Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) was hardly the first person ever to be blindsided by a pop quiz on foreign policy. Longtime Washingtonians can hardly forget poor William P. Clark Jr., Ronald Reagan's nominee to be deputy secretary of state, who was skewered at his Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in February 1981.

Everyone knew Clark knew nothing about foreign policy--after all, it was only the No. 2 job at State--but that didn't stop the Democrats, led by Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), from badgering him anyway on matters such as: the names of the prime ministers of South Africa or Zimbabwe, the issues involved in U.S.-Brazilian relations or the Western European attitudes on deployment of new U.S. missiles there.

Clark, a former chief of staff to Reagan when he was governor of California, also didn't have "a personal view" or a "position . . . at this point" on cuts in foreign aid, recognition of the government of Taiwan or Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

So what? The GOP-controlled Senate confirmed him anyway. He was in the job less than a year and became--what else?--national security adviser to President Reagan until October 1983, when he succeeded James G. Watt as interior secretary.

And then, a little while later, the Berlin Wall came down. Which just goes to show you. . . .


Alert C-SPAN viewers may have noticed that Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-Idaho) has a new name: Helen Chenoweth-Hage, in recognition of her Oct. 2 marriage to rancher Wayne Hage. Does this mean the previously divorced Chenoweth-Hage, who insists on being called "Congressman," is now getting PC?

No, no, no. She says she offered to take her new husband's surname but he suggested some constituents might not recognize her if she made the switch.

"That was very generous of him," Chenoweth said in an interview this week, adding that she wasn't worried about voters not identifying her at the ballot box because she's not running for reelection next year.

Bipartisanship Never Sleeps

Quote of the Week: Sure, it's only Friday, but we're confident this one can't be topped. It's from Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho), remarking Tuesday on how he and Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) were in sync on some mining issues.

"Politics makes strange bedpersons," Craig said, according to the New York Times. "I would not be uncomfortable in Bob Byrd's bed."

When in Warsaw, Tell a Pollish Joke

Those Polls. Gotta hate 'em. But you also have to be careful if you're speaking in front of a Polish audience, as former president George Bush discovered yesterday in Warsaw. Asked about his son's presidential campaign at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the fall of communism, Bush started to talk about the illusion of high poll numbers.

"What appears to be happening at least from the deadly polls," he started to say before the audience erupted in laughter, reports Peter Finn, our man in Warsaw. Bush quickly corrected himself: "Not that sort of Pole, but opinion polling. Those Polls."

Bush said his role in his son's campaign would largely be that of a caring dad. "If I'm asked to do something, or Barbara is, we'll do it," Bush said. But "he's got to be free of his father's mistakes and if we got a few things right I hope he can take credit for them. . . . We'll be there as parents if he gets hurt and try and help him. And if he wins, cheer him."

And the former president noted that just might be the best role: "I've demonstrated that there [are] a lot better people to run campaigns than me."

Mr. Smith Leaves Washington I

Former Clinton political director and, until the move to Nashville, Gore campaign honcho Craig Smith is said to have been in Greece of late doing some advance work for the Clinton trip to Athens. That's the stop that was postponed and shortened in light of major anti-American demonstrations. Was it something he said?

Mr. Smith Leaves Washington II

"Take this job . . . " goes the old country tune. So Marshall S. "Mike" Smith, acting deputy secretary of education since 1996--and unable to get confirmed as deputy since 1997--is returning to his professorship at Stanford University.

Smith got crosswise with Republicans over direct federal loans to students and national testing of students despite his high marks from education groups and folks in the department. President Clinton has nominated Frank S. Holleman III, former chief of staff to Education Secretary Richard W. Riley, for the deputyship.

Changes of Address

Moving out . . . Carrie Hyun, deputy chief of staff at the Department of Transportation, is leaving to be director of communications at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Moe Vela, chief financial officer for the office of the vice president and senior Latino adviser to Vice President Gore, is joining an Internet startup called Solo Ella, which focuses on issues affecting Hispanic women.

Moving over . . . Mark Magana, formerly with the Democratic Caucus, where he was senior policy adviser to Rep. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), has moved to the White House to become special assistant in the office of legislative affairs.