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It's a Scandal -- and This T-Shirt Proves It

By Al Kamen
Monday, January 9, 2006

Loop Fans started submitting entries last week to the In the Loop Name the Abramoff Scandal Contest, confidently assuming there would have to be such a contest.

Actually, we'd thought about having one but decided not to. After all, there was a "Name that Scandal" contest last year, focusing on former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and superlobbyist Jack Abramoff .

And yet, the new entries were pretty good and the scandal seems to have broadened since then -- along with Jack's waistline. Abramoff's frontal assault on sartorial decency at his court appearance Tuesday was the last straw.

So . . . okay. The Name the Abramoff Scandal Contest will kick off 2006! Names ending in -gate, while not automatically rejected, are frowned upon.

Send your entry -- and rationale -- via e-mail to intheloop@washpost.com or mail to In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Deadline is midnight Jan. 18. Top 10 winners get a still-rare, highly coveted In the Loop T-shirt. (Shown here for those who doubted their existence.) Entries on background are welcome, but everyone must include telephone numbers to be eligible.

Don't delay.

Talkin' the Talk in Texas

Almost overlooked in a week of major news . . .

President Bush said Wednesday that he will ask Congress for $114 million to teach Americans little-taught languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Hindi and Farsi. The initiative is vital, he said, because "we need intelligence officers who, when somebody says something in Arabic or Farsi or Urdu, knows what they're talking about." Diplomats also need to speak the local language.

The new funding, he told the U.S. University Presidents Summit on International Education, is needed to "defeat this notion" that the United States is "bullying" people.

People who speak the same language feel more at ease with one another, he said, noting how much easier it is to conduct foreign policy with foreign leaders who've studied here and speak English.

"In order to convince people we care about them, we've got to understand their culture and show them we care about their culture," Bush said. "When somebody comes to me and speaks Texan, I know they appreciate the Texas culture.

"I mean, somebody takes time to figure out how to speak Arabic, it means they're interested in somebody else's culture," he explained.

You know, people study for years to speak fluent Texan.

Bremer's Iraq by the Book

Today's the day that L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer 's book, "My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope," goes on sale. Early buzz was that the former Iraq reconstruction chief and Medal of Freedom winner is going to say that Washington ordered him to disband the Iraqi military -- widely seen as perhaps the most colossal strategic blunder of the Iraq war.

There's also said to be some score-settling with a senior Pentagon official whose last name rhymes with "held."

Well, why not let it all out? What could they do? Take back the medal?

Smackdown at the NSC

There's substantial tussling over who'll succeed recently departed Michael Green for the hugely important job of National Security Council senior director for Asia -- covering China, Korea and Japan. Green's deputy, Dennis Wilder , is acting senior director, but talk of his taking the top job has sparked intense opposition from folks who perceive him as lacking in hard-line anti-Chicom credentials.

Other names mentioned for the job include Richard P. Lawless , a top Asia hand at the Pentagon -- though he's said to be disinclined to move -- and James J. Shinn , the CIA's national intelligence officer for East Asia.

Moving On

Also on the Asia front, Joseph DeTrani , special envoy to the stalled six-party talks trying to get the North Koreans to drop their nuclear weapons program, has moved over to work for his old pal and director of national intelligence, John Negroponte .

DeTrani, formerly a top CIA officer in East Asia and Europe, and special envoy for the past two years, is senior adviser to Negroponte.

At the World Bank, 25-year veteran Gerry Rice is moving on to "pursue other opportunities outside the bank," an e-mail late Wednesday told employees. He was "relinquish[ing] his duties as Corporate Communications Director effective today," the e-mail said. An acting director will be in charge while the Paul D. Wolfowitz team selects its new communicator.

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