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Global-Warming Panel Has the Power of the Hot Seat

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Members swamped him afterward, and one observer noted that in addition to being a hunk he seemed to still have his teeth -- thankfully protected by a goalie mask for those 15 seasons.

Harold Ford's Off the Hill but Still on a Roll

Former congressman Harold Ford Jr., the Tennessee Democrat who narrowly lost a Senate bid in a nasty race, has further expanded his repertoire. Ford, who is aligned with the moderate wing of his party, has joined the conservative Fox News as a political contributor to the network's news programming for the 2008 elections.

In Congress for a decade, Ford was considered a hot commodity on a very fast political track. Since his defeat in November, he has been teaching public policy at Vanderbilt, has become an executive at Merrill Lynch and has taken on the chairmanship of the Democratic Leadership Council.

Minority Lessons 101: Guide for the Power-Deprived

Republicans got a jolt when they lost Congress last November but an even bigger jolt when it became clear that less than half of them had ever served in the minority.

So Rep. Adam Putman, chairman of the House GOP Conference, got cracking on an educational series to enlighten the powerless on dealing with the media, Internet political tools and tips on parliamentary maneuvering.

Parliamentary Boot Camp, for example, was a recent session on "Asking the Right Questions: How a Minority Member Can Make the Most of a Committee Hearing." Among those invited over the past couple of months to chat up the troops: Billy Pitts, a former longtime leadership aide, columnist George Will, Republican spinmeister Terry Holt and former congressman Robert Walker.

"It's the intangibles that caused some adjusting to -- the lack of information, having no control of the agenda," said Putnam. "The guys who delivered us the majority are still around, and we wanted to bring them in to get up to speed.

Who Sizzles and Who Fizzles

The nonpartisan Congress.org released rankings of the most powerful legislators in Congress this week, and just as interesting as the newly empowered were those hovering at the bottom of the list. Predictably, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid topped the list, and the list quickly moved to committee chairmen with muscle.

The rankings took into account the legislators' ability to get things done by the traditional paths of leadership positions and committee assignments but left room for the "sizzle" factor -- reserved for those who "exert or possess power that can't be measured by these standard measures." Specifically mentioned in this category were three presidential candidates, Sens. John McCain (18th), Hillary Clinton (12th) and Barack Obama (27th).

Sen. Elizabeth Dole, sadly, was not given points for sizzle -- or much else, for that matter. She ranked as the 95th most powerful senator. Yes, that is out of 100. Vying for the bottom rung was also Sen. George Voinovich, who despite serving since 1998 ranked 90th. And as if he hasn't already had a bad year (or two), Rep. William Jefferson came in dead last in the House, awarded negative "fizzle" points due to scandal. Being accused of stashing a $90,000 bribe in his freezer was bound to affect something, since it tipped neither his reelection campaign nor his ability to get a committee assignment.


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