Happy Tuesday everybody... and welcome to today's daily briefing.
As we prepare for tonight's 6pm show, we've been talking a lot about the chaotic scene on Capitol Hill today. Roland Burris, the Illinois politician picked by embattled Governor Blagojevich for Obama's vacated Senate seat, made one heck of an arrival this morning. It was one of the more chaotic media scrums you will ever see. Adding to the weirdness, Burris was greeted and then kept from the Senate floor by an old friend -- Terrence Gainer, the former Illinois police director, who is now Senate sergeant at arms and doorkeeper.
Even stranger, one of the lawyers helping Burris try to overcome the rejected credentials is William Jeffress, a top laywer for Scooter Libby.
Yes, D.C. is a small world.
Anyway, we are planning to start the show this evening with the dramatic and yet confusing sights and sounds today on Capitol Hill. Between the Burris chaos and the swearing in of the 111th Congress, we've got a lot to show you and talk about.
Plus, several people were sworn in today in the Senate who will have very different roles in a few weeks. So why did they participate? In Joe Biden's case, it has to do with a Congressional delegation trip he wants to take overseas before becoming V.P.
Regardless, it was amusing to watch Biden and VP Cheney face to face today after some of the rough things they said about each other last fall.
Also tonight, if you have kids or grandkids, take a look at them and imagine saddling them with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. That's what our government is doing now. And it's going to get worse. Today President elect Obama said the annual budget deficit "will exceed one trillion dollars for several years," despite the recovery he is hoping for. As it stands, the overall debt is nearly $12 trillion. Check me on this... but with all the zeros, I believe that figure is written out this way: $12,000,000,000,000. In the short term, that isn't even one of the top Obama administration headaches. Today, Obama and Biden apologized to Senator Dianne Feinstein for not giving her a heads up about the selection of Leon Panetta as CIA director. Feinstein heads up the intelligence committee and was steamed yesterday to be blindsided.
We've got a great segment tonight about the bumps here at the end of Obama's transition.
One of the cooler things about working in D.C. and covering the White House is the opportunity to travel on Air Force One. I did it a few times back in the 1990s during the Clinton administration and still remember the excellent food served on fine china by air force stewards But, as interesting as the press compartment is, the front of the plane is off the charts amazing. Barack Obama got a taste of it the other night when he flew to D.C. on an aircraft that is part of the Presidential fleet. Tonight, we will show you the inside of the 747s that will be available to Mr. Obama, his family, and staff in two weeks. Ken Walsh, a reporter for U.S. News and World Report has written a great book about AF1 and will tell us what he thinks Mr. Obama will enjoy the most.
By the way, did you catch the hot debate that Pat Buchanan, Harold Ford, and yours truly had on last night's program? Pat and I got into it over Israel's war with Hamas and Obama's relative silence, which I think is the appropriate posture by the President-elect. Click on the video link for "crisis in the Middle East" at http://shuster.msnbc.com.
Even though Pat and I have our policy disagreements, he is one of the most decent guys you will ever meet in the political/media world on the air or off. By the way, did I mention that Pat is also my office mate? We have a lot of fun together... more on that in the weeks ahead.
The temperatures in D.C. were a bit higher last night than some of the meteorologists were predicting. Amen! But, for all of you who are already dealing with snow, ice, and slippery roads... here are some helpful hints.
Today's quote of the day reminds us to take some time in our busy lives to appreciate art and science:
Albert Einstein: "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."
Thanks for joining us tonight on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The show airs at 6pm in Washington, D.C, 5pm in St. Louis, 4pm in Santa Fe, and 3pm in Seattle.