In Finland, our ambassador brings the muscle
By Al Kamen,
There are traditional holiday cards, and then there are nontraditional cards. There surely are none more nontraditional than the one sent out by our man in Finland, Ambassador Bruce Oreck .
Oreck, a lawyer and son of famed vacuum cleaner manufacturer David Oreck, was a major Obama bundler and Democratic contributor before getting the appointment to Helsinki.
He’s also a former professional bodybuilder and known among his friends to be somewhat irrepressible. So when one friend got the muscleman’s holiday card a few days ago, he took it to be the official embassy card and thought Oreck had indeed “lost his mind.”
But then he opened the card — which features Oreck and his wife in formal attire — and realized ”it was just Bruce being Bruce.”
As another Oreck friend noted: “Bruce has a great sense of humor.” The gag card, we were told, had a limited distribution to his friends.
Oreck’s also an adventurous sort, once hitching a ride with a Finnish Air Force pilot to cruise in an F-18D Hornet and recounting the trip in his online journal.
And lest there be any question, we checked with embassy spokesman David McGuire, who assured us “there is no Photoshopping. That is his real arm.”
Oreck, we were told, “places tremendous emphasis on staying in shape.” The photo is taken from a recent shoot Oreck did with ProBody Magazine, a Finnish fitness publication.
“The ProBody article was about his philosophy that 60 is the new 40 and maintaining fitness has become all the more important,” McGuire said, adding that Oreck “is a big man with an outsized personality to match,” making him “an extremely popular ambassador” in Finland.
As one Oreck pal said: “If you had arms like that, you would run a sleeveless picture of yourself in every column!”
Well, we prefer not to show off.
A courthouse for the Bushes
In the name-game race, score another for the former presidents Bush.
This week, both chambers of Congress cleared a bill naming a courthouse in Midland, Tex., after 41 and 43. The bill, which is awaiting President Obama’s signature, would designate the building as the George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush U.S. Courthouse.
And not that anyone keeps track of these things, but that helps the Bushes in the informal contest among ex-presidents to see who has the most stuff — buildings, parks, schools, etc. — named after them.
Earlier this year, the Little Rock airport was named after former president Bill Clinton and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Ronald Reagan’s name famously graces Washington’s airport, and John F. Kennedy’s is on one of New York’s.
George H.W. Bush, too, has an airport with his moniker on it: the Houston Intercontinental Airport was redubbed the George Bush Intercontinental Airport-Houston in 1997.
Even though he lacks a major airport with his name on it, Bush 43 shouldn’t despair — the Little Rock facility was renamed more than a decade after Clinton left office, so perhaps he just needs to wait a bit. And he can always console himself by sitting in the George W. Bush Owner’s Suite at the Texas Rangers’ ballpark.
The bill that Bork inspired
A funny coincidence in timing: The week former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork died, the House passed a bill for which he was the original inspiration.
The House this week adopted a bill updating the Video Privacy Protection Act, a piece of legislation prompted by one of the ugly moments (of many) during Bork’s failed 1987 confirmation process in which a Georgetown video store clerk shared the would-be justice’s video rental history with a reporter.
There wasn’t anything particularly scandalous about Bork’s videos — his tastes ran to Hitchcock and James Bond flicks — but outrage over the disclosure led legislators, including Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), to push through a bill banning such disclosures.
The new bill essentially makes it easier for customers of such companies as Netflix to share their favorite videos; under the current law, a company has to ask for permission each time it shares users’ movie rentals, and the update would allow customers to give their one-time okay.
And now, a few words about me
How can I make this about me? Speaking Thursday at the ceremony marking the arrival of the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye’s casket at the Capitol, Vice President Biden had some words — not just about his friend, the Hawaii Democrat who died Monday, but about someone else dear to his heart.
Biden noted that if he hadn’t become vice president, he would probably be the most-senior senator, a title that, after Inouye’s death, is now held by Vermont’s Leahy.
“Were I still in the Senate serving out that term, I would be Senate president pro tempore. I would be the most senior person in the Senate — which is a frightening thought, to think I’m that old.”
With Emily Heil