The American Conservative Union’s annual CPAC conference kicks off today in Washington, so you can expect three days of incendiary headlines as pols throw big chunks of red meat to a large and ravenous crowd. Even boring old Mitch McConnell, not known as an oratorical wizard, is reportedly planning to tear the President a new one and complain about “liberal thugs.”

Indeed, on a speaker’s agenda that begins with Jim DeMint today and ends with Sarah Palin on Saturday, it won’t be easy to stand out. That’s a problem for Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who will be angling for a good showing in the presidential straw poll that is traditionally held on the last day (Ron Paul won the last two years, and Mitt Romney, in his “movement conservative” phase, won the two years before that). Strangely enough, Ron Paul won’t be there, citing a scheduling conflict; in recent years, a sizable percentage of the CPAC attendees have been Paulites, many of them students from Washington-area colleges. But Ron’s son Rand is speaking, so maybe the Paulite hordes will turn out for him.

Scanning today’s agenda, my personal favorite events are a couple of movies. There’s Fire From the Heartland: The Awakening of Conservative Women, “Starring the Honorable Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Ann Coulter, and an all-star cast.” But for sheer cinematic excitement, I don’t think that can top another flick later in the day: Nullification: The Rightful Remedy.

Even at a deadly serious conference aimed at taking back America from secular-socialists, there has to be some socializing. Fortunately, for the single set, is hosting a presentation on “Conservative Dating.” Check out this description:

Learn everything from how to avoid scaring away your own personal Dagny Taggart in the first five minutes of the conversation, to whether Tea Partiers and Occupiers can share something more than a dislike for bailouts.

I can just feel the excitement.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.