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The Cabinet: Who's Next?
The Interior Department slot had been difficult to fill, with various contenders popping up and then going down in the last month. The leading contenders last week were Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-N.M.) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.). But hunters and fishermen thought Grijalva too green. Enviros, however, thought Thompson too close to hunters and fishermen and maybe too close to Madam Speaker Nancy Pelosi, especially geographically.
So, rather than offend, Obama is calling on Salazar -- though some enviros are unhappy with his support for some oil shale drilling. Hill folks said they were stunned that Salazar would give up a Senate seat -- especially a seat the Democrats could easily lose in 2006. But he came into the Senate and sits there right by -- you guessed it -- Barack Obama.
Salazar's office says his plans for this week are to remain in Colorado. Plans change.
Stealing Obama's Thunder
We were waiting by the television yesterday for Obama to tell us who the next secretary of energy was going to be. But more than an hour before Obama took the stage, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory broke the news about their director: "President-Elect Barack Obama has nominated Steve Chu . . . to be Secretary of Energy."
Holding Up Holder Talks
Seems Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) has prevailed. The Senate Judiciary Committee announced yesterday that it is delaying the confirmation hearing for Obama's nominee for attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., by about a week, scheduling it for Jan. 15 and giving Specter and other Republicans more time to parse Holder's record. (And for Specter to recover from his arduous trip to Europe and the Mideast.)
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the committee's chairman, said in a statement that the delay is to "accommodate the Republicans" and added: "It is disappointing to me that they are insisting that we delay at a time when the nation needs its top law enforcement officer and national security team in place and working."
Holder's confirmation hearing should be a relative blockbuster, what with his role in President Bill Clinton's 2001 pardon of financier Marc Rich.
(Pardon the Interruptions)
The official White House transcript of the shoe-throwing incident during President Bush's news conference Sunday in Baghdad simply calls it "(Audience interruption.)" Though Bush joked about it.
And in his news conference in Kabul with President Hamid Karzai, the press pool report said that Bush faced a pointed question from a reporter who said his comments about Afghanistan were a lie and that the Taliban "were laughing across the border" in Pakistan.
This, too, was "(Not translated)" on the White House transcript.
Yet Bush's answer was faithfully recorded: "I respectfully disagree with you. The Taliban was brutalizing the people of Afghanistan. And they're not in power. And I just cited the progress that is undeniable."
Maybe he speaks Pashtun or Urdu?
With Philip Rucker