It's Stewart for the 'Congressional 500'
NASCAR is not just for the Dukes of Hazard set anymore. Lots of big-shot politicians dig the noise and dirt. And with a new racing season underway, what better time to get those congressional grease monkeys to handicap the 2006 championship? While some hope the more seasoned drivers like No. 31 Jeff Burton or No. 88 Dale Jarrett win the Nextel Cup, many think Tony Stewart, No. 20, will repeat as champ and that No. 11 Denny Hamlin will be rookie of the year. "I like the old guys," says Sen. Jon Kyl, whose Arizona Republican colleagues have dubbed him "Mr. NASCAR." He says Stewart "is a bit too intense for me," though Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, after consulting his 9-year-old grandson John, backs Stewart. Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison likes home-state favorites Terry and Bobby Labonte. "Lone Star State drivers take a back seat to no one," she cheers. Virginia Sen. George Allen, the grand marshal at the upcoming Food City 500, who sports a No. 3 sticker on his car in memory of Dale Earnhardt, also goes for locals: Hamlin, Burton, and Hermie and Elliott Sadler.
Indiana Rep. Mike Sodrel counts Stewart as a constituent. "He's our office favorite." Rep. Marsha Blackburn promised Sterling Marlin's wife she would cheer his No. 14 car. She even wants a NASCAR stamp and a national NASCAR holiday. What's more, she says, "I wouldn't resist an invitation to ride in the pace car--not that I'm asking."
Who Doesn't Want to Be a Spook?
War and terrorism aren't hurting applications for the Central Intelligence Agency. Insiders say applications have jumped an amazing 40 percent in one year alone. The CIA now gets some 2,800 applications a week. And most come in online applications.
Democrats Look West for 2008
Howard Dean's Democratic National Committee this week will formally solicit bids from cities eager to host the 2008 presidential convention August 25 to 28. We hear that the party would like it in the West or Southwest. Dean's unusually early announcement has irked the GOP, and there are rumors that the Republicans might try to spoil the Democratic event by choosing the same dates. But Republicans insist that's unlikely.
Dressing Down and Dissing the Fans
Remember "Flip-flop-gate," when a few casual members of Northwestern University's national championship women's lacrosse team visited the president last summer while wearing the sandals? Well, some administration types are wondering why University of Texas star quarterback Vince Young didn't face the same type of critical coverage when it was his turn to visit the White House for the championship team's victory lap. While his teammates wore suits to the event earlier this month, Young forgot his and dressed in jeans and zippered sweatshirt. President Bush even made a joke about it. But here's what really torqued those who welcomed the team. While every other player gladly signed autographs for Bush aides, the future pro refused most and even hid from some staffers. "Our crowd was all UT, but he didn't want to give us anything," says one glum Longhorn fan.