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Guess Libby's Pardon Date, Win a T-Shirt

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The verdict is in! Now it's time for the In the Loop Pardon Scooter Contest! Yes, simply pick the date that President Bush will pardon Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who, according to federal sentencing guidelines, is looking at 18 months to three years in the slammer.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton has set June 5 for sentencing. He has discretion to order Libby immediately to prison or let him stay out until his appeals are exhausted. So, assuming that Bush -- who could pardon immediately if he wanted -- won't allow Libby to spend time behind bars, he might need to act then.

If not, the next likely pardon time would be when the U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit announces its decision on Libby's appeal. That can take many months. The court recently has been averaging about 15 months from appeal to decision. By that schedule, it could rule on Libby's appeal in September 2008, right before the election.

If Libby loses the appeal, Walton may decide then to order him to prison. This would make it decision time again for Bush. It's not a squeeze the White House wants to be in.

The best hope for the White House would be if Libby stays out pending appeal and the appeals court doesn't rule until after the election. Then a pardon might come along with the Thanksgiving turkey or around Christmas.

Send your entries -- one date only: month, day and year -- to: intheloop@washpost.com. Ten people closest to the pardon date will receive a coveted In the Loop T-shirt. You must include your name and telephone numbers to be eligible. Deadline is March 14, assuming Bush doesn't act before then.

Affirmative Action? Moi?

Maybe it's not Tom Cruise jumping the couch, but Justice Clarence Thomas, in a most unusual interview in the current Business Week, angrily denounces "the media" and the idea that he benefited from what some might call "affirmative action."

The magazine's senior writer, Diane Brady, had barely said "hello" in the justice's chambers in January when Thomas launched into a tirade. "One of the reasons I don't do media interviews is, in the past, the media often has its own script. . . . The media, unfortunately, have been universally untrustworthy" -- no exceptions, it seems -- "because they have their own notions of what I should think or I should do."

Brady, after much effort, got the rare interview because she was writing an article about Thomas's beloved college mentor, the Rev. John E. Brooks, the former president of Holy Cross College, who set out in 1968 to recruit African Americans to the Massachusetts school. Brooks had asked Thomas to see her.

Thomas, despite his view of reporters, talked on and on, unburdening at length about his life, his days at Holy Cross and at Yale Law School and his current job. (See a redacted transcript at http://www.businessweek.com/print/magazine/content/07_11/b4025080.htm?chan=g1)

Brooks, then a dean at the college, went to inner-city Catholic schools, offering scholarships and even driving some kids from Philadelphia to the Worcester campus to have a look. He saw the number of blacks go up from about two per class of 650 a couple years earlier, to 28 entering in 1968.

The extraordinary group, in addition to Thomas, included Ted Wells, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's attorney who was named 2006 Lawyer of the Year by the National Law Journal; former New York City deputy mayor and investment banker Stanley E. Grayson; and Eddie J. Jenkins, a former pro football player and now chair of the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

So this recruitment drive, which in no way amounted to affirmative action but miraculously boosted black enrollment, maybe helped Thomas? Brady asked.

"Oh, no," he said. "I was going to go home to Savannah," after he left a Missouri seminary, "when a nun suggested Holy Cross. That's how I wound up there. Your industry has suggested that we were all recruited. That's a lie. Really, it's a lie. I don't mean a mistake. It's a lie," Thomas said.

Had to be intentional. After all, no reporter would have thought everyone had been recruited when only 27 of 28 were. "I was never recruited," Thomas said. "The others were recruited." Thomas said he got there by "total serendipity. I just showed up. But somebody had to recognize it was a good place to be, and it was a Franciscan nun."

Others in Thomas's group don't seem as bothered by the notion that Holy Cross finally reached out to minority students. Noting his unimpressive SAT scores and unexciting high school grades, Edward P. Jones told BusinessWeek: "Five years earlier, Holy Cross would not have chosen me." Jones, of course, is the Washington native and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the bestseller: "The Known World."

Thomas said he is working on his memoirs -- he got a $1.5 million advance from HarperCollins a while back, but it doesn't appear he'll be finishing any time soon.

Loop Fans will be able to read "Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas," by our colleagues Kevin Merida and Michael A. Fletcher, coming out April 24. Former Baltimore mayor and now Howard University law school Dean Kurt Schmoke says the book "is not a collection of preconceived notions in search of supporting facts."

Thomas, who now sits atop the legal world, also complained of "the exhaustion."

What sort of exhaustion? Brady asked.

"Everything," Thomas said. "Mental. Physical. Spiritual. Just constant change. You just want to slow down. You see people take a walk and you want to, too."

Imagine how he'd feel if he'd been on the court in the 1980s, when they had twice as many opinions to write and arguments to hear as they do now. Then there are those exhausting summers off.

Moving On . . .

James Glassman, television pundit, American Enterprise Institute scholar, former editor of Roll Call, former Washington Post columnist and author of books including our favorite -- "Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting From the Coming Rise in the Stock Market" -- is said to be getting the job of chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a part-time -- but time-consuming -- gig overseeing the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks and the Cuba broadcasting operation.

Exiting the FEC?

Word spread yesterday that Federal Election Commission member Michael Toner will announce his departure today to start an election law practice in town. Toner came to the FEC in 2002 after a stint as chief counsel to the Republican National Committee and as general counsel to the Bush 2000 campaign.

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