With all the supple silence of a python sliding round the gut of a sleeping monkey, Bilderberg 2017 is slipping unobtrusively into life.
Throughout today (1 June), limousine after limousine will come purring through the heavily guarded gates of the Westfields Marriott hotel, just outside Washington DC, gently depositing politicians, party leaders and public officials into happy laps of some of the world's most powerful financiers.
Bilderberg is an annual three-day political summit, held entirely in private, and hosted and paid for by big business.
It's currently led by a board member of HSBC, Henri de Castries, and is run by a steering committee which includes the heads of Google, Deutsche Bank, Santander and Airbus.
They're joined this year by the heads of AXA, Bayer, ING, Lazard, Fiat Chrysler and the IMF. And the King of Holland, who owns great chunks of Royal Dutch Shell. In short, Bilderberg is so high powered that if it were a car Richard Hammond would have killed himself in it.
This year sees a glut of US politicians heading out of the Beltway and into Bilderberg. Four close associates of the President have been invited, including his Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, and his National Security Advisor, HR McMaster. The conference is taking Trump seriously enough to stick him on top of their agenda, promising "a progress report" on his administration.
When the reckoning is made, it's unlikely Trump will get much support from committed globalists like Bilderberg insider Eric Schmidt, the head of Google, who in the past has castigated Trump for being "anti-globalisation".
The internationalists and europhiles of Bilderberg are no fans of Trump, although the Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who sits with Schmidt on the group's steering committee, has never been shy of expressing his admiration for America's 45th president. "He's very charismatic", says Thiel, and has "a phenomenal understanding of people".
His fellow billionaire, Henry Kravis, agrees. The head of KKR said recently that Trump will "deliver on his promises". Although I'm not sure anyone even remembers what those promises were. Something about winning so much you throw up?
Team Trump will be joined at Bilderberg by two US Senators and the Governor of Virginia, and from slightly further afield, the Chinese Ambasador to the US, Cui Tiankai. With "China" cropping up on the conference agenda, this raises the awkward spectre of the Logan Act, which expressly forbids US citizens to negotiate with any foreign power "in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States."
If you allow "controversy" to include the South China Sea, then you've got all the ingredients for a violation. Not that the police are about to burst into the Marriott and start arresting people. Although if they did, I think Henry Kissinger (who is also attending) might be wanted for war crimes. It's worth bearing in mind.
There's a stronger than usual whiff of Goldman Sachs to this year's conference. By my count there are five tentacles of the vampire squid at the Westfields Marriott: James A. Johnson, a director; the former president of the EU Commission, José M. Durão Barroso, now chairman of Goldman Sachs International; former World Bank boss, Robert Zoellick, who chairs the bank's International Advisory Board; and two members of that board, Victor Halberstadt and José Luis Arnaut.
It's always worth remembering, when you're wondering whether it's such a good idea for so many politicians to be cosily closeted away for three days at Bilderberg, that the conference is part-funded and heavily populated by arguably the world's most loathed financial institution.
You don't have to scratch this year's invitation list very hard to find it problematic. The Spanish minister of economy cooped up with the head of Spain's largest bank. The Canadian finance minister and the head of Canada's largest bank. The CEO of Airbus, the world's 7th largest arms company, sandwiched between the head of Nato and the Dutch defence minister, discussing defence spending. Cosy.
But personally what I find most problematic is this item halfway down the 2017 agenda: "The war on information".
Bilderberg is going to tackle fake news. An organisation that has spent 60 years spreading half-truths and disinformation about itself, that has fought tooth and nail to keep information about itself away from the press and public, is suddenly all anxious about protecting the truth? Right.
To be quite honest, it's odd writing about the Bilderberg conference at all at a time when the mainstream press is positively seething with elaborate Russian conspiracy theories. Vladimir Putin has morphed into the grand puppetmaster — the arch controller, pulling the strings of the world, holding sway over elections. Forget Bilderberg, the dots have finally been joined and the real hidden hand behind world events has been revealed.
For 60 years, Bilderberg has just been spinning its wheels in the mud. All those billionaire financiers and hedge fund bosses, all those CEOs of giant industrial conglomerates, they've been courting politicians for no reason whatsoever. It's Russia that holds all the strings. If only they'd known! They could have saved a fortune on buffet bills.
Charlie Skelton will be tweeting from Chantilly, Virginia on @deyook.