They All Scream for Ice Cream in D.C.
Finally, a solution to how President Bush can cool off Washington's overheated political climate. Hold an ice-cream social. "Maybe that's the secret to icing down the tension," jokes a Bush aide. Don't laugh. "Ice cream is a nonpartisan treat," cheers CNN star Wolf Blitzer , who gorges on chocolate chip from Gifford's Ice Cream in nearby Bethesda, Md. "It's equally delicious and fattening," he adds, "for Dems and Reps."
Seems everybody can agree on ice cream. "That's my big weakness," admits Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum , a fan of chocolate malt with caramel from Handel's Homemade Ice Cream and Yogurt near Pittsburgh. His polar opposite, New York's Hillary Rodham Clinton , likes anything from Mercer's of Booneville, N.Y. Speaker Dennis Hastert is an orange-sherbert kind of guy. In Arkansas, it's Yarnell's of Searcy where dieting Gov. Mike Huckabee licks sugar-free vanilla. Former Sen. John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, go for Dairy Queen's Oreo Blizzard. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings longs for her Austin, Texas, faves: vanilla custard from Sandy's or dark chocolate from Amy's Ice Creams. Dan Glickman , president of the Motion Picture Association of America, walks to Georgetown's Thomas Sweet for chocolate chip. And Labor Secretary Elaine Chao likes hers candied. "My favorite ice cream," she tells us, "is mint chocolate Dippin' Dots from Paducah, Ky." Yum-yum.
Even the Library Will Be Faith-Based
President Bush means business when he talks about supporting faith-based institutions. Which is why insiders say he wants to put his presidential library at a church-affiliated college back home. That would seem to give Southern Methodist University and Baptist-affiliated Baylor University the edge in the competition among eight Texas schools.
What's That Domed Thing Up Ahead?
Most grade-schoolers know the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument when they see them. But the Federal Aviation Administration is finding that many small aircraft pilots don't--which is why there's been such a jump lately in airspace incursions around the capital. Now, the FAA is mulling a plan to require pilots flying to Washington to take a course on where they can and can't travel; it'll include some Geography 101.
2008 Preview: The War for Ad Guys
Looks like the 2008 presidential race is going to be an all-out war if the early fight over ad consultants is any signal. The political pros tell us that Sens. John McCain, Bill Frist, and George Allen are way out front in luring top ad guys to their efforts with all three trying to win over Bush advisers. McCain seems to have scored first, getting Mark McKinnon on his team. Insiders say that Allen is especially keen on signing up conservative consultants.
'Geaux, Discovery!' Cheers Its Old Boss
He was NASA administrator when the shuttle Columbia broke apart in 2003 and has gone on to become chancellor at Louisiana State University. But Sean O'Keefe still went to Florida last week to watch the launch of the first shuttle since Columbia, so we asked for his thoughts about Discovery and the NASA mission. "I almost felt relief when the first launch attempt was scrubbed," he says. "During my tenure, only one flew on the date and time it was scheduled to, and that was Columbia." While noting that no flight can ever be guaranteed safe, he credits NASA for checking out the foam problem on Discovery, assessing the risk, and temporarily suspending future flights. "That's a huge shift from the past," he says. And a lesson from Columbia. "Some have suggested that pre-Columbia NASA was complacent," he says, "and that assessment is wrong. Instead, people were very attentive, but the reality was we just didn't understand the risk from insulation flying off the external tank--and what we didn't know did kill people." Naturally, O'Keefe felt a tinge of regret for leaving before Discovery flew. "But if I had [stayed], this mission would have been considered the end of the Columbia chapter instead of the opening of a new chapter and renewed commitment to exploration." Oh, he adds, one more thing with a Louisiana twist: "Geaux, Discovery!"
For Sweeney, the Old Dues Pay Off
When the Service Employees International Union split from the AFL-CIO last week, some wondered how John Sweeney , who ran SEIU before taking over the AFL-CIO, could still run for president of the umbrella group without being a member of an eligible union. Turns out he had a backup union card from the Office & Professional Employees International Union. The story: Back in the 1960s, he was in the ladies' garment union, and through mergers he rose to become an exec. And union executives are represented by OPEIU. Sweeney renewed his dues in January. Incidentally, the garment workers union eventually became part of UNITE, which boycotted last week's AFL-CIO election of Sweeney.
Injured, but Still Able to Serve
Army Surgeon General Kevin Kiley has escorted President Bush around Walter Reed Army Medical Center many times, giving injured soldiers, some missing limbs, a little face time with the commander in chief. Once, Kiley says, a soldier begged to remain in the Army. "He can stay in the Army, right?" Bush asked. "I said, 'Yes sir, I believe he can,' " Kiley recalled. Actually, that wasn't the case until recently. The rules were that soldiers who lost limbs in battle had to go. Now Kiley says the rules have changed, and soldiers can stay in. Still, given a choice of staying or taking generous retirement and disability benefits, only 12 of the thousands eligible have re-upped.
A Performer and A Devoted Fan, Too
Secretary of State Condi Rice isn't just a policy wonk who vegges out to Monday Night Football . Pals say the accomplished pianist also likes to hang out at the Kennedy Center's music hall. They say she often tries to "wrangle tickets."
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With Suzi Parker and Julian E. Barnes
This story appears in the August 8, 2005 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.