Fredo Finally Gives U.S. Attorney a Good Evaluation

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In the Justice Department's Great Hall (the very room where giant, blue drapes covered the underdressed statuary during John Ashcroft's tenure as attorney general), an array of prosecutors, securities regulators and FBI honchos gathered yesterday to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the President's Corporate Fraud Task Force.

Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who famously prosecuted former vice presidential aide Scooter Libby, was chatting with a pair of reporters about his upcoming appearance on the National Public Radio program "Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!" when none other than Attorney General Alberto "Fredo" Gonzales appeared at his side.

"Good job," Gonzales said, extending his hand to Fitzgerald. Must have been thinking of Fitzgerald's office's successful prosecution last week of media mogul Conrad Black for fraud, obstruction, etc. Fitzgerald, taken aback, didn't say much in response, our colleague Carrie Johnson reports.

Loop Fans may recall that a former Gonzales aide had placed Fitzgerald's name on a list of prosecutors who had "not distinguished themselves" in March 2005, just after Fitzgerald had indicted former GOP Illinois governor George Ryan and as he was investigating the leak of the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Red Lawn

Speaking of Gonzales, old-timers covering the White House often compare its vaunted secrecy to that of the Kremlin in Soviet days, when reporters would try to figure out who was in or who was gulag-bound by noting how far each official stood from the top guy on the podium at Moscow's annual May Day parade.

So President Bush's failure to acknowledge the presence of his attorney general at Sunday's White House Tee Ball game had reporters buzzing.

Bush, in pregame remarks, acknowledged the VIPs there: "I do want to thank John Warner, Senator John Warner, from the great state of Virginia, and his family, for joining us," Bush said. "Proud you're here, Senator. I see Alphonso Jackson and Dirk Kempthorne, of my Cabinet, who have joined us. I'm proud you all are here."

Gonzales, who was listed on the White House info sheet given to reporters, was sitting in button-down shirt and dark sunglasses just behind Jackson and Kempthorne.

Was Bush not "proud" he was there? The Kremlinologists wondered.

King What's-His-Name

President Bush has always enjoyed giving people nicknames. So we weren't surprised to see this announcement Monday from the White House: "President Bush called His Majesty King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia, His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Mubarak of Egypt in three separate phone calls this afternoon."

Most likely he decided to call the Saudi king "Abdallah" as opposed to his actual name, "Abdullah," to avoid confusion with the Jordanian. Well, better than "Ab-man."

Baby Steps

The Bush administration, hit with distressing regularity by bad news, is accentuating the positive whenever possible. So the president, faced with a less-than-stellar report card on Iraq last week, focused on the barely passing grades on the most meaningless benchmarks.

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