Poker: As American as Apple Pie
Between them, they've won millions of dollars and countless poker tournaments with their tricks and strategy, but when the game's Big Three storm Washington next week to fight an online gambling ban, they won't be bluffing about how bad the impact could be. To stop the steamrolling legislation, poker royalty Greg Raymer, Chris Ferguson, and Howard Lederer will meet this week with lawmakers, staff, and even war vets at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to build support for online gambling. "This is a truly American tradition. Truman played. Departed Chief Justice William Rehnquist had games in chambers," argues Michael Bolcerek of the Poker Player's Alliance. His compromise with the gambling foes: Regulate it, tax it, "but don't treat poker players like al Qaeda."
You Can Pick Your Friends, But...
Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, makes no bones about disliking most of his GOP colleagues. "Republicans in the Senate," he says, "do not represent mainstream Republicans in this country. Mainstream Republicans in this country are more moderate and more thoughtful than the people I work with who are in the majority in the Senate." Ouch. Well, of the 55 GOP-ers, he's gotta like a few, right? "Someone asked me the other day," he says, "'Who are the moderate Republicans?' Hmm. Well, you've got Lincoln Chafee [of Rhode Island], sometimes the two senators from Maine [ Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins], and Arlen Specter [of Pennsylvania] whenever you don't need him. That's it." Double ouch.
Pollster to Dems: Skip the God Talk
Republican pollster Frank Luntz has just returned from New Hampshire and Iowa with his 2008 review of Democratic presidential candidates, and he has advice for the hopefuls: Stop talking about God. "If voters really cared," he says, "they'd be Republicans." He found that Democratic primary and caucus voters want to hear about the issues, not quotes from the Bible. So which Democrat is ahead? Luntz, whose 2004 poll predicted Sen. John Kerry would emerge, likes ex-Virginia Gov. Mark Warner. As for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton? "She's going to have trouble if she doesn't lighten up."
Showing Off the Lighter Side of Lent
The Lenten season, when Roman Catholics give up a vice during the 40 days leading to Easter, is looking pretty good on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. By chance we bumped into the California lawmaker last week and complimented her on a new slimmed-down look. "Well," she says with a smile, "I gave up chocolate for Lent, and it's killing me."