Bob Novak and the Horse's Mouth

| Tue Mar. 13, 2007 2:33 PM EDT

Bob Novak, the columnist affectionately known among Washington journalists as the prince of darkness and author of the Valerie Plame scoop, hosts an Off The Record luncheon from time to time with high officials, such luminaries as Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Al Gore, Bill Frist and so on. You might think these people are inaccessible, but for Novak they talk, answering questions, participating in the conversation. For a moment, however brief, you are on the inside track.

But, like all good things, there is a hitch. Novak only takes 70 people into his off the record briefings so there is a real scramble to get a seat. To obtain a seat at his April 26 lunch costs $595. (You can bring guests for $395 per person.) The affair is sponsored by the conservative paper Human Events.

The result: "I was able to get the straight scoop on the economic forecast," says Fred Jones, former president of Citicorp, in one blurb. "With that guidance, I was able to make the correct business decisions in the following months -- saving my company millions."

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