Haley Barbour cut quite a swath through Washington in recent years as Republican National Committee chairman and a prosperous superlawyer. But ads airing on Mississippi television are assuring voters that Barbour is really the same old Yazoo City boy he was back when he captained the high school football team.

Barbour's run for governor is in the early stages, but he is unlikely to have many weeks better than this past one. Mississippi was buzzing over the fact that Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D) has been quietly angling for a new job -- as president of Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss.

Musgrove eventually took himself out of the running for that job and said he will seek reelection in November. But the episode energized Musgrove's primary challenger, mega-lawyer John Arthur Eaves Jr., and left many Democrats begging Attorney General Mike Moore to reconsider his decision not to run for the Democratic nomination.

"Meanwhile, ol' Haley Barbour's sitting over there in Yazoo City with a smile as big as a possum in a sweet potato barn," wrote Stan Tiner, executive editor of the Sun-Herald in Gulfport. As the Saturday deadline to qualify for the governor's race approached, Barbour had no primary opponent.

AFL-CIO Criticizes Bush on War

The AFL-CIO executive council meeting in Florida last week approved a resolution sharply critical of President Bush's handling of the build-up toward war with Iraq while "fully support[ing] the efforts to disarm the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein."

Under Bush's direction, the resolution says, the United States has "squandered" international goodwill, insulted "many of our strong allies and divided the world at a time when it should speak as one."

The labor federation said Bush "has not fulfilled his responsibility to make a compelling and coherent explanation to the American people and the world about the need for military action against Iraq at this time. America has always been a peace-loving nation, slow to take up arms and resolute in pursuit of diplomatic resolution to crises. This administration's actions are sadly eroding that reputation and the respect it accords us."

Rum Service

A French-Cuban company has formally asked the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to reconsider a ruling that Bacardi-Martini U.S.A. Inc. and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) did not violate prohibitions on "ex parte" communications in a dispute over the trademark for "Havana Club" rum.

"Bacardi has made, and caused others to make in its behalf, numerous ex parte communications to obtain a favorable result . . . including e-mails, oral conversations and secret meetings," argued lawyers for Havana Club Holding (HCH), S.A., the joint French-Cuban venture. An ex parte exchange typically involves one party communicating with a judge or judicial body without the opposing party being present.

HCH said new documents "provide extraordinary additional confirmation and amplification" of the allegations that Bacardi's lobbyist and the Jeb Bush administration sought to influence former representative James Rogan, now director of the Patent and Trademark Office, along with other political and career employees of the agency. The new material, according to HCH, confirms the charge that "Bacardi set out to enlist Governor Bush to apply political pressure to obtain the cancellation [of the trademark]. . . . The result is a sorry trail of ex parte communications by or for Bacardi . . . "

The HCH's appeal cites documents "reflecting at least two secret meetings between Deputy Director [Jon] Dudas and agents for Bacardi" and "ex parte e-mail reflecting Bacardi's effort to have the Commerce Department intervene with the [patent office] to have political appointees overrule career staff."

Staff writer Thomas B. Edsall contributed to this report.

Haley Barbour has no announced opponent in Mississippi's Republican gubernatorial primary.