John McCaslin

It won't be long before President Bush is a typical American again, sitting at home on his La-Z-Boy recliner, munching on snacks in front of the TV.

Or so Mr. Bush, a former Texas governor, observed during the annual state dinner he hosted for the nation's governors at the White House on Sunday night.

"You know, I've developed a unique perspective on this event," he said. "For six years, I sat and watched the president speak. For eight years, I was the president and spoke. And next year, I'll be watching on C-SPAN."

Longing for home

The Safeway in Georgetown had better stock its shelves, because the king is coming to town.

His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan will begin a working visit to the United States next week, during which time he will hold talks at the White House with President Bush on ways to advance Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations.

Practically every time he visits Washington, the casually dressed king is spotted at the Wisconsin Avenue Safeway filling up his shopping cart with food and treats.

By the way, there are Safeways in Jordan: six full-service stores, one wholesale center, and two Safeway Express convenience stores. All the stores, we read yesterday, are open seven days a week and offer a range of supermarket items, perishables and general merchandise.

Loan counselors

Amount that President Bush's new 2009 federal budget requests for so-called "housing counseling": $65 million.

As Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson put it in a recent speech, the current onslaught of failed home loans — the secretary refers to them as "suicide loans" — and foreclosures could have been avoided if the homeowner had only "read the fine print" and understood the contract, which can now be accomplished with HUD-approved "housing counselors."

Winning the slots

Consider it a privilege to fly into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Meaning, it's one of the few airports