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Wanted: A Handle for the Scandal

"I'm afraid that I've said a lot of different things over the past five years," Boucher said, ". . . but unfortunately, the change on their part has been less than we had hoped for." On the other hand, he said, at his first briefing 15 years ago, "I think we were talking about Iraq's weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities. Some things go round and round. Some things change."

When in Rome . . .

Notes from Rome: The U.S. delegation at Pope John Paul II 's funeral, headed by President Bush , dined one evening at Ambassador Mel Sembler 's residence. Word is that after the meal, Sembler produced a box of fine, but not Cuban, cigars.

Sembler's wife, Betty , said no smoking in the house but the gentlemen could go out on the veranda.

One member of the group said: "But it's the president of the United States."

To which Betty Sembler replied: "But it's my house."

Bush said he understood she had the better case and led the group out to the veranda.

Not So Diplomatic After All

State Department Undersecretary John R. Bolton , nominated to be ambassador to the United Nations, has been accused of some most undiplomatic behavior both in and out of his jobs at the State Department.

But the diplo world, contrary to the movies, is not striped pants and tea. It's often bare-knuckle brawling.

For example, when A. Elizabeth Jones , former assistant secretary of state for Europe, was in Lisbon a couple of years ago, she was asked about former House speaker Newt Gingrich 's criticism of State for backing the likes of Syria's Bashar Assad . Jones, who has recently opposed the Bolton nomination, took the gloves off.

"Newt Gingrich does not speak in the name of the Pentagon, and what he said is garbage," she told a Lisbon daily. "What Gingrich says does not interest me. He is an idiot, and you can publish that."

It's a jungle out there.

Moving On . . .

Recently departed commerce secretary Donald L. Evans has landed a fine one. He's the new chief executive of the Financial Services Forum, which includes CEOs of the largest financial institutions in the world. Rob Nichols , former assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department, has been appointed to serve under Evans as chief operating officer.

Kathryn Lehman , a 15-year Hill veteran who has worked for just about all the GOP leaders in the House, including Gingrich, DeLay, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and now Republican Conference Chairman Deborah Pryce (Ohio), is off to the Holland & Knight law firm.

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