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He’s a Card

After months of questioning whether Howard Dean has the proper temperament to be president, his Democratic rivals are finally going to have to admit that the guy is playing with a full deck.

David Krikorian, a Cincinnati entrepreneur, has created a “Dean Deck” of playing cards that features the former Vermont governor on all of the ace and king cards.

Everyone from liberal author Al Franken toting a Dean campaign sign (four of diamonds) to White House adviser Karl Rove with his fingers crossed (jack of clubs) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as the queen of hearts are jokingly featured as supporters of the former governor.

There’s also Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) holding a “Bush Lite” beer can (nine of hearts) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) clasping a ketchup bottle (10 of hearts). President Bush and Vice President Cheney, meanwhile, are featured as jokers.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) was not surprised that Dean’s fans left him out of the ensemble cast, given the fact that “The Hammer” has been pummeling the candidate.

“We’re like The Gooch from ‘Diff’rent Strokes,’” cracked DeLay spokesman Jonathan Grella. “We’ve taken his lunch money so many times he’d give himself an aggressive wedgie just to save us the trouble.”

As further evidence of Dean’s ever-growing clout on the Web, Krikorian told HOH he has sold nearly 1,000 decks (at $7.99 a pop) in just two weeks.

Krikorian said the Dean campaign was pleased to hear about his effort, but there is no formal connection. “They’re not getting a dime,” he said of the sales at

Back in the spring, the businessman was thrilled with the success from his first deck of cards: “Wall Street’s Most Wanted,” which featured corporate crooks from Enron and Tyco. After doing some Web research, Krikorian discovered that Dean allies were buying the Wall Street cards in droves and figured that a deck focusing on the candidate would be wildly popular.

So Krikorian headed to a Dean rally in Cincy. “I went up and introduced myself to Joe Trippi and slapped a Wall Street deck in his hand,” he said, adding the campaign manager expressed an interest in a new deck.

“I said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it,’” recalled Krikorian. “We had to bet on a horse. Dean’s that horse.”

Off to the Races. When he replaced Sen. Trent Lott (Miss.) as Majority Leader, Sen. Bill Frist (Tenn.) and his leadership team was supposed to usher in a new era of good relations with black voters.

But Democrats are howling about an e-mail sent out by one of Frist’s deputies — GOP Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.) — in advance of Wednesday’s confirmation hearing for Janice Rogers Brown, a black woman who has been nominated to a federal judgeship.

The e-mail invited “black journalists and reporters” to participate in a conference call on the nomination battle, according to The New York Post.

Apparently realizing the odd nature of limiting the call to scribes of one skin color, the GOP Conference quickly fired off a slightly improved — but still tortured — e-mail inviting all “reporters on the judicial nominees beat as well as African-American journalists” to join the call.

“If nothing else, screening reporters by race raises practical problems,” cracked a Senate Democratic aide. “I’m pretty sure the Senate phone lines are colorblind.”

Chicken Liberal. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) has blinked in his showdown with conservative radio talk show host Sean Hannity.

Hannity has been trying to goad Kennedy into appearing on his show, offering $10,000 to the Senator’s favorite charity if he will go on the air for a full hour.

But Kennedy spokesman Jim Manley told HOH late Wednesday that the boss is politely declining.

“Senator Kennedy is going to have to take a rain check,” said Manley. “He intends to do it next year, after the Democrats retake the House and Senate.”

In other words, it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

In the meantime, Kennedy is speaking today at the premiere of a new documentary, “Hidden Crisis: Women and AIDS in America,” at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation’s D.C. office. The film was created by the Senator’s niece, Rory Kennedy, and Moxie Firecracker Films.

Kennedy has also added a new communications director, David Smith, formerly of the Human Rights Campaign. Smith will be learning the Congressional ropes at the elbow of Manley, Kennedy’s veteran press secretary.

One of Those Countries Over There. Democrats were chuckling Wednesday over the fact that the Pentagon’s spin team on post-war Iraq had a little trouble keeping our allies straight.

“Please substitute the attached corrected version of the Oct. 20 Talking Points,” a Pentagon official wrote in the note distributed to Capitol Hill offices. “Poland, not Spain, leads one of the two multinational divisions in Iraq.”

One Democratic aide joked, “How embarrassing for the DOD and the Coalition of the Willing. The Spanish could have done a fine job, I’m sure, but from what I understand, Palau — population 18,766 — exercised its veto power.”

CBS Under Fire. House Chief Deputy Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is taking aim at CBS over a two-part miniseries that is expected to take a critical look at the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

Cantor fired off a letter Wednesday to Les Moonves, the president and CEO of the broadcast network, demanding answers about “The Reagans.”

Cantor wrote that he wants to make sure the final cut of the program presents an “accurate and fair portrayal of an immensely popular and important presidency,” following a New York Times report about GOP fears that the show will exaggerate Reagan’s foibles and diminish his successes.

“One cannot help but note the liberal politics of those directly involved with the creation of this mini-series, including producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan and actors James Brolin and Judy Davis,” wrote Cantor. “I am also concerned that past political associations and ideology of CBS executives and actors have seeped into the production, creating a work that portrays Reagan inaccurately.”

Fly Guy. Freshman Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) is urging all of the major airlines to follow the lead of Delta and start an “Operation Hero Miles” program to help American soldiers in Iraq come home to visit their families.

Soldiers who are granted two weeks of rest are flown to Baltimore/Washington International Airport but then have to pay their own way to specific destinations across the country. So Ruppersberger’s staff pressed Delta officials on the matter, resulting in the new program.

Now he’s challenging other airlines to pony up — and encouraging individuals to donate as well. “You can help American troops travel home to spend quality time with their loved ones without worrying about how much it will cost,” he said.

Putting their miles where their mouth is, Ruppersberger’s own staff is donating more than 67,000 frequent flier miles to the cause.

Isn’t It Ironic? Nathaniel Travis Heatwole, the student who has been charged with carrying concealed weapons onto six flights to prove that the Transportation Security Administration is not doing its job, attends Guilford College.

Who is one of the little-known North Carolina college’s most famous alumni?

That happens to be the alma mater of Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.), chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime, terrorism, and Homeland Security.

Virginia Slims. Those old, tired sports bets that lawmakers like to place with one another can sometimes get a little spicy when old grudges get dragged into it.

Witness Sen. George Allen’s (R-Va.) wager with Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) over Wednesday night’s college football battle between Virginia Tech and West Virginia University. Virginia peanuts and West Virginia pepperoni were supposed to be on the line.

But Allen raised the stakes a bit Wednesday on a Virginia radio station, cracking wise about the “unconstitutional” secession from Virginia by his neighboring state during the Civil War.

“I’d like to get Harper’s Ferry or Greenbrier County back if Virginia Tech wins,” he joked.

Locking Up a Big Title. One year after leaving the White House for one of the top GOP firms on K Street, Kirk Blalock has been promoted to name partner at newly renamed Fierce, Isakowitz and Blalock.

Before joining the firm, Blalock served for two years as the head of business outreach for the White House, where he helped rally support for a number priorities, including each of President Bush’s first two tax-cut bills.

In the private sector, Blalock has worked on two major issues: asbestos reform for the American Insurance Association and Bush’s latest tax-cut bill for the Business Roundtable and other corporate clients.

Blalock also is an aspiring fundraiser for the Bush campaign. He has hosted several fundraisers and hopes to become a fundraising “Maverick,” the term applied to younger Republicans who haul in at least $50,000 for the re-election effort.

Brody Mullins contributed to this report.

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