Panetta’s commute; Romney’s popularity; and a Barney witticism (read-this roundup)


Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is sorry about those pricey trips. (JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Now boarding — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta regrets that his weekend commutes to his home on the West coast are so pricey, but he’s not about to stop, reports our colleague Craig Whitlock. Our favorite quote in the story: “No one wants the secretary of defense making decisions on classified military operations from the middle seat on a crowded commercial jet,” a Pentagon spokesman says, justifying the use of a military aircraft.

Plus, the food is terrible.

Popularity matters — They like him, they really like him-- at least some people do. Mitt Romney’s more well-regarded than ever among Republicans, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. But the former Massachusetts governor has a “popularity deficit” elsewhere.

Long good-bye — We get that it’s just an expression, but how much stuff does Romney think the Obamas have in the White House? During an interview with Diane Sawyer, he advised President Obama to “start packing.”

Quote of the day — “I think it’s important that my colleagues interact with a married gay man.” — Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), describing for New York magazine why he intends to marry Jim Ready, his fiancé , before he retires from Congress (per the Reliable Source).

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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