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Congress knows which side its popcorn is buttered

Not far from the White House is a cozy little neighborhood theater that hosts some of the most exclusive film screenings in D.C. Forget about scoring a ticket, however, unless you’re a member of Congress, the Bush Administration or one of their well-connected buddies. Invitations to one of the theater’s screenings are a long-standing perk for the nation’s lawmakers courtesy of the Motion Picture Association of America. But it seems someone might have to tell those MPAA lobbyists that movie night is a big no-no, under the new ethics rules.

Alexander Bolton writes in TheHill.com that despite the gourmet appetizers and free drinks provided at the screenings, MPAA officials consider the evenings pretty wholesome and proper. Sorry to be the party pooper.

In letters to the Senate and House ethics committees, Public Citizen officials argue that these tweaks are not enough to avoid the gift ban and ask that the MPAA and other lobbying organizations receive “clear and appropriate guidance concerning the requirements of the ethics rules as applied to these entertainment events.”

But listening to MPAA head guy Dan Glickman explain it in Jim Puzzangherahe’s story in the L.A. Times, the movie nights are a great way to bring both sides of the aisle together. “The main value is goodwill,” he said. “People come here, they relax. . . . They can sit next to people they may be fighting and screaming with, and they come here and they don’t fight and scream.”

Read Public Citizen’s letter to the Senate and House ethics committees.