Bush's Lone Star Cronies

A quick review of the gang W brought to D.C.

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With only nine months remaining until George W. Bush returns to Texas, let's examine some of the associates who made the journey with him during these eight long years. It is not a pretty roll call.

• Dick Cheney is a Wyoming transplant who started making his millions when he moved to Houston to head Halliburton. The vice president's former company has made big bucks as a contractor in Iraq, and Cheney has become a strange and unpopular figure with his dissembling on the war.

• Alberto Gonzales came to the capital as Bush's legal adviser before becoming attorney general. Members of both parties were not amused at his convenient memory loss while testifying before Congress. He can't seem to land a job now.

• Karl Rove, Bush's political guru, was investigated in the Valerie Plame scandal but escaped indictment. His scorched-earth conduct of political campaigns is a bad mark on our system.

• Harriet Miers was a Texas lawyer who admired the president and became his White House counsel. Bush's ill-advised nomination of her to the Supreme Court was attacked in both parties, and she fled the city.

• Alphonso Jackson made a quick exit recently from Washington under a cloud during his short tenure as secretary of HUD. Jackson seemed to favor friends in contracts awarded by the agency. He loved perks and reportedly spent $100,000 to renovate the kitchen in his office at HUD, against the advice of some associates.

• Karen Hughes was Bush's alter ego in Austin and then the White House before later moving to the State Department as a roving goodwill ambassador. It was a tough sell in countries that loathed the president—and handing out soccer balls didn't do the job.

• Scott McClellan was Bush's press secretary but looked like a deer in the headlights when he tried to explain the president's statements or policies. He wrote a book.

• Dan Bartlett worked in Texas for then Governor Bush before coming to Washington as communications adviser. He liked to take issue with any criticism of his boss, which was perhaps a study in loyalty but was also comical at times.

• Rod Paige was Bush's first secretary of education, who found Washington was not like the school district in Houston. He left without fanfare. His successor, Texan Margaret Spellings, at least tried to make No Child Left Behind work, but the administration didn't sufficiently fund the program.

As for the president himself, he is not a Texan by birth despite the cowboy boots. He was raised a Connecticut, white-shoe Yankee. And he's going back to his adopted home to write a book. If it is his memoirs, it should be a doozy.

(Full disclosure: I lived for five years in Dallas and six years in Houston and have many friends of both parties in the Lone Star State.)