ThinkFast AM: June 28, 2006

“Top executives at oil giant Shell have begun a 50-city tour across the United States this summer in hopes of persuading angry consumers that Big Oil is not ripping them off.”

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) announced the Senate will not vote on a bill reducing the Paris Hilton Tax this week.

The administration sent Deputy Assistant Attorney General Michelle Boardman to the Hill yesterday to defend Bush’s use of signing statements to contravene laws passed by Congress. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) told her, “[Y]ou know, it’s almost irrelevant what you say because, once again, this administration has said”¦they don’t care what we think.” Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) said he is “seriously considering” filing legislation to give Congress legal standing to sue Bush over the issue.

Last October, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott made headlines by announcing his support for an minimum wage increase. But now, critics say, “the company has abandoned Scott’s pledge” and “cynically dumped the issue, even as major trade groups it belongs to…help lead the fight against a higher minimum wage.”

Do Nothing Congress: The House will vote on a conservative-backed resolution “today or Thursday” that is expected to attack The New York Times for its recent disclosure of the government’s secret monitoring of Americans’ bank transactions.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and declared, “I don’t know anyone who is more admired and respected in the international community than President Karzai.” Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported, “Many Afghans and some foreign supporters say they are losing faith in President Hamid Karzai’s government.”

The U.S. Surgeon General has issued the “most detailed statement ever on secondhand smoke,” which found “indisputable” evidence that secondhand smoke “is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults.”

“Warren Buffet’s generosity is the exception, not the rule. Well-heeled Americans are not inclined to fork over their fortunes to charity.” According to a new U.S. Trust Survey of Affluent Americans, 74 percent of the funds go to offspring while just 9 percent would be given to charity.

Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker reprimanded Congress yesterday for its “inability to pass annual and supplemental appropriations on time,” saying it “has forced the service to siphon money from its regular programs to pay for wartime operations for the last two years.”

And finally: Another administration official with a criminal record? “In answer to whether he had ever been arrested,” Treasury Secretary nominee Henry Paulson said that in 1969, “I climbed a fence of a public swimming pool in West Lafayette, Ind., and swam in this pool after-hours. I was arrested for trespassing and fingerprinted. Subsequently, all charges against me were dropped.”

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