LOS ANGELES -- The command center of Andrew Breit-bart's growing media empire is a suite of offices on Sawtelle Boulevard in West Los Angeles with the temporary feel of a campaign office. Only the computers seem firmly anchored.

The 41-year-old, who has emerged as a star of the tea party movement, loves talking about his political transformation from a liberal, West Side child of privilege into a Hollywood-hating, mainstream-media-loathing conservative. Among his epiphanies:

--The Black Dorm Moment: In 1987, Breitbart was a freshman at Tulane University when his friend, a sophomore at Stanford, happened to mention that school's African-American-themed residence hall.

"And then, when I found out that it was not segregation in the sense of white people doing it, I was like, 'What are you talking about? Why aren't we working toward the color blind ideal?' "

--The Clarence Thomas Moment: In 1991, he was riveted by Supreme Court hearings in which the future associate justice was grilled by hostile Democrats.

"I remember the mainstream media telling me, 'Bad man! Really bad man! Sexual harassment bad man! Worst-bad-man-in-the-history-of-the-world bad man!" he told a Philadelphia tea party rally in July.

This summer, on his Big Government website, Breitbart posted an item that made him a household name.

The NAACP had accused the tea party of tolerating racism in its ranks, and Breitbart was looking for ammunition to fight back. The item he posted July 19 included two short video clips of a federal bureaucrat named Shirley Sherrod telling a Georgia chapter of the NAACP how she once gave short shrift to a white farmer.

When the full video of Sherrod's 43-minute speech later was released, it showed her to have transcended racial animus and become an advocate for poor people, regardless of color.

Sherrod called Breitbart a racist and vowed to sue.

Breitbart defended himself with brio, but it was clear he had some regrets. "If I could do it all over again," he told Newsweek, "I should have waited for the whole video to get to me."

He insisted his motives were pure. "I don't like it when anybody is falsely branded a racist," he said. A post-racial future, he added, "is my dream."

Breitbart, who lives in Westwood with his wife, Susie, and their four young children, was adopted by moderately conservative Jewish parents and attended two of L.A.'s most exclusive private schools -- Carl thorp and Brentwood.

After college, he lived in Venice, where he waited on tables at Hal's and was a self-described "rollerblading gallivanting jocular goofball." At Hal's, he met his wife, the daughter of Orson Bean, an actor and political conservative.

"Orson was there for my political transformation, and I don't think it could have happened had I not had someone like him who I admired," Breitbart said.

For the past few weeks, Breitbart has been researching the government's massive civil rights settlement with black farmers who the U.S. Department of Agriculture discriminated against .

"The more I look into this, the more sympathetic I am to the original case by the black farmers," Breitbart said. "They got the short end of the stick in a major way. ... There is a huge scandal here that is going to upset the status quo in America."