The Conservative Political Action Committee conference in Washington revealed yesterday who the leader they want really is.

No, it is not Sarah Palin, who only got 7 percent of the straw poll vote, or Ron Paul, the libertarian who topped that poll, or familiar names like Mitt Romney, who fared poorly.

It was a man whose name was not even on the ballot.

Step forward Glenn Beck, and claim your rightful place.

The crowd went crazy when Beck was introduced and he didn't disappoint, with the kind of red-meat speech that had them sweating in their seats -- and boy, it was hot there.

He did it by aiming his guns squarely at the Republican Party and slamming even icons like Teddy Roosevelt for being soft on big government.

Beck is fast becoming the TV equivalent on the right of Rush Limbaugh on talk radio. But unlike Limbaugh, he may well have political ambitions.

Several of his Fox friends believe he is planning such a move in a year or two -- perhaps in time for 2012.

If so, look out.

In an era when politicians want to be celebrities and celebrities want to be politicians, Glenn Beck could make the switch easier than almost anyone.

He is a gifted speaker and knows how to push the hot buttons -- and there are plenty of those around.

Watch out for this guy running from the right in 2012.