Washington telecommunications lawyer Anthony S. Harrington has impressive credentials for an ambassadorship. He was general counsel for Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, general counsel of the Democratic National Committee, assistant dean of the Duke Law School and an aide to former North Carolina governor Terry Sanford (D).

Better still, he even has some knowledge of foreign affairs, being vice chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. He oversaw the 1996 report that cleared the CIA of involvement in the torture and killing of several Americans in Guatemala in the early 1990s.

But that's not why President Clinton is giving him an exceptionally plum posting. Seems Clinton is deeply indebted to Harrington and now it's payback time. Harrington is the pal who found Clinton his black Labrador retriever Buddy, nephew of Harrington's Labrador. The idea was to get the dog for Clinton to ease "empty nest" problems because of daughter Chelsea's departure for college. Turns out Buddy's doghouse was a convenient place for Clinton to bunk for a while last year.

So the prize? Brazil. (Granted, Brasilia's not much, but there are always things to do in Rio.)

The supporters of the two leading candidates, career foreign service officer Donna Hrinak, backed by the State Department, and retired Adm. Paul Reason, backed by some in the White House, basically dueled to a standoff. As often happens in such cases, Harrington, now undergoing background checks, slipped through.

Hrinak is to be ambassador in Caracas, which is where she was first headed. Meanwhile, one more plum has just come vacant on the death of Florida Democratic fund-raiser E. William Crotty, who had been ambassador to Barbados.

Just Listed on the Hill

Congressional Quarterly's editors have selected 50 members of Congress as the most effective players. CQ's report, out Friday, has 12 categories of lawmakers, from "Drivers," defined as "people to be reckoned with," to "Mavericks," who follow their own drummers.

The "Drivers" are Sens. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.), which is only right since he's in charge of transportation.

Then there were the "Mavericks," such as Sens. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Reps. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Greg Ganske (R-Iowa). There are the "Rhetorical Warriors," Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (Tex.), Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (Ill.) and Robert Wexler (Fla.), and Sen. Robert G. Torricelli (N.J.). They're all Democrats. When you're in the minority, rhetoric is what you've got?

Other categories include "Niche Players," "Centrists" and "Political Survivors." But why no categories for dumbest, smartest, meanest, nicest, craziest and sexiest?

"We'll leave that to Loop readers," said executive editor David Rapp. Hmmmm. . . .

Fleet Retreat After Setback in the Outback

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright's staff must not have gotten much free time on that recent Africa swing. Seven aides took off in two vans at 5:30 a.m Saturday to visit a game park outside Nairobi so they could be back for a 9 a.m. meeting.

Must have been hippo feeding time because a big one apparently mistook them for rivals--or breakfast--and charged at the first van and then mauled the second, breaking the rear window, denting the fender and leaving marks across the back. But the group--Nichole Tucker, Suzy George, Lynn Sweeney, Kitty Bartels, Jim O'Brien, Karen Kirchgasser and Barbara Ensslin--made it back on time. Next time go later?

Interest in the Fed Is Falling

White House folks suspect the Republican Senate is fixing to make sure President George W. Bush has a chance to pick a majority of the members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Senate GOP types dismiss this as nonsense, but some moves have Clintonites uneasy.

The Senate recently confirmed board member Roger Ferguson to be vice chairman for four years, but did not act on his nomination for a full 14-year turn on the board. Ferguson's term as a board member ends Jan. 31.

The Senate banking committee has not acted on the nomination of Carol J. Parry, sent up in August.

But a committee aide denies anything untoward and notes that if the White House were so concerned, how come there's been no one nominated to fill the seat that Alice Rivlin vacated in July. In addition, it appears the Senate's been a bit preoccupied with major banking overhaul legislation.

If there are no more confirmations in the Clinton presidency, another seat comes up in 2002 and another in 2004, giving the next president as many as five of the seven members.

None of this makes any practical difference as long as Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan--whom banking committee Chairman Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) called "the greatest central banker in the history of the world"--is in charge, but should he leave, a weaker chairman may need to work to get a majority.

The Other Nashville

Roger Salazar, who's deputy press secretary at the Gore 2000 campaign, has been asked to go to Nashville, and he's going to hang there for a week before his new job as director of communications and media advocacy for the American Cancer Society, where his new boss is Dan Smith who's married to Lorraine Voles who was his boss in the veep's office.