Washington (CNN) - Take a political party trying to find its way, add thousands of conservative leaders and activists gathered from across the country, mix in the first real cattle call in next race for the White House, and controversies over who is allowed to speak and you get CPAC 2013.
The Conservative Political Action Conference touts itself as the largest and oldest annual gathering of conservatives. The three-day event is considered a good gauge of the mood of the conservative movement, but it's also increasingly criticized as more political carnival than conference.
I remember a time when the John Birch Society was the subject of jokes and ridicule. Now they control the Republican party!
Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll in 2011, 2010, and I think 2009, too. He was also the keynote speaker a 3 or 5 years ago when the John Birch Society held their Bicentennial Dinner.