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Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican, learned of his federal grand jury indictment charging him with seven felony counts of making false statements "from the CNN news ticker," a well-placed Republican source on Capitol Hill tells Inside the Beltway.


In light of Sen. John McCain's latest television ad attempting to adjoin "celebrity" candidate Sen. Barack Obama to the likes of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, Mr. Obama and Democrats vying for the White House before him can't help but enjoy overwhelming support from Hollywood.

What Mr. Obama doesn't want, or so one leading celebrity insider tells this columnist, is a "Hollywood convention."

"Out here people are talking about, 'Are you going to the convention?' They don't even ask which convention, almost like Minneapolis doesn't even exist," says Ted Johnson, editor at large of Variety, referring to the Democratic and Republican conventions in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul, respectively.

Indeed, Mr. Johnson draws attention to "Hollywood's affinity for Obama and the Democrats" by highlighting $4.4 million in "showbiz sector" contributions so far for Mr. Obama, more than five times Mr. McCain's total of just over $757,000.

Yet the Variety editor, in an interview heard on Inside the Beltway Radio at washingtontimes.com, points out that "too much glitz" will land any presidential candidate in hot water.

"Just look at what Barack Obama has said as he was on his way back from Europe. He was saying I have to get out there and start talking about economic issues in Ohio, in Iowa, around the 'common people.' So this is a troubling thing for any campaign actually is how do you bring celebrities into the mix?

"There's a temptation there to help you draw crowds and everything, but there's a downside to it. It kind of feeds into the notion that you're somehow elitist, or somehow in this exclusive club that is separated from the common man, so to speak," he says.

Nevertheless, campaign contributions are difficult for any presidential candidate to turn down, and Mr. Johnson says Mr. Obama can expect a star-studded fundraiser this fall for his campaign hosted by "the trio behind DreamWorks" - moviemakers Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.

"There's no lack of people who want to host a fundraiser for Obama, but the candidate literally has to pick and choose. There's a lot of politics just involved in that decision," he explains.

"I should say that John McCain actually has been out here quite prominently raising money within the entertainment business," Mr. Johnson adds. "He has a big supporter, his name is Harry Sloan, he's actually the head of MGM, and he's been with him from the start and has actually had several fundraisers at his home."


Ask one well-known Washington pundit and she'll tell you the time is ripe for Sen. Barack Obama to bring his old adversary back into the fold.

"At this point, if Barack Obama really wanted to cause excitement with his vice president pick and do the unexpected ... he will put Hillary Clinton on the ticket as his veep running mate," Cheri Jacobus opines on the GOPUSA blog.

She explains that if Mr. Obama had chosen Mrs. Clinton from the get-go "it would not have been a positive dynamic. The press would all be quite bored with it by now, and the 'Bill factor' would be front and center throughout the summer.

"But if Obama picks her now, the press, Democrats and a host of others will all go crazy and the faux unity of the party will have Democrat conventioneers in Denver fainting like teeny-boppers at a Miley Cyrus [Hannah Montana] concert," Miss Jacobus says. "Bring on the smelling salts."

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