God."
SHOW YOUR FACES
Forget about the next four years, Democratic strategist James Carville says the coming year is the most crucial for President Bush and Democrats alike.
"You and I both know how important a year 2005 is going to be," says Carville, who, because he's wedlocked to former top Bush aide Mary Matalin, probably will be partying alongside her fellow Republicans this coming inaugural week.
"George Bush and the Republicans are going for broke," he says. "They know that a second-term president has no more than 18 months to force his agenda through - and they won't waste a minute."
In the meantime, Carville cautions Democrats not to "swallow all of the Republicans' malarkey about 'the people have spoken' and go hide in a corner somewhere."
HAIR NOR HIDE
Winter's brisk temperatures are forecast to arrive in otherwise balmy Washington just in time for the presidential inaugural, thus President Bush had better don a warm hat.
"On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' members and supporters worldwide, I most respectfully ask that you reject the beaver-fur hat commissioned for the inauguration in favor of one made of something other than animal fur - perhaps a synthetic 'cowboy' hat that fits with the 21st century while giving a nod to American heritage," PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk writes to Bush.
Beavers, she notes, share in Bush's vision for America - supporting strong family values, mating for life and forming bonds with children.
"Not only do these animals epitomize family values, they are also industrious role models: They are master architects whose complex sturdy lodges last for years, and they constantly maintain their homes, taking obvious pride in their work. Beavers are even known to enjoy flute music," she adds.
After this item originally ran in my Washington Times column, Dick Spencer of Staunton, Va, declared, "Beavers also share Mr. Bush's vision for America by cutting trees and building dams on public lands. Can we expect PETA to come out in support of these activities?"
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat and White House aide under President Clinton, can't figure out why the Bush administration allows Canadian cattle in the U.S. market - despite the discovery of three cases of mad cow disease there - yet continues to say U.S. imports of Canadian drugs are unsafe.
"I am puzzled," Mr. Emanuel admits to Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson.
"Curiously, three known cases of mad cow disease are insufficient evidence to halt the opening of the U.S. market to Canadian cattle," he says. "But the fact that none of the millions of Americans who purchase prescription drugs from Canada have been harmed is not enough evidence for the administration to support the importation of prescription drugs."
The congressman questions whether the issue is really one of safety. He cites the timing of the U.S. announcement to open the beef market, which occurred just after the Canadian government announced a possible crackdown on drug exports.
Steve Gardner, a member of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, is getting legal and financial assistance from retired FBI agent and Clinton whistleblower Gary Aldrich, president of the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty.
Known as the "10th brother," Gardner was one of two men who refused to stand with Sen. John Kerry at the Democratic National Convention. After stressing his strong opposition to the Kerry candidacy, he reportedly suffered threats and insults and was mysteriously fired from his management job.
"I contacted Steve Gardner and offered my help," Aldrich tells us. "It's very important that when a whistleblower has the courage to reveal significant truth bearing on important decisions made by our countrymen, that that whistleblower is not punished and, at the end of the day, is no worse off for doing the right thing."