Envoy Mystery: Situation Wanted

By Al Kamen
Friday, May 13, 2005

Times must be getting rough out there for U.S. diplomats.

We often browse through the want ads in the European edition of the Financial Times, checking for job opportunities, sales and so on. In Tuesday's edition, on page 6, just before the ads for business opportunities in Iraq and a "Group bingo/gaming operation" company for sale, we spotted this: "Just retired U.S. Ambassador to Europe."

The advertiser boasts a "distinguished career in law, business, management and government." Sounds like a political appointee, not a career foreign service type. Our former diplomat is "offering advisory services to international company or high net worth individual or family." Very discreet. Not even a mention of the House of Saud.

"Expertise in the Euro-Atlantic area includes risk assessment, representation of public and family-held corporations, and diplomacy," the ad continues. "Fluent in major European language," which we assume is something in addition to English but not Basque. "Reply in confidence to: adambassador@yahoo.com ."

We replied but haven't heard back yet. Anyone know who this character is?

Enter Before Contest Becomes a Pumpkin

Don't forget! Midnight tonight is the deadline for entries to the In the Loop Name That Scandal contest. This is to find a catchy name for the investigations into House Majority Leader Tom DeLay 's travels -- the golfing trip in Scotland allegedly paid for by a tribal casino, the travel to Russia -- or his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff , or to termites.

Send your entry -- and rationale -- via e-mail to intheloop@washpost.com or mail it to In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. All entries, even on background, must include telephone numbers to be eligible.

In Your Debt

FactCheck.org, a site run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, reviews political ads for accuracy. It's well-regarded by both parties. And it appears to take those ads very literally.

So, looking this week at the bitter fight over President Bush 's judicial nominees, FactCheck.org found that "the liberal People for the American Way released an ad May 3 attacking [two Bush nominees]. The PFAW ad says of [nominee Janice Rogers ] Brown , 'She's so radical that she says, with programs like Social Security and Medicare, seniors are cannibalizing their grandchildren!'

"Actually, Brown was speaking about the debt being passed on to future generations, not suggesting that Medicare or Social Security causes old people to eat human flesh," the reviewers said.

A most welcome clarification.

Was Bush Exercising His Mind?

There's been much negative chatter in the media about President Bush not being notified about Wednesday's plane scare until after he had finished riding his bike in Beltsville at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and the alert had been lifted.

Detractors noted Bush thus was unaware that Laura Bush was being moved to a more secure spot in the White House complex and that Vice President Cheney had been evacuated. And they questioned why Bush had several hours of free time to spend in midday to travel to a nature preserve for his ride.

But as White House spokesman Scott McClellan noted, Bush had just come back from an extensive, well-received trip to Europe. Then there was that annoying grenade -- a dud -- found at his big rally in Tbilisi, Georgia. So there's no reason he shouldn't give himself time to rest and exercise.

Bush is known to strap on his iPod while riding. Most likely he had it on and was listening to country music, but the critics cannot know that he wasn't listening, say, to an audio book by Princeton's Bernard Lewis , the definitive scholar on all things Arabic and Ottoman. Bush might have been listening to Lewis's classic "The Arabs in History." Or perhaps Lewis's "What Went Wrong -- The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East."

So maybe they should all lighten up?

800-Pound Gorilla on the Wall

A devoted Loop Fan, who happens to have been the manufacturer of the magnificent bronze plaque to former first lady, now senator, Hi llary Rodham Clinton mentioned in Wednesday's column, writes to clarify her part of the costs of the Agency for International Development's shrine to Clinton.

Amy H. Krohn , president of The Bronze Plaque in Charlottesville, says there have been many differing estimates of the cost -- we used one we had seen of around $80,000. But Krohn says her company billed AID only $27,388 for the 800-pound plaque. That does not include the installation expenses, which AID took care of, or the costs of other parts of the lobby exhibit.

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