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Go Figure

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

Indiana lawyer and Republican congressional candidate Tony Zirkle, who is defending a speech he made at a celebration of Adolf Hitler's birthday — "I'll speak before any group that invites me," he argues — has planned a trip to Washington this weekend to tape political ads at the U.S. Naval Academy and Georgetown University.

"I have a tentative trip planned to conduct some filming for future television political ads at schools where I attended and developed some of my political views," he explains on his campaign site.

Mr. Zirkle's resume says he was in the top 5 percent of his class during his two years at the Naval Academy before leaving to earn a bachelor's degree in foreign service from Georgetown University in 1995. He volunteered as an emergency medical technician at Georgetown University Hospital.

His campaign appearance, during which he stood before a portrait of Hitler, is being replayed in its entirety on numerous Internet sites, including AOL News.

The Indiana Republican primary is May 6.

Barr McCain

Former Republican congressman and rumored 2008 Libertarian Party candidate for president Bob Barr was seen huddling with pundits and leaders of various state-based center-right and libertarian think tanks and advocacy organizations at the Sheraton Atlanta on the eve of the Heritage Foundation's annual Resource Bank Meeting.

"No Republican, conservative or whatever should underestimate how fond we are of this guy and appreciate what it is he has done and is hopefully about to do," one well-known conservative attendee from Washington, who requests anonymity, tells Inside the Beltway.

"It's an 'in our hearts we know he's right' kind of thing. Very exciting — could be quite huge."

The Heritage Foundation's annual meeting begins today, gathering more than 500 think tank executives, public interest lawyers, policy experts and elected officials from around the world to discuss issues, strategies and methods for advancing free-market, limited-government public policies.

Willis who?

Does the name Willis Conover ring any bells?

Reader's Digest once labeled the 40-plus-year host of Voice of America's premier jazz broadcast "the world's favorite American."

"He was known as the most famous American that virtually no American had ever heard of," said his 1996 obituary in the New York Times, which credited the "sugary, slow-talking baritone" VOA disc jockey for having "fought the Cold War with cool music, capturing the hearts and liberating the spirits of millions of listeners trapped behind the Iron Curtain.

"Six nights a week he would rev up the Strayhorn, put Ellington on the wing and take the A Train straight into the Communist heartland. For the next two hours Conover would bombard Budapest with Billy Taylor, strafe Poland with Oscar Peterson and drop John Coltrane on Moscow."

The VOA recalls his interviews with Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Count Basie and "virtually the entire pantheon of jazz artists from the 1950s through the 1990s."

Tomorrow night at 7 at its headquarters on Independence Avenue, the VOA will host with the Blues Alley Jazz Society and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, a free concert in memory of the popular jazz host, with a special tribute to musical impresario Quincy Jones.

Devoted dads

Regarding our item on congressmen missing crucial votes in the House — most recently Rep. Tim Mahoney, Florida Democrat, who attended his daughter Bailey's equestrian event in Texas — Matt Dannals writes in part:

"I'm not sure if you intended to be insulting, but the words 'horsing around' had that effect. Like the congressman's daughter, I was fortunate enough to have a father who put my sporting events on his calendar. A lot of parents don't take the time or are unable to get off work to support their children.

"I think Representative Mahoney should be commended for taking the time out of his busy schedule to support his daughter, regardless of whether or not he missed a vote to do so."

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