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In the Loop: Gov. Sanford Gets Guidance From a Biblical Source

Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi gave then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whom he called Leeza, several gifts, including a diamond ring.
Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi gave then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whom he called Leeza, several gifts, including a diamond ring. (By Dave Raczkowski -- Grand Rapids Press Via Associated Press)
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And what did Rice give Gaddafi in return? A plate adorned with the Great Seal of the United States and her robo-pen signature. Gaddafi told her he thought it was lovely. A plate? What? If he's good and she returns seven more times, he has a full service? This from the world's only remaining superpower to our best buddy in North Africa?

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Times surely are tough. A small plate with a seal, though unsigned, goes for $39.95 at the State Department gift shop.

Gaddafi's largess was, as would be expected, outdone by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who showered close to $1 million on U.S. officials in 2008. His Highness gave Rice a "gold, diamond and sapphire set with necklace, ring, bracelet and earrings" as well as a "ceremonial robe." Value: $230,145.

But not all gifts are lavish.

Some can be a bit quirky, like a Singapore official's gift to President George W. Bush of a "Creative Zen MP3 Player and an OSIM uSqueez Calf and Foot Massager."

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko gave Vice President Richard B. Cheney and his wife, Lynne, "Two bottles of 1940 Massandra Golden Collection Wine" the gift list says, noting these, like any perishable gifts, are "handled pursuant to U.S. Service policy." (Bet the wine tasted really good.)

Yushchenko also gave Lynne Cheney "Three Ukrainian cookbooks," valued at $90, which she kept. And he gave the Cheney daughters and grandkids seven Ukrainian children's books, six plush stuffed animals, three girls' blouses, three boys' shirts, and a "wooden toy cart with horses," which they kept.

Even King Abdullah can get practical. He gave Lynne Cheney "two pairs of Dr. Scholl's high-heeled clogs," valued at $450. She declined. He gave daughter Liz Cheney (who was doubling as a deputy assistant secretary of state at the time) three pairs of those high-heeled clogs.

The report doesn't say who gave then-CIA Director Michael V. Hayden that "sword with a copper and brass hilt" worth $400, because his travel is secret. And it's unclear who gave some rugs to an "agency employee."

Many gifts go on display or are used in government buildings. Maybe we can auction them off to help pay for Obama's health-care plan?


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