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Runner-Up Maybe?

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

"Look at Hillary, she looks just like Miss America."

Or at least that's what Miss America 2008 Kirsten Haglund said when she glanced down at the program cover for the Washington Press Club Foundation's 64th annual Congressional Dinner on Wednesday night, which featured colorful caricatures of the 2008 presidential candidates, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton sporting a sparkling crown.


Everybody at the annual Congressional Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Washington was in hysterics when Bill Clinton's former White House aide-turned-Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat, spoke about the differences between then and now: "Back then, the words 'stimulus' and 'package' had a whole different meaning."

Crass and cruel

Reacted former President Bill Clinton: "It was representative of the kind of blatant, careless, crass, cruel remarks that are altogether too common."

He was not referring to Rep. Rahm Emanuel's comments Wednesday night, rather he was addressing MSNBC correspondent David Shuster's earlier televised remark that his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, was being "pimped out" by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign.

Mr. Clinton told WMAL-630 AM talk-show host Chris Plante this week that if Mr. Shuster, who was handed a suspension by the network, had "made a racial slur against [Senator Barack Obama], he would have been fired."

Pass the gun

You'll recall Benjamin Franklin's familiar saying that nothing in this world is certain except death and taxes.

Well, one medical doctor-turned-congressman is now saying that "sometimes death even seems a little less complicated than our tax system."

Republican Rep. Michael C. Burgess, who is calling for a simple flat tax, worked as a doctor in Denton County, Texas, for more than 25 years — following in the footsteps of his physician father, Dr. Tim Burgess — and apart from all of the mending he accomplished he delivered more than 3,000 babies before heading to Congress in 2003.

Good old days

Recalling what first brought her to Washington, we reached Republican national political strategist Cheri Jacobus and asked her about Maryland Rep. Wayne Gilchrest's lopsided defeat by conservative state Sen. Andrew Harris in this week's Republican primary.

"Naturally, I've been reminiscing," Miss Jacobus told us. "After graduating from the American Campaign Academy [Newsweek dubbed it the West Point of politics] in 1988 and packing up all my worldly belongings in the back of my old Mustang hatchback — I had been a campaign manager for a congressional primary in Iowa — I made my way back across the country to Maryland's Eastern Shore to be Wayne Gilchrest's campaign manager."

And how does being a campaign manager differ today from two decades ago?

"It was unglamorous. He didn't have a campaign headquarters or even enough money to pay me for a week," she recalls. "No phones, no stationery, no staff. Back then, fax machines were just starting to be used but we didn't have one, and there was no e-mailing, so press releases were sent out the old-fashioned way — with volunteers stuffing the envelopes and stamping them. We had no consultants, no PAC money, no polls."

During that year's election, Mr. Gilchrest came within a few hundreds votes of defeating then-incumbent Democratic Rep. Roy Dyson, but the Republican, a former Vietnam platoon leader decorated with the Purple Heart, easily won the seat two years later and held it ever since.

Worthy of Congress

Congress this week allowed New York Rep. Charles B. Rangel the honor "to throw the full weight of my endorsement behind a resolution of substantial import and consequence."

He was referring to the New York Giants' come-from-behind 17-14 Super Bowl win against the previously undefeated New England Patriots "that left the sports world simultaneously stunned and elated."

"This upset was no ordinary win," noted Mr. Rangel, "facing a team dead set on making history."

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