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Chad's Return

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Maybe — the emphasis here being on the word maybe — Christine Jennings will finally concede defeat now that the Government Accountability Office says it, too, couldn't find anything wrong with the touch-screen voting machines used by Sarasota County, Fla., voters in the November 2006 congressional election.

But don't hold your breath.

"One year and four independent investigations later, Christine Jennings is still whining about her loss to Rep. Vern Buchanan," the National Republican Congressional Committee noted in recent days. And now her campaign is upset because last Friday's lengthy GAO report on the working voting machines was released to the Washington press corps "prematurely."

Meanwhile, in an editorial on Sunday, the Bradenton (Fla.) Herald newspaper called on Miss Jennings, a Democrat who lost to the Republican Mr. Buchanan by 369 votes, to drop her electronic-voting complaints.

"We're all set for a Buchanan-Jennings grudge match, coming to a voting booth near you in November," the editors point out. "This time, though, with paper ballots. Hanging chads, anyone?"

Cheers to D.C.

Ex-baseball player and "Cheers" bartender Sam Malone — OK, veteran actor Ted Danson — is one of Congressional Quarterly's notable guests for tomorrow night's Washington Press Club Foundation annual Congressional Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Washington.

Of course, we find the usual politicos at CQ's tables: Reps. Joe L. Barton of Texas, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida, Diana DeGette of Colorado, and Dave Camp of Michigan, as well as former Kansas congressman turned Motion Picture Association of America President Dan Glickman, who will no doubt be interested in learning more about Mr. Danson's home-brewed (the actor lives in Oxford, Miss.) organic scotch, "Danson's Best."

And for some reason, we always notice that CQ somehow manages to host the newly crowned Miss America — this year, classic blonde and former Miss Michigan Kirsten Haglund, a 19-year-old aspiring Broadway star who sang "Over the Rainbow" (and wore one heck of a gold-accented black bikini) to clinch the title.

Souled out

We've just finished reading syndicated columnist and Georgetown University professor E.J. Dionne's new book with the clever title "Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith & Politics After the Religious Right."

Or, phrased differently, reclaiming religion and politics in a post-George W. Bush world.

Mr. Dionne opines that the era of the Religious Right is over, collapsed owing to the country's exhaustion with a religious style of politics that has been excessively dogmatic, partisan and ideological.

"The Christian Right is, finally, an abstraction. Millions of committed Christians," he writes, "are rethinking not so much their politics as the public implications of their faith. They are growing impatient with narrow agendas as they reach out to the poor in Africa and in their own communities, as they worry about the obligation to stewardship of the earth, as they grapple with practical ways to reduce the number of abortions, and as they struggle to approach gay friends and relatives in a spirit that is consistent with being Christian."

And it's not just the Religious Right getting caught up in the winds of tolerance, passion and humility.

"Liberals are changing, too," Mr. Dionne points out. "They are realizing that bigotry against people of faith is still bigotry."

In closing, he says: "We must realize that self-righteousness is the enemy of righteousness."

Mixed company

Speaking of political tolerance, it would behoove every Washingtonian to enroll in a 400-level government course being taught at Georgetown University this spring titled "Politics in Mixed Company."

Professor Carin Robinson's three-credit class examines the worth of political disagreement — and its potential dangers — for American democracy. As she points out, the Founders of the United States envisioned that the collision of competing ideas and values through conversation would bring about stability, political tolerance and the common good.

Which, of course, hasn't always been the case. As in today.

Dialogue in the class examines political disagreement, opposing viewpoints, dissenting opinions, racial conflict, partisanship, mud-slinging, name calling — need we go on?

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