At the heart of the Conservative Political Action Conference is the swag room called the CPAC Hub. Inside, the American Enterprise Institute is one of a few dozen groups handing out free branded items. Today, I learned they’re hiding a horrible secret.

Not five minutes ago, I approached the American Enterprise Institute booth with the intent of photographing the swag therein. But my presence obviously set off some sort of internal security alarm and the blonde woman manning the table was clearly determined to protect her secret—at any cost.

(She called security on me for taking a picture of a pen.)

An extreme reaction, caused, the rube might surmise, by allegiance to a political movement that equates the “elite liberal media” with terrorists; the obvious result of listening to Sarah Palin say the words “gotcha journalism,” over and over until her battery runs out.

But maybe it was the only way to throw one intrepid reporter off the scent of something much, much bigger.

So, I can only wonder—what terrible secret is the American Enterprise Institute hiding?

What terrible secret do these pens hold?

All photos by me, unless security asks. Contact the author at