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Washington Whispers

November 2007


Two Secrets of Chief Spook Michael Hayden

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ILLUSTRATION BY JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WRHis job title should be warning enough not to mess with him. But when it comes to pro-football betting and running, be especially wary of CIA Director Michael Hayden. As you would expect of the nation's top spook, the Air Force general has a few tricks ...

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What Is It About Dennis Kucinich?

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If he doesn't win the Democratic presidential nomination, Rep. Dennis Kucinich might have a future in modeling—or perhaps Playgirl. Why: Chicks dig him, and not just his British wife, some 30 years younger. Add Hollywood beauty Mira Sorvino." Dennis Kucinich is an amazing person," the Darfur ...

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Justice Thomas, Not Big on News

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas says he's shocked when he sees judges reading editorials. "I think that our job is not to be influenced by the media," he says. He isn't. "It is rare, extremely rare, that I ever read about anything that we do in the media," says Thomas, who was roughed up ...

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Biden Still Loves His Newspapers

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We've listened to all the hullabaloo about the new online political order. But long-shot Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has taken a decidedly old school tack in the run-up to the January 3 Iowa caucuses: full-page black-and-white newspaper ads. His latest quotes opponents like Sen.

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Clinton Country Trained Huckabee

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GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee says he knows the trick to beating Sen. Hillary Clinton. It's the experience of taking on the Clinton political machine back home in Arkansas, where he was governor for more than a decade. "That means something," he tells us. "To do that as a Republican in a ...

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Surprise: Not Enough Lawyers

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In a city filled with government lawyers, there apparently isn't any obvious choice to be the top legal brain for the Federal Housing Finance Board, the group that oversees the Federal Home Loan Banks. We hear that the board is spending some $75,000 to have headhunter firm Korn/Ferry International ...

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Schooling Scribes on Education Beat

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This is how bad the news industry is getting. On some complicated beats, like education, newbies have to learn on the job because big-city papers have axed the older, and higher-paid, specialists. So how's a new kid supposed to get up to speed? The National Education Writers Association has a plan:

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This Dynasty Starts in Sixth Grade

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He left office in 2003, but former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer says the political itch remains. Last year, Roemer, who heads the Center for National Policy, found himself outside a Northern Virginia school at 7:30 a.m. distributing political pamphlets. The candidate? His son, Matthew, then a sixth ...

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Out Loud: November 30, 2007

"Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson. That's what Jesus would do."

Mike Huckabee, the GOP presidential hopeful, asked by host Anderson Cooper in the CNN/YouTube debate what Jesus would do about the death penalty

"Madam president of the United States...it's an extraordinary ...

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Nussle Plays Lead for Budget Blues Brothers

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ILLUSTRATION BY JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WRAs the new director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jim Nussle concedes that he's something of a budget geek. "It's embarrassing," he tells us, "but, yes, it does get me going." Yet the former Iowa congressman and House Budget Committee chair ...

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Lou Dobbs for President...Maybe

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Remember when conservative pundit Pat Buchanan ran for the GOP nomination in 1992, miffed with former President George H.W. Bush's policies? Now there's talk of another media big shot considering a bid: CNN's Lou Dobbs. Fans say he'd most likely run as a third-party populist, as Ross Perot did the ...

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Limited Capitol Hill Deal: Cut-Rate Cigs

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New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg has never liked it that Senate sundry shops sell tobacco products. Worse: They're discounted, and young buyers aren't often carded. Well, those days are nearly over. After he and four other senators complained that the sales sent the wrong message, the shops have ...

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Tony Orlando and John...as in McCain

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He's been wanting to tie a yellow ribbon around Sen. John McCain ever since reading the GOP presidential candidate's moving autobiography two years ago. And now, aging pop star Tony Orlando has done it. Well, technically. Orlando, who's been working for veterans ever since his 1973 hit "Tie a ...

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This Lunch May Give Reporters Gas

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Maybe the next time the Federal Emergency Management Agency finds that it can't attract any reporters to its press conferences, it will ring up Shell Oil for tips. Just consider what the fuel giant is offering newsies to attend the upcoming luncheon of the Washington Automotive Press Association:

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Wolfgang Sinks His Teeth Into D.C.

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L.A. chef to the stars Wolfgang Puck has a new thing for Washington. And not just because he has opened his latest restaurant, the Source, in the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and White House. "Washington is a great place for restaurants because you have so many people coming ...

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Steak, Pasta, and a Steamed Senator

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He was one of the chamber's most important members, which explains why a nearly full-body-size portrait of former Sen. Mike Mansfield hangs in the Senate Mansfield Room. The elegantly appointed hall just off the Senate floor is host to the weekly Republican members' lunch. For over a decade,

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Out Loud: November 16, 2007

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"You got to do things that are fun. ...I don't have to sit around drooling just because I'm 83."

