While auto executives were criticized for their lavish corporate jets, Wall Street has largely escaped such scorn. “Six financial firms that received billions in bailout dollars still own and operate fleets of jets to carry executives to company events and sometimes personal trips.” Insurance giant AIG, which received $150 billion in bailout funds, has seven planes, making it “one of the largest fleets among bailout recipients.”
“The Associated Press contacted 21 banks that received at least $1 billion in government money” to ask how much has been spent and where the rest of the money has gone. “None of the banks provided specific answers,” AP reports. “Some banks said they simply didn’t know where the money was going.”
Radio syndicator Westwood One is expected to announce this week that former senator Fred Thompson “will begin hosting a two-hour show in March” during Bill O’Reilly’s soon-to-be-vacated time slot. Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani was rumored to be in negotiations for the slot, but “a deal was not struck.”
During his interview on Fox News Sunday yesterday, Vice President Dick Cheney asserted that 9/11 was his “highest moment in office.” He explained: “The way in which that changed the nation, and set the agenda for what we had to deal with as an administration.”
At the Muslim Public Affairs Council convention this weekend, Pastor Rick Warren said, “I love Muslims. And for the media’s purpose, I happen to love gays and straights.” Juan Cole, who spoke at the conference and came away impressed with Warren, writes, “If Warren is the future of the American evangelical movement, then many more evangelicals might end up Democrats.”
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) said yesterday “it was wrong” for President-elect Obama to invite Rick Warren to give the invocation at Obama’s inauguration, citing Warren’s comparison of gay marriage to incest. “I found that deeply offensive and unfair,” Frank said on CNN. “[B]eing singled out to give the prayer at the inauguration is a high honor. … And, yes, I think it was wrong to single him out for this mark of respect.”
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino issued a scathing response to Sunday’s New York Times article that said President Bush’s “philosophy” of deregulation and home ownership helped stoke the mortgage crisis. The White House accused the Times of “gross negligence” and relying on “hindsight with blinders on and one eye closed.”
The Obama team’s “review of contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will show that Rahm Emanuel had only one phone conversation with Blagojevich,” including only a “passing reference” to the Senate vacancy. The review “did not include records of conversations taped by federal prosecutors.”
Though the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq calls for all American combat troops to be out of the cities by the end of June, “military planners are now quietly acknowledging that many will stay behind as renamed ‘trainers’ and ‘advisers’ in what are effectively combat roles.” The troops would still be armed and able to “go on combat patrols with their Iraqi counterparts.”
And finally: The infamous “Obama Girl” has inspired an imitator…in Israel. Dvir Bar, a backer of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, has become “Livni Boy.” In the clip, Bar “showers next to a Livni poster and raps his way through Tel Aviv in praise of the leader of the centrist Kadima party.” “She’s a woman who looks a lot better in person. TV doesn’t flatter her. She’s cool,” said Bar in an interview. Watch it here.
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