The Speaker Gets the Symbolism

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As the first-ever woman speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi understands the importance of symbols. And she was full of her trademark touches of style and substance last week as she took the gavel. Three examples: First, she's on a personal enviro-kick, asking her security detail to drive suvs that run on E20, a mix of 20 percent ethanol and 80 percent gas, insiders tell us. While E10 is more common, E20 is a long-term goal, but associates say she wants to speed up the shift and to lead by example. Despite her victory, it is a compromise: She initially asked for a hybrid Chevy Suburban. Second, that wasn't Lenten purple Pelosi wore the day she was sworn in. It was the color of the original suffragettes. And finally, as simply a nice act, she gave ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert one of those coveted secret "hideaways" in the Capitol to use as his retreat.

With Kevin Whitelaw and Kenneth T. Walsh