Former President George H.W. Bush, on parachuting with the U.S. Army Golden Knights in a ceremony for his presidential library and museum

"Dragging an old guy up here and hearing what he has to say is the ...

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'Anything for a Vote' and Other Catchy Tunes

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ILLUSTRATION BY JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WRSure, politics makes for great theater—so why not a musical? That's what Iowa native Robert Ford thought when he created Caucus! The Musical, set to open in Des Moines next month (and in New Hampshire under the title The Primary Primary!) to ...

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Going an Extra Mile for U.S. Troops

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The United Service Organizations, aka USO, just revealed the winners of its first annual Above and Beyond awards for Americans who have helped the troops in extraordinary ways. Patti Patton-Bader, the great-grandniece of Gen. George Patton, organized a network of volunteers who now send 100 care ...

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Italy Wants In on Iran Nuke Talks

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The already sluggish diplomacy surrounding Iran's nuclear program could get even trickier shortly. Right now, the United States is part of a six-nation group—which includes China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany—developing international sanctions and incentives for Iran. It turns out, though,

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Little Has Changed for Lady Pols

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When Erika Falk began delving into the press coverage of female presidential candidates between 1872 and 2004, she found little change. Surprising, given that in 1872 women didn't have the right to vote and could not be served alone in a restaurant after 6 p.m. "When you compare the amount of ...

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Hollywood Writers' Strike Offers Relief

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White House officials have lately been spared the lampooning montages that have become a staple of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, thanks to the Hollywood writers' strike. But the show's influence persists. Mike McCurry, former Clinton White House press secretary, visited a school outside ...

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Shortwave Static Plagues Russians

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It looks as if Russia may be dusting off its old over-the-horizon radar system to offer up to America in the hopes that pols would then drop plans to build a base in the Czech Republic (to detect missiles launched from Iran). It's a problematic plan on a number of fronts, but radio fans in ...

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Former Top Lawyer Gets Big Bucks

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It looks as if former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is landing on his feet. The embattled Texan resigned after the Justice Department came under fire for axing nine U.S. attorneys. Now University of Florida's student paper, the Alligator, reports that Gonzales will take home $40,000 for a ...

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Out Loud: November 9, 2007

"'I believe in tax cuts.' Whoop-de-do. It's nothing very creative and new, and the electorate is so used to these shopworn clichés that that won't be sufficient."

Don Sipple, GOP strategist, on GOP economic prescriptions

"I would consider Joe Biden for anything. He's a friend.... I'm one of ...

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Suddenly, the GOP Is Crying Vive la France!

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ILLUSTRATION BY JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WRSacrebleu! Remember the House Republicans who changed the name of a famous fried potato to "freedom fries" out of anger that Paris was wimping out in the war on terrorism? Now they're holding up new President Nicolas Sarkozy as a model for campaign ...

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Bush Girls Dynasty: PETA Sex Polls

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First it was model and presidential niece Lauren Bush. Is first daughter Jenna Bush next? If she only gives up Filet-O-Fish sandwiches and a fave seafood restaurant—Hook in Georgetown—Jenna could be the second Bush declared the Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity. Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for ...

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A Second Life for LBJ, Lady Bird

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LBJ might be coming back the only way dead folks can: virtually—through a site like Second Life. We're told that the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin is examining virtual sites to hook today's techie generation on his days. Second Life allows users to build a virtual community,

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I Spy Some Really Happy Spies

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The fallout from the outing of former CIA operative Valerie Plame and the internal teeth-gnashing during the short tenure of embattled spy master Porter Goss haven't had much of an impact on the new kids at Langley. In fact, insiders tell us that job turnover at the nation's top spy agency has ...

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Up for Auction: Clinton Scandals

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They cost the Clintons over $4 million, but you can have a piece of presidential scandal memorabilia for a lot less. Up for auction: official documents personally signed by Bill and Hillary Clinton approving the payment by his legal defense fund of massive lawyer bills stemming from the Whitewater,

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Rudy's Tree Has Presidential Roots

One of the most prominent homes in Dublin, N.H., is giving new meaning to "presidential timber." It's owned by Republicans Joseph and Augusta Petrone, longtime Bushies, in whose yard former President Taft planted a tree, as did Mark Twain—he planted two. Now comes the 2008 presidential primary race ...

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Texas Ranger Turns Arkansas Traveler

When Walker, Texas Ranger star Chuck Norris recently backed GOP presidential challenger Mike Huckabee, the candidate was the first to express surprise. "It was unsolicited," he says of the online endorsement. Now Huckabee says he and Norris are planning their "take-down strategy . . . I think ...

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Out Loud: Nov. 2, 2007

"If you asked me in a phone call, as ardent a Democrat as I am, I would disapprove of Congress as well."

Nancy Pelosi, House speaker, agreeing with public disapproval of the Democratic-controlled Congress

"I don't think he should have been arrested, but it's more likely than not that he was ...

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