Secretary of State Colin L. Powell defended his limited travel abroad -- fewest days overseas of any secretary in 30 years -- in a speech Thursday that appeared to take a few bipartisan shots at his immediate predecessors.

Powell noted in a speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace that a Washington Post report Wednesday "said that I have broken a tradition in that I have not traveled as much as, say, other secretaries in recent years have. It's a tradition that I do not mind having broken.

"And part of the reason that the tradition is broken," he said, is that: "I do not shop. I don't sightsee that well. I don't hunt animals. And there are a lot of other things I don't do."

The audience of veteran diplomatic types laughed knowingly. "That tends to make my trips shorter than perhaps others'." More laughter. "And I assure you that what I try to do is be where I'm supposed to be to serve this president and serve the American people. And sometimes that's in Washington, sometimes it's on the road. . . . "

"I do not shop"? Might this be a reference to Secretary Warren M. Christopher's taking time to pick up some fine apparel in London?

"I don't sightsee"? Maybe Secretary Madeleine K. Albright's "cultural diplomacy" tours?

"I don't hunt animals"? This couldn't be a slap at Secretary James A. Baker III who went to strategic Mongolia not once but twice allegedly to hunt endangered Argali sheep? (The sheep were saved the first time by Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Couldn't find them until the last day the second time and only shot photos.) And "other things"? Secretary George P. Shultz's golf forays?

An annoyed former aide to a more-traveled secretary said Powell should have added: "I don't do diplomacy."

Full Color or Black and White?

The GOP convention next month promises to be an extremely diverse affair. Nary a white guy to be found among the six "delegate profiles" listed on the convention Web site. There's one white woman, three African Americans -- one a woman -- and two Hispanics, a man and a woman.

This could be even more diverse than the wonderful 2000 Republican National Convention, which conservative columnist David Brooks called "a parody of inclusiveness. On stage . . . mostly black performers; in the arena, white people in the stands. It's like watching a basketball game with the Utah Jazz."

On Her Majesty's Savings & Loan

Do not miss the going-away party tomorrow at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for C.K. Lee, special adviser to Chairman Donald E. Powell and before that an aide to then-Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla.).

Lee, a political appointee who came on board in January 2001, is moving to the Office of Thrift Supervision, part of the Treasury Department, as a career employee. And better, so much better, his new job is to open a new OTS office. And where would this office be? London.

Yes, Lee will be the new senior adviser on foreign operations for OTS in that office, which is to open in September. He's leaving here in August, we hear. So please don't forget to honor him and wish him well at the party, starting at 3 p.m.

Given the astronomical prices these days for a halfway decent hotel room in London, it would behoove everyone to be extra nice to C.K. Surely he'll have a spare room in his flat. You could burrow in worse places.

Karic Enough to Send the Very Best

It's not often that members of Congress campaign overseas, but Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) gave it a try last month in, of all places, Serbia.

Brown was spotted over there in early June just before the first presidential balloting, working hard for candidate Bogoljub Karic, one of the richest men in the country.

Brother Dragomir Karic, Loop fans might recall, couldn't get into the United States to attend the National Prayer Breakfast last year. Because of the Karic family ties to former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic back in the old days, State Department folks wouldn't let him in.

Bogoljub ran a spirited race. Brown went to several rallies with him around the country in the week before the June 13 vote. (Unclear who paid.) She gave short endorsement speeches at the rallies and at one called him "the Serbian John F. Kennedy," according to one source. Another source said she led cheers something like "Go Bogo." She also did some television for him, noting that he founded a university. (Which gave her a fine honorary doctorate.) Maybe because of her efforts, Karic came in a most respectable third with almost 19 percent of the vote, ahead of the government-favored candidate. The first-round winner, a throwback-type ultranationalist, got 30.4 percent of the vote. Karic threw his support behind the U.S.-backed pro-democracy candidate, who won the runoff two weeks later.

Changing Scenes

Thomas J. Gibson, chief of staff to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Mike Leavitt and before that to Christie Todd Whitman is going private this fall. Gibson, a former top aide on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, also worked at EPA in the Bush I administration.

Dean Clancy, executive director of the President's Council on Bioethics, veteran of the Reagan and Bush I administrations and senior policy adviser to former House majority leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.), has taken over as associate director for human resource programs at the Office of Management and Budget. He replaced James C. Capretta who went to Wexler & Walker.