It's Up, Up, and Away for Air Condi
There's at least one cabinet secretary not returning Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman 's calls for fuel conservation by Americans: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. That's because she's on the road. In just her first year as the nation's top diplomat, Rice has shattered the considerable records for globe-trotting set by her predecessors, and it's not about to end if Condi has her say.
Where former Secretary of State Colin Powell felt it necessary to stay in Washington to protect his turf against challenges from Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Rice is part of their posse and personally very close to President Bush, so she has no worries about boarding her Air Force jet for faraway lands. In fact, she prefers to be in the air. We hear, for instance, that while returning home from Haiti last month, she reviewed her schedule and found a long stretch of downtime in Foggy Bottom. Bad, say aides, who whipped out a map of the world and discussed possible trips. "She said, 'Look, I'm secretary of state. I should be traveling,' " says one insider. She's visited most of the world's hot spots, but this week alone, she's traveling to Kirgizstan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. Look for more flight time later. Advisers tell us that the secretary likes face-to-face meetings in foreign capitals versus conference calls. "She thinks it's very important to travel," says one.
They See Al Gore by a Nose in 2008
Is Al Gore coming back? If allies we talked to have their way, the former veep will be the next president. "It's Gore Time," says a political strategist and fundraiser who is opening a bid to get Gore into the race. Gore friends see his recent political and business moves as proof he's preparing to run. Allies say that in speeches, Gore has found his voice to address domestic and world issues. And in raising money for his Current TV network, which targets the critical youth market, Big Al has built an issue base and donor network that's competitive with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton 's. Our source--a top aide in the previous Bush administration--is planning meetings with Gore's team to push an early entry while Clinton runs for re-election in New York. It doesn't end there: The Gorebots want him to pick Sen. Barack Obama, the youthful Illinois African-American, as his No. 2.
We're Becoming Cable TV Junkies
As if we needed more proof that the nation's lard-butt crowd is growing, we have new polling information that shows Americans are getting hooked on cable news. The Winston Group tells us that nearly half the nation watches an hour or more a day, 32 percent tune in for up to three hours a day, and 16 percent watch more than three hours of Fox, MSNBC, or CNN.
Feelin' Groovy With the General
Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace , the newly minted chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is turning out to be something of a Renaissance man. Sure, in his "guidance to the joint staff" just issued, he talked up the war. But his other message was just as important: Slow down, enrich your life, and you'll be a better warrior. "Devote time to think, read, and write," he writes. "Each of us must regularly carve out time to look beyond the present."
Toasting Gorby: It's 'a Greek Thing'
In the latest sign that all's forgiven for the Cold War, ex-CIA Director George Tenet this month plans to be the toastmaster at the Greek Orthodox Church's New York City banquet honoring former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev . He's getting the Athenagoras Human Rights Award previously given to folks like Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu . Has Tenet, the son of Greek immigrants, gone soft? Nah, said an associate. "It's a Greek thing."
Speaker Hastert's Wrecker Service
It's about time that House Speaker Dennis Hastert added a vintage tow truck to his collection of antique cars and pickups. That's because he's getting pretty familiar with providing wrecker service to his GOP caucus. The Illinois Republican, who emerged after the bloody 1998 internal war that left former Speaker Newt Gingrich out of power, came to the rescue again last week, say insiders. We hear he urged those vying to eventually replace sidelined Rep. Tom DeLay to cool their campaigns. He also promised to take a meat ax to the bloated budget to soothe antsy conservatives. "The speaker's been there before," says a friend, "and he's getting pretty good at picking up the pieces."
The Straight Man of K Street
The legal and lobbying firm of Piper Rudnick Gray Cary has quietly built a powerhouse collection of former congressional bosses that now includes former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt . At last week's reception to honor Geppy, fellow firm colleague and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell talked about the Democrat's "conviction" on issues, adding that another officemate, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey , also had "convictions." When it came time for Armey to shower Gephardt with praise, a guest recalled that he opened by saying, "I feel I should make clear that I've never been convicted."
Wedding Cake With a Side of Barney
If Bush personnel aide and embattled immigration and customs nominee Julie Myers doesn't make it through the Senate confirmation process, she might have a future as the White House social secretary. We hear that Myers, 36, who appears to have cooled charges of cronyism and inexperience, is quite the party planner. Friends tell us that out-of-town guests to her Georgetown wedding last month received cute gift baskets filled with White House and city trinkets and ideas on how to entertain kids. The package included pictures of first pets Barney and Miss Beazley and the vice president's dogs, Jackson and Dave . "Wow," offered another recently married Bushie. "All my guests received was a piece of local fudge."
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With Thomas Omestad and Julian E. Barnes
This story appears in the October 17, 2005 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.