No Pigeonholing Treasury's Paulson
Calling President Bush's third and best treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, a different kind of bird than Washington is used to doesn't ruffle the feathers of the former Goldman Sachs chairman. How could it? A nature buff who got his start in birding at 26 by banding falcons on Maryland's Assateague Island and rising to become chairman of the Peregrine Fund and the Nature Conservancy, Paulson proves that you can be a high-powered administration bigwig and have a life. "This is not," says a pal, "your traditional Republican treasury secretary."
Just consider how he's decorated his Treasury office. Besides the standard sheets of dollar bills, he's hung eye-catching nature shots taken by his wife, Wendy. Arriving at 7:45 a.m. after a quick haircut, Paulson gives us a tour, starting at a wall of 12 colorful shots of flowers. Over at his desk, among three computer screens flickering with market news, he flips through a nature photo calendar made by his wife. Off to the corner is a photo of Paulson holding a trout and another of him hoisting a thick, 40-pound bluefish. Clearly, this is a man who knows his place: in front of, and not manning, the camera. Says a longtime aide, Paulson is more of a binoculars guy than the maker of Kodak moments. And he admits it. "Wendy is a committed naturalist and a talented photographer," he says. "I like showing her pictures to others."
Chatty Abramoff Gets an FBI Desk
Jack Abramoff, the lobbying scandal figure, has become such a chatty rat that probe insiders say he's been given a desk to work at in the FBI. We're told he spends up to four hours a day detailing his shady business to agents eager to nail more congressmen in the scandal. And when cooperative witnesses spend that much time inside, they get a desk. As a result of his help in the ever expanding investigation, we hear that the Feds hope to keep him in a nearby prison after he's sentenced on his conspiracy admission.
This Spectator Is Wild About GW
As publisher of the Wine Spectator, Marvin Shanken, we have to believe, has a very refined palette. So why would he fork out $100,000 for two bottles of very young rye whiskey? Because they were bottles No. 1 and No. 2 from the George Washington Distillery at Mount Vernon, a remake of GW's original still house. "It was really about what the money was for," says Shanken, whose first trip ever to Mount Vernon on the Potomac River was for last month's booze auction for Mount Vernon's educational initiative. He donated No. 1 to the distillery and is keeping No. 2 for display in his New York office. Will he crack the seal? "I don't really have any plan to drink it," he says, pausing, "but you never know."
Come On, Bush, It's All or Nothing Now
Congressional Republican leaders are urging President Bush to join in their pre-election bashing of Democratic leaders, but so far he's shied away. Pollster John Zogby says Bush should listen to his team because warning voters about the changes a Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would institute could save the GOP. "That could be a winning strategy," he says. But since only Bush has a national megaphone, "it's really going to have to be the president" who yells at the Democrats, says Zogby.
Deal Maker Quayle's Latest Snow Job
Credit former Vice President Dan Quayle with getting former Bush Treasury Secretary John Snow to join the $18 billion private investment firm Cerberus Capital Management. Insiders say the two go back 20 years and are longtime golfing partners. They tell Whispers it was the former veep who brought Snow to the table where he sits in the chairman's seat. What once was a sideline for Quayle when the firm managed just $4 billion has become his main job, and he's now one of the firm's leading dealmakers. We hear he played a major role in its investment in GMAC. Snow will play a similar role: opening doors and making deals.
Muslim Music to Pray, and Shoot, To
In a bow to realism, the Sixth Annual International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Ga., is taking a page out of the real-life situation troops face in Iraq every day. For the contest taking place October 28, the U.S. Army Sniper School will include a few urban stress scenarios like blaring Muslim prayer music, exploding smoke grenades, and bloodied mannequins. "In some cases we've broken the head of the mannequin," says sniper school boss Capt. Kenny Crowley. "You've got some pieces of skull laying on the ground and fake blood." Crowley says the special effects make the contest realistic for spectators. Thirty teams from the United States, Canada, England, and elsewhere will compete to take the title from the Arkansas National Guard.
It's OK, Mom's With the President
If there's another terror attack on Washington, we know one mom who won't make it home: Bush terrorism czar Frances Townsend. "I don't worry about it. We planned," she says. Like other West Wing moms, she crafted a disaster plan with her two sons and hubby based on the expectation that she'll be with the prez, not at home. Her message to her sons: "They shouldn't worry about me because I'm trying to help the president fight the bad guys."
Like Grandpa, Like Granddaughters
Add a new name to the political dynasties of Bush and Clinton: Cheney. Recall that when Vice President Dick Cheney hit the campaign trail in 2004, he and his wife, Lynne, sometimes showed up with their grandkids in tow. Well, the kiddies got hooked. We know because earlier this month, when daughter Liz Cheney drove by the veep's residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory, one of her daughters urged Mom to turn in so they could see "Grandma" and "Grandpa." Liz sped on, explaining that the grandparents were out of town campaigning. "What?" barked one of her daughters in disappointment. "Without us?"
With Anna Mulrine
This story appears in the October 30, 2006 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.