Supreme Court Justice, Tech Geek
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas won't get upset if you call him a techno-geek. In fact, he loves it and is considered in the court to be a world-class techie who prefers working on his computer at home--or on the road in his RV. And now he's getting some pats on the back for bringing the court into the 21st century by pushing major advances in computer and high-tech security technology. "He is really into it," says Rep. Frank Wolf, a telecommuting proponent who helped Thomas get funding for the court's IT changes. It's a job the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist gave Thomas, though he's shy about taking credit. At a recent budget hearing, as Thomas demurred when asked if he was the force behind the changes, Justice William Kennedy barked, "Yes, yes."
A Boss Who Learns From the Little Guys
Donald Powell has one heck of a big job: He's the government's Katrina rebuilding czar. But all that power hasn't gone to the head of the 65-year-old former boss of the FDIC. We hear he travels with just an aide or two, flies coach, and rents his own car when in the Gulf, where he's visited 30 times. The long-time Texas banker tells friends he shuns the frills for this reason: He grew up poor and gets the pain hurricane victims feel. To keep up with issues in the Gulf, he taps secret sources who tell him what's really happening to common folk on the ground: He seeks out maids in hotels he stays at and gas attendants when he stops to pump gas. "He sets an example for all of us," says a Bush insider who now asks Powell's trademark question--"What are your issues?"--to diner waitresses when traveling the Gulf Coast.
A Rare Award for the Dynamic Duo
There seems to be no letting up of the showers of praise raining down on the odd couple of Katrina fundraising--former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. The latest: Both have been awarded membership to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a rare feat for politicians. They'll be inducted October 7 with Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts and actor Alan Alda.
Barbara Bush: Scrapbook Junkie
The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum has discovered a treasure-trove of family history thanks to Barbara Bush.Turns out she's a scrapbook junkie who has pasted 116 of them and is also an amateur photographer. "So far--and we are only up to World War II--we have found photos not seen before that show both George and Barbara as children, youth, and young adults," says a library official. Curators plan to mine the collections for new, unseen photos for future exhibits.
With Kenneth T. Walsh and Suzi Parker