U.S. Department of Window Dressing: The House rules committee holds a hearing on whether to tighten the regulations regarding lobbyist-paid gifts and travel. A few weeks ago, an outright ban appeared likely; now the talk is of cosmetic change. Last week, senators killed a proposal that would have created an office of public integrity to clean up Congress after the Abramoff lobbying scandal. After big talk about sweeping proposals to reduce corruption, lawmakers are now moving toward easier measures, such as new disclosure requirements.
Early returns: Only 974 days until Election Day 2008, and the first ballots are being cast. Almost all of the Republican presidential candidates will be in Memphis, Tenn., Friday and Saturday for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, the first dog-and-pony show of the GOP primary campaign. After listening to speeches from George Allen, Sam Brownback, Bill Frist, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, attendees can cast ballots in the Hotline Straw Poll Saturday night. Missing from the speaking roster: Rudy Giuliani, who's a bit too Yankee for this affair.
Tim Russert, horse's hindquarters? Washington's Silly Season reaches its pinnacle Saturday night with the Gridiron Dinner, the annual white-tie affair hosted by the éminences grises of the capital's print journalists. For the first time, the Gridiron has admitted television personalities—disparagingly dubbed "Sparklies" by the ink-stained wretches—which could make for some lively entertainment. The new initiates typically have to wear demeaning costumes—such as the rear part of an animal—in the Gridiron skits. With Cheney expected to be in attendance, rumor has it that the newbies may be forced to dress up as quail. Bob Novak, a fixture at the dinner, will skip it because of the ACC basketball tournament. But the rest of Washington's important (or at least self-important) will be on hand to hear stand-up routines by Lynne Cheney, Barack Obama, and Bush.