Martha Brant

Bush's 'Power Puff Girls'

Ari Fleischer needed answers, and he knew where to go. Early this spring, when the Bush administration quietly closed the Office for Women's Initiatives and Outreach, the White House press secretary was swamped with questions from reporters.

West Wing Story: A Tale Of Two Press Secretaries

On Ari Fleischer's book shelf there is, of all things, a copy of the "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Verbal Self-Defense." Sure, it was gag gift from a reporter, but the White House press secretary has never needed more guidance than during the diplomatic standoff with China, where the difference between "regret" and "sorry" appears to have finally won the release of the 24 crewmembers.

West Wing Story: Read No Evil

The Bush clan likes to say they don't pay too much attention to what scribblers like me write about them. Ignoring the press--or claiming to--started back when No. 41 (as the inner circle calls Bush Sr.) was running for president.

From An Unlikely Perch, 'Slotus' Takes Control

Lynne Cheney is small, blond and, when necessary, fierce. Her forceful personality was on display last week at the hospital as she quizzed doctors and protected her husband's privacy. "She was a commanding, impenetrable presence," says Mary Matalin, an adviser to the vice president. "My wife is in control of my food supply," the veep joked in a TV interview, but he heeds her as well on politics and policy.

West Wing Story: The Byzantine Rules Of Press Pools

When I started on the White House beat in January, no one handed me a "Press Pool Protocol" booklet. Sure, I understood that the "pool" was the small group of reporters who rotate the duty of flying on Air Force One, that it shadows the president to places the whole press horde couldn't possibly go and then files a "pool report"-written, recorded and filmed-for everyone else.

'That's Our Dubya'

It felt like old home week in Bushland. On Wednesday, we embarked on a five-state tour reminiscent of the campaign-but this time selling George W. Bush's budget rather than the candidate.We started in Beaver, Pa., where the president donned peacock-blue rimmed safety goggles and surveyed machine tools at an electrical-switch plant.

Bush Starts At Home

It was the night before George W. Bush's first foreign trip as president, and there was one unresolved issue. Would Bush agree to Mexican President Vicente Fox's request that they slip into cowboy boots and jeans?

'What Unites Us Is More Important Than What Divides Us'

Apparently, the oft-discussed "special relationship" between Britain and America won't end with Bill Clinton's departure from Washington. With a White House meeting scheduled for tomorrow, British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be the first foreign head of state to call on President Bush; a few weeks back, British Foreign Minister Robin Cook was the first minister to visit Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Hot Time In Gucci Gulch

The corporate tax lobbyists were all smiles and backslaps as they poured into the upscale Watergate Hotel a week ago Friday to meet with Larry Lindsey, the president's chief economic adviser.

The Man In Charge

George W. Bush and Al Gore in recent weeks have have been a real study in contrasts. While Gore personally drew up his recount strategy on a Palm Pilot, Bush cleared cedar brush from his 1,500-acre property in Crawford, Texas.

A Splash Of Records

The crowd looked as if it belonged at a Brazilian soccer match rather than a swim meet. Middle-aged housewives from Queensland donned yellow and green Afro wigs and boogied in their seats.

A Master Of Pool Science

When Lenny Krayzelburg was 8 years old, his swimming coach in Odessa, Ukraine, told his father: "Your son is born to be a backstroker." He had double-jointed elbows (like nearly every great backstroker) for a longer, more powerful pull.

Who To Watch

Fu Mingxia >> Diving, China Maybe she would have enjoyed retirement more if she'd taken up golf. Exhausted from the Atlanta Games, Chinese diving star Fu Mingxia swore she'd chamoised herself off for the last time.

Fast Lanes

To hear the buzz around the Aquatic Centre at the Sydney Olympic Park, the secret to breaking world records in swimming is already out. It's not the new sharkskin like body-length suit.

Grannies Of The Games

When Dara Torres mounts the racing block this week at the Olympic swimming Team Trials, she'll look a bit dated. She'll strap on bug-eyed, mirrored goggles like the ones she wore in her first Olympics--more than 15 years ago. "All the girls are always making fun of me," she says.At 33, Torres is practically a senior citizen in the world of swimming; one of her training partners was a toddler when she swam in her first Games.

The Buddy Who Has Bush's Ear

On a Saturday afternoon last fall, George W. Bush was in a hang-dog mood. Ridiculed by the press after failing to remember the names of various foreign leaders during a TV interview, Bush had just slogged through a two-hour remedial session with his chief foreign-policy tutor, former White House national-security staffer Condoleezza Rice.

The Fight Of His Life

Just before George W. Bush was re-elected governor of Texas in 1998, he sat with an old friend in the library of the governor's mansion in Austin, smoking cigars and talking about the future.

A Little Help From Mom

The Bush campaign brought its field marshal in pearls to New Hampshire last week. The Austin, Texas, strategists had held Barbara Bush in reserve for close primary contests where she could turn out the most GOP votes--and New Hampshire now tops that list.

The Sage Of Indianapolis

Stephen Goldsmith has discovered a new gadget: a headset for his mobile phone. He slips the phone in his pocket and straps on the earphone. That leaves his arms free to gesture emphatically, something he does all the time as George W.

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