ThinkFast: January 19, 2007


Rich Little, the comedian chosen by the White House Correspondents Association to headline the annual correspondents dinner, has been told by organizers of the event that “they don’t want a repeat of last year’s” performance by Stephen Colbert.” “They don’t want anyone knocking the president. He’s really over the coals right now, and he’s worried about his legacy,” Little said. “I won’t even mention the word ‘Iraq.’

$8.4 billion: The cost of the Iraq war per month. “The Pentagon has been estimating last year’s costs for the increasingly unpopular war at about $8 billion a month. It rose from a monthly ‘burn rate’ of about $4.4 billion during the first year of fighting in fiscal 2003.”

In a 96-2 vote, the Senate yesterday approved an ethics reform package. Conservatives agreed to support the bill only after forcing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to schedule a vote granting line-item veto power to the President.

The New York Times reports that while details about the Bush administration’s shift on warrantless spying remain “sketchy,” critics believe “one goal of the new arrangements was to derail lawsuits challenging the program in conventional federal courts.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “appears to be under pressure from the highest authorities in Iran to end his involvement in the country’s nuclear program, a sign that his political capital is declining as his country comes under increasing international pressure.”

Ten major companies — including General Electric, DuPont, and Alcoa — “have banded together with leading environmental groups to call for a firm nationwide limit on carbon dioxide emissions that would lead to reductions of 10 to 30 percent over the next 15 years.”

The Medicare prescription drug program increased U.S. drug sales by $2.5 billion in 2006, bolstering earnings at Pfizer Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc. as well as other pharmaceutical and insurance companies. “Purchases under the benefit, offered through the Medicare health program for the elderly for the first time last year, accounted for one-sixth of the growth in sales.”

The House yesterday capped its “100 Hours” agenda with the passage of an energy bill repealing tax breaks for big oil companies, marking “the sixth piece of legislation approved in two weeks.”

And finally: “Hi, I’m Art Buchwald, and I just died.” Famed Washington humorist Art Buchwald passed away yesterday, but he leaves on a funny note. Watch his video goodbye at the New York Times, and his farewell column in today’s Washington Post.

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