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Inside the Beltway: Thunderous applause

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President George W. Bush greets Artie Muller, national executive director of Rolling Thunder, and singer Nancy Sinatra at the White House in May 2004. Mr. Muller and Miss Sinatra will again be part of the Memorial Day Rolling Thunder tribute to veterans. (Associated Press)

Inquiring minds want to know: When Rolling Thunder roars through the nation’s capital this weekend, will President Obama meet with the group’s founder and national executive director, Artie Muller, as former President George W. Bush did in years past? The answer is yes. On Friday, there was a brief meeting between Mr. Obama and the affable leather-clad leader who represents about a half-million patriotic veterans with a viable agenda and a spirited media presence.

Though he was able to meet with a Defense Dept official on veteran’s and prisoner of war issues while at the White House, Mr. Muller described his actual time with Mr. Obama as little more than a “photo-op”. That is in contrast to his experiences with Mr. Bush, who brought the Rolling Thunder group into the Oval Office and donned a black leather vest in honor of the occasion during one of their multiple encounters. Read the exclusive interview with Mr. Muller on his experiences here:

“Our troops appreciate you, the veterans appreciate you, and your president appreciates you,” Mr. Bush told them.

Meanwhile, Washington’s roadways again will provide a startling showcase for the 500,000-plus riders eager to celebrate Old Glory and splendid motorcycles while reminding the nation about veterans care, POWs and MIAs. One iconic singer would not miss this weekend.

“Every visit to the annual Rolling Thunder event reminds me of the military servicepeople I had the privilege of meeting during my performances for the troops in Vietnam,” a gracious Nancy Sinatra tells Inside the Beltway.

“I have always kept those valiant heroes and heroines in my heart. We should each support all those who have served, especially the returned wounded, never forget the POWs, and continue to honor those MIA and KIA on Memorial Day and every day. They deserve our praise and gratitude, as do their families,” Miss Sinatra says.

SOLDIERING ON

Reagan historian Craig Shirley’s New York Times best-seller “December 1941: 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World” is compelling enough to make a decent movie, perhaps as James Bradley’s “Flags of Our Fathers” did several years ago. The latter book chronicles the lives of the men who raised the American flag over Iwo Jima: Mr. Bradley’s father, a U.S. Navy corpsman, and five Marines.

Mr. Shirley’s family is part of his narrative — including his uncle, Airman 2nd Class Ellsworth Abbott Shirley, who perished when his aircraft was shot down during a bombing run over Indochina in early 1945.

But duty calls: The author journeys to the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., on Tuesday to speak about his book; he appears at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara as a guest of the Young America’s Foundation later in the week. Then there’s one other historical stop, at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, N.Y., on June 23.

“The central and most important actor in ‘December 1941’ is the United States of America,” Mr. Shirley says.

SCIENCE CORNER

“Burmese snub-nosed sneezing monkey, Bonaire banded box jellyfish, South African devil worm, night-blooming orchid, dive-bombing parasitic wasp, SpongeBob SquarePants mushroom, Nepalese autumn poppy, wandering leg sausage millipede, armored walking cactus, Sakima’s tarantula.”

And there you have it: the top 10 newly discovered plant and animal species of 2012, according to the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and a panel of scientists from nine countries. The official name of the aforementioned mushroom is, incidentally, Spongiforma squarepantsii. See the occasionally hair-raising photos of flora and fauna here: http://species.asu.edu

SEEKING “KNOW-HOW”

The White House has launched a program called Presidential Innovation Fellows that on Wednesday “will pair top innovators from the private sector, nonprofits, or academia with federal government employees to collaborate on game-changing solutions that aim to deliver significant business results in just six months.”

Who knew? See the details and request an application here: www.whitehouse.gov/innovationfellows

HOOSIERS UNITED

Richard Mourdock, who recently defeated Sen. Richard G. Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary election, thinks fellow Hoosier Gov. Mitch Daniels would make a dandy point man for Mitt Romney, should the presumptive nominee win the White House.

“I think he would make a great chief of staff at the White House,” Mr. Mourdock told LaDonna Curzon, host of Sarah Palin Radio, an online production. Supported by passionate tea partyers, Mr. Mourdock won 90 of the 92 counties in his state despite a modest campaign treasure chest.

The fiscally conservative grass-roots organization FreedomWorks already has cited Mr. Mourdock’s victory as a national model for other high-profile races around the nation.

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About the Author

Jennifer Harper

To read Jennifer Harper’s Inside the Beltway columns, click here. Contact her at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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