Sen. McCain's breakfast teaser

For a while there yesterday morning, it looked as if Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) were going to produce yet another of the many headlines he’s generated in recent weeks — but he pulled back just in time. Speaking at a breakfast at La Colline sponsored by The Hill, McCain was asked if he wanted to use the occasion to make some real news by announcing his candidacy for president in 2008.

For a while there yesterday morning, it looked as if Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) were going to produce yet another of the many headlines he’s generated in recent weeks — but he pulled back just in time.

Speaking at a breakfast at La Colline sponsored by The Hill, McCain was asked if he wanted to use the occasion to make some real news by announcing his candidacy for president in 2008.

“Yes, I’m going to do it right here in La Colline, this place of the people,” he said, before quickly making clear that he was joking — sort of.

“I really am not going to consider it until after the 2006 elections, and I would consider it — that’s all,” said McCain, whom most political observers expect to seek the GOP nomination again, as he did in 2000.

McCain emphasized that he has no campaign organization or political aides helping him prepare to run. “I’m not laying the groundwork,” he declared before adding, with a touch of sarcasm, “Thank you for asking.”

McCain also offered up his own choice for a Supreme Court nominee: former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.). “I’ve always said he’s a great senator and a lousy actor,” McCain said of the man who plays the chief prosecutor on TV’s “Law & Order” series, as well as other TV and film characters.

Tongue planted firmly in cheek, McCain cited Thompson’s Hollywood roles in “The Hunt for Red October,” “Law & Order” and “Baby’s Day Out” as reasons why the public would know and trust him.

McCain actually launched his Thompson trial balloon Tuesday as he met with reporters after Thompson had joined Republican senators at their weekly private lunch to discuss his role in expediting the confirmation of the next Supreme Court nominee or nominees. As Thompson walked by, McCain said, “There he goes now. Supreme Court Justice Thompson is leaving.”

Thompson could very well end up on the court if he follows the example of Vice President Cheney, who was in charge of the veep search committee for George W. Bush in 2000, only to end up taking the job himself.

Harris John Hancocks Palm Beach paraphernalia

At pollster Frank Luntz’s annual All-Star Game party Tuesday night, at which several hundred guests spent much of their time perusing his extensive collection of political and pop-culture memorabilia, Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) took advantage of an opportunity to enhance the collection.

Among Luntz’s prized possessions are a punch-card voting machine and several punch cards from Palm Beach County, Fla., circa 2000. Harris, of course, first earned her fame as a lightning rod for controversy as Florida’s secretary of state during the 2000 recount.

So, quite naturally, she signed one of the punch cards. “Frank — You are the best. Many, many thanks for your extraordinary efforts on our behalf over the years,” she wrote.

Harris had previously signed the white plastic machine itself with an equally effusive, “Frank — What an exciting, fun genius you are.”

Also at his party Tuesday, Luntz announced that his firm, Luntz Research, has been purchased by international advertising firm the Omnicom Group. The new entity under Omnicom will be called Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research and will focus on language development for political and corporate clients.

Allard aide appointed to Colorado Legislature

Thanks to a series of dominoes toppling over in state politics, Cory Gardner, legislative director for Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), will be sworn in as Colorado’s newest state legislator Monday.

Gardner explained that, earlier this year, Colorado’s secretary of state left for a nine-month tour in Iraq and was replaced by the former state Senate Minority Leader Mark Hillman. His Senate seat was, in turn, filled by state Rep. Greg Brophy, another former Allard staffer. Which opened up the 63rd District state House seat for Gardner, who just happened to grow up in Yuma, Colo.

Gardner was selected by a vacancy committee, which is authorized under Colorado law. He will have to defend his seat in next year’s elections, which he has said he plans to do.

The district, in the eastern plains of the state along the Nebraska and Kansas borders, is bigger than Connecticut and Massachusetts combined, Gardner said.

Gardner will attend a water-policy meeting in La Junta, Colo., this weekend — his last official act as a member of Allard’s staff.

No word on whether he’s planning to challenge Allard when his former boss comes up for reelection in 2008.

Aliens ignore restricted airspace, invade the Hill

That senator standing beside you may actually be a little green pod person from Mars. And he might have come from one of the many UFOs that have been buzzing around the Capitol for the past 50 years.

These unexplained phenomena in the sky will be explored in Capitol Offense: Alien Incursions of Restricted Airspace, a book to be released later this year by Robert Stanley, who edits a magazine on astrology, spirituality — and, yes, aliens — and an unnamed D.C. photographer who claims to have captured numerous UFOs on film.

In a lengthy article published in his own Unicus Magazine and sent to The Hill, Stanley contends that as recently as May 2 of this year “a fleet of UFOs once again passed through restricted airspace undeterred.” According to an eyewitness, one of the objects “was about 15 times or more the size of a 747 … easily.”

That’s nothing compared to the activity July 4 and 16, 2002, when a bevy of extraterrestrial activity had UFOs flying through the fireworks display, submerging in the reflecting pool and even “encircl[ing] and land[ing] on the Capitol Building roof and the surrounding park area late that night!” Before leaving, one even generated a “wormhole” in space.

Much of this activity was captured, mind you, by the anonymous, mysterious “D.C. photographer,” many of whose close-up photos look suspiciously like cells under a microscope.

This type of thing, says Stanley, has been going on since an incursion in 1952, exactly 50 years prior to the 2002 activity. Consider us convinced.

Labor leader likes Shields for high court

Seems that everybody has a candidate to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney declared his choice when he appeared at a Christian Science Monitor reporters breakfast Tuesday.

Asked for his views about what kind of a nominee would be favored by organized labor, Sweeney spotted a well-known syndicated columnist and TV personality sitting across the table, and said, “Mark Shields. He’s my candidate for chief justice.”

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