ThinkFast: July 28, 2006

“Senate and House leaders have made plans to adopt vastly scaled-back versions” of their lobbying reform packages. “I’m happy where things are right now,” said Paul Miller, president of the American League of Lobbyists.

$1,318: The profits earned every second by Exxon in the second quarter, “topping forecasts” but coming in “just shy of a record.”

The “tide of public opinion across the Arab world is surging behind” Hezbollah, turning the group’s leader Nasrallah “into a folk hero.” Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which initially had criticized the group, are now publicly “scrambling to distance themselves from Washington.”

President Bush’s meeting with American Idol finalists at a moment of heightened tensions in the Middle East “demonstrate[s] a lack of seriousness.” Darrell West, a political scientist at Brown University: “There’s the risk that people will ask, ‘Doesn’t this guy have something better to do? Shouldn’t he be solving foreign crises?'”

U.S. Sgt. Lemuel Lemus has said in a sworn statement that he was given an order to “kill all military-age men” during a raid in Baghdad by a colonel and a captain. The colonel, Lemus’ commanding officer, has refused to testify at any stage of the court-martial, a “very rare” occurrence.

The Commerce Department reported today that the “growth of employee compensation, already thought to be the slowest in any post-World War II recovery, has been even weaker than previously assumed.” Compensation grew a mere 2.3 percent between 2003 and the end of 2005.

The Bush administration “should immediately abolish all secret detention and secret detention facilities,” according to a new report by the United Nations, citing the administration’s failure to allow Red Cross observers access to the prisoners.

The military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is becoming “a very effective weapon of vengeance in the armed forces.”

After public criticism of its management of the disastrous Big Dig project in Boston, the federal government is now dropping contracting giant Bechtel from a project to build a high-tech children’s hospital in Iraq “after the project fell nearly a year behind schedule and exceeded its expected cost by as much as 150 percent.”

And finally: “White House Press Secretary Tony Snow rocks the jazz flute. Ron Burgundy surrenders.”

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.