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Washington Whispers

July 2007


Coach Hastert at His Fighting Weight

JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WRDenny Hastert's final year as House speaker was a smackdown: Democrats booted him from the top perch, a killer campaign schedule led to worrisome weight gain, and it ended in a hospital for gallbladder removal. But the beefy former Illinois high school wrestling coach ...

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TAGS:
Hastert, Dennis

Hints on When Troops Come Home

Gen. David Petraeus, the Iraq war boss, is telling surge troops that they will not be kept past their 15-month tours. That means the troop drawdown could begin in April, when the first troops in the surge will reach their 15th month on the ground. Officials say that all of the surge brigades reach ...

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TAGS:
Petraeus, David
Iraq war (2003-2011)

No Church, No Problem for Fred

Even as Fred Thompson courts the evangelical political brass in advance of a presidential run, don't expect the former Law & Order star to sell himself as a devout Christian. Why? Thompson's team learned its lesson from watching former President George H.W. Bush. "When you look at Bush 41 talking ...

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TAGS:
religion
Thompson, Fred

To GOP, 'Bush' Is a Four-Letter Word

Here's how tough Capitol Hill is getting for President Bush. In the past, when the GOP urged lawmakers to extend 2001 major tax cuts, they were always dubbed the "Bush tax cuts," since it was his proposal. Not any more. Now, GOP leaders are starting to refer to them as "Republican tax cuts," a ...

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TAGS:
income tax
Congress
Bush, George W.

A Year Later, They Miss Only Falafel

It's been almost a year since Fox News Channel reporter Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig were seized in Gaza and held for 13 days. But with the exception of fresh falafel and a big story, they aren't eager to return to the Palestinian territory. "It's really not a good time to go back," says ...

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TAGS:
Fox Broadcasting Co.

Even Cushy IMF Feels Pinched

It's not easy to cry for International Monetary Fund staffers, whose benefits-laden, six-figure jobs are some of the richest in Washington. But tough times are upon the IMF. We hear that the institution is going through a bit of belt tightening. Like: trimming travel expenditures, doling out ...

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TAGS:
IMF

Golf Pro Mickelson Coaches Spellings

Masters champ Phil Mickelson knows there's a lot more to golf than turf and beer. It's the fancy angles and calculations involved that wow him, and he thinks those golf traits are a good way to get kids into math and science. And now even the Education Department is interested in his joint venture,

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TAGS:
Spellings, Margaret

New, Improved, and Still Unsatisfied

Some grumpy White House reporters aren't happy with their newly refurbished West Wing digs. A few hate their assigned seats, others want more space, and then there's the ban on jeans and sneakers. And now there's unease over who uses the facility after a reporter was barred from the briefing room ...

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TAGS:
White House
media

A Honey of an Item

By |

We're not above repeating the Politico's Anne Schroeder's shout-out to Whispers today.

She wrote:

Sweet As ...

It's kind of weird, but U.S. News' Washington Whispers columnist Paul Bedard has bees—and beehives. He and his wife are beekeepers. OK, people? He lives in the country, where you can do that ...

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Scooter's Everywhere

Now that the president has made sure he won't go to jail, CIA spy case figure Lewis "Scooter" Libby is popping up everywhere — serious and not.

Just last weekend, our spook spotted him playing second base in a pickup softball game at what's called Turtle Park near American University. More ...

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TAGS:
Libby, Lewis "Scooter"

New CIA Take: Was Goss Inept or Sabotaged?

The story is etched in Washington political history: After George Tenet, the internally popular and second-longest-serving CIA director ever, quit his post in 2004, his replacement, former Rep. Porter Goss, practically destroyed Langley with his partisan bumbling. Two years into the job, he was ...

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TAGS:
CIA
Tenet, George
Goss, Porter

Survivor: Kabul Embassy Style

Think a Foreign Service posting in Iraq sounds tough? Try Afghanistan. The cabin fever at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul apparently is so bad that one official compares it with the TV show Survivor: "Everyone there is on edge, tired of seeing the same people." A few dozen U.S. staffers are restricted to ...

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TAGS:
Afghanistan

Brothers in Arms Over Iraq?

Democratic Reps. Jack Murtha and David Obey are two gruff veteran appropriators. Murtha oversees defense dollars, and Obey, all spending. Over the years, the old bulls have clashed. But lately, they have found a common enemy: Bush's Iraq policy. And it seems the Obey-Murtha relationship has seen a ...

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TAGS:
Murtha, John
Obey, David

Incoming: Veterans' Oral Histories

The Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress is getting a big boost from its partnership with pbs and filmmaker Ken Burns, whose 14-hour documentary The War airs in September. The project has 50,000 stories on hand, collected by Boy Scouts, school groups, and a range of volunteers. A ...

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Hook, Line, Sinker With Your Fave Pol

August is downtime in the capital, especially for fundraising soirees. But we hear political fundraising trips to pols' home states are a hot ticket. Republicans have a few slated. Try fly-fishing in Jackson Hole, Wyo., with Sen. Mike Enzi during his "A Day in the Tetons" event for a cool $2,500 a ...

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TAGS:
politics

Condi's Ready to Play—Golf, That Is

JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WR-->Condoleezza Rice, the popular secretary of state oft-touted as White House timber, has taken up the sport of presidents-golf. "She's got the bug," says a close aide. Now before you take this as evidence she's running and slap a Condi for President sticker on your car's ...

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TAGS:
Rice, Condoleezza
golf

Barney's Got That Butterball Look

First pup Barney's almost 7 years old, and you know what that means: He's starting to fatten up in his older years. Once the energetic kid who used to run around with the famous "Barney Cam" on his noggin, we hear that the president's Scottish terrier is putting on weight. So much so that he has to ...

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Tony Snow Tells Pals He's OK

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow is telling friends that he has a very good shot at winning his second bout with cancer. He's even boasting that he has a better chance this time than he did when he was first diagnosed with colon cancer. For now, he's still undergoing chemotherapy every other ...

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TAGS:
Snow, Tony
cancer

Powerless Dems Told to Fess Up

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Joe Biden is fast winning the straight-talking title that Sen. John McCain had in his first White House run. The latest example: He says Democrats deserve their poor public-approval ratings because they oversold their powers to the voters in 2006. "We do not ...

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TAGS:
Biden, Joe
Congress

Even Bob Novak Needs an Editor

His new autobio, The Prince of Darkness, is a great read that tells all about his leading role in the Valerie Plame affair. But we hear that Robert Novak needed a good editor just like the rest of us scribes to get it to press. At 662 pages—not including 16 pages of pictures—it's half of what he ...

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TAGS:
Novak, Robert
Plame, Valerie
books
CNN

Tax Dollars—a Lot of Them—at Work

A Jeopardy quiz: In the category of federal jobs, this position pays almost $20,000 more than the vice president's salary. No, sorry, it's not the president. He gets $400,000. It's the chief information technology job for the Comptroller of the Currency at $231,000. Sound extravagant? It's not,

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TAGS:
salaries

PETA Says Jenna Bush Laid an Egg

You knew it was coming. Following a report that first twin Jenna Bush was seen munching down foie gras, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have filed a protest. "You were recently spotted doing some thing truly scandalous," writes PETA President Ingrid Newkirk: "Eating foie gras, an ...

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TAGS:
Bush, Jenna
PETA