In late April, The Hotline, a widely read daily briefing paper for Capitol Hill insiders, polled 175 members of Congress and political strategists; they named Senator George Allen of Virginia as the most likely Republican candidate for the presidency in 2008.
A former governor who happens to be the son and namesake of the legendary Washington Redskins football coach, Allen wasted no time giving political junkies more to speculate about. Four days after the poll was published, Allen traveled to the Mecca of presidential hopefuls -- New Hampshire -- for a pair of political fundraisers, leading pundits of all stripes to note that he was following in the footsteps of many presidential contenders before him by getting an early start in the Granite State.
Little noted, though, was Allen's participation in yet another tradition of Republican presidential aspirants: sucking up to the extreme religious right.
Like John Ashcroft and George W. Bush before him, both of whom appeared at the famously bigoted Bob Jones University during their runs for the White House, Allen found it necessary to kiss the ring of one of the leading lights of religious fundamentalism.
On Saturday, Allen traveled to Virginia Beach, home of televangelist Pat Robertson's Regent University, where he shared a stage with the Christian Broadcasting Network founder and delivered a commencement address to nearly 900 graduates.
The address itself was typically unremarkable fare. Allen praised the graduates' "character" and "integrity" and urged them to "stand up for freedom, even under difficult circumstances."
More telling was what Allen failed to say.