Stowing Away the Time? Bush's Suddenly Absent Watch

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What really happened to President Bush's watch? That was the big question yesterday, with plenty of answers from which to choose.

On Sunday, the president -- no jacket, sleeves rolled up -- dove into an adoring crowd in Fushe Kruje, Albania, and was mobbed by well-wishers who grabbed his arms and hands. In photographs and video footage, Bush is wearing a dark-strapped watch on his left wrist that suddenly disappears, leading to international speculation that a fast-fingered fan lifted it.

No, no, no, said the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, which denied that the timepiece had been stolen. The White House said Bush took it off himself. "The president put it in his pocket, and it returned safely home," said press secretary Tony Snow yesterday. It's not unusual for the president to remove his wedding ring and watch before working a crowd, confirms our colleague Peter Baker.

That hasn't stopped video of the alleged pickpocketing from circulating on the Internet. Other possibilities? The Associated Press quoted an Albanian bodyguard who said the watch fell off the president's wrist and a member of his security team picked it up; Reuters said Bush briefly swung his arm behind his back so a bodyguard could slip it off; MSNBC aired footage it said shows the president pocketing the watch.

Our take? We stared at YouTube postings, network coverage and plenty of photographs -- and still can't say for sure what happened.

Remembering David Halberstam, Journalist of a Generation

In the early days of the Vietnam War, after an embarrassing loss for the American allies, journalist David Halberstam -- then only in his 20s -- called the U.S. commander at his home in Saigon to complain that the military wouldn't take reporters to the scene. The next morning, a public-affairs officer tried to chew out the journalist for the perceived breach in protocol.

Halberstam was having none of it, his colleague Neil Sheehan recalled at Halberstam's memorial service in N.Y.C. yesterday. "We don't work for you or General Harkins," he bellowed back. "We work for our editors."

Pulitzer Prize winner David Halberstam in 1986.
Pulitzer Prize winner David Halberstam in 1986.(Ellsworth J. Davis - The Washington Post)
About a thousand people filled Riverside Church to remember the Pulitzer winner, who died in a car accident in April, reports our colleague Robert Kaiser. Paul Simon and Peter Yarrow sang; John Lewis, Gay Talese and Anna Quindlen, among others, eulogized; and more than one evoked Halberstam's book title -- "The Best and the Brightest" -- to describe the man. "No generation produces more than a few great journalists," Sheehan said. "David was our great journalist."

Hey, Isn't That ... ?

Ed Begley Jr. -- yes, that gangly blond guy from "St. Elsewhere" and a million other things -- unloading individual hangers of clothing outside his Dupont hotel and regaling a fan with the excellent mileage he got driving his hybrid here from California instead of polluting the jet stream. He was here to emcee last night's National Trust for Historic Preservation/HGTV gala, featuring Laura Bush. Anyway: tall guy, small carbon footprint.


Divorcing: Actors Dermot Mulroney, 43, and Catherine Keener, 48, after an epic- for- Hollywood 17 years of marriage. The couple (once great pals with Brad and Jen) are known for their starring roles in little movies and their supporting roles in big ones (Mulroney, "About Schmidt"; Keener, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin"); he's an Alexandria native and graduate of T.C. Williams High. "Irreconcilable differences," according to his petition; they have one son.

This Just In ...

Paris Hilton, now in her 11th day of incarceration, has had no celebs rallying to her side (except Hugh Hefner -- go figure, doesn't seem like his type). Now the socialite has been dropped by her talent agent, Endeavor Agency, according to People magazine. Do we smell centerfold?

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