Word out of the House Democrat leadership is that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is not only having her staff make plans for a trip to Venezuela to meet there with dictator Hugo Chavez, she has also asked staff to apply for a visa to travel to Tehran.
"She is getting bad advice from people back home in San Francisco," says a leadership aide, who is working for one Pelosi's colleagues. "She is not getting it from members of her leadership team. That's all anyone here is willing to say."
The White House was considering a replacement for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales earlier this month. The two most common names mentioned: Texas Sen. John Cornyn and current Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Chris Cox. But after some initial internal discussion, according to White House insiders, plans to dump Gonzales were dropped.
"Even if we'd nominated someone like Cornyn, it wasn't clear that we had the strategy or the chits to call in to get him confirmed in a timely manner," says a White House insider with knowledge of the discussions. "And Cox has been a disappointment at the SEC. He's shown too much of willingness to work with the Democratic members of the commission."
Given the White House's penchant for trying to do just that in inopportune moments, one would think that Cox's approach would have made him the No. 1 candidate.
As it stands, look for a cleaning of the house in lower ranks of Justice Department's political appointees, with Gonzales staying on for a period.
On Saturday, a "Draft Fred Thompson" rally was held in the small, out of the way town of Cookeville, Tennessee. The media is reporting attendance for the get-together at 300.
But the petition that attendees signed had more than 500 names attached.
The media pulled a similar shrinking job on the meeting that Thompson held on Capitol Hill earlier this month with Republican members of Congress. Then, it reported numbers between 35 to 40, when the number was closer to 60.
If there is one downside to Thompson's process to entering the presidential race, it is that he has limited opportunity to set the record straight on the inaccuracies being generated by the media and the left, if not other GOP presidential campaigns.
For example, the New Republic recently reported that Thompson was a "phony populist" for driving a red truck around the state during his '94 Senate campaign. But it failed to report that he took to driving the truck after his own campaign managers had attempted to package him as a straight, conventional GOP candidate.
"The truck wasn't about changing his image, it was about his getting back to who he really was," says a source who worked for Thompson back in '94. "It wasn't spin, just Fred wanting to be Fred."
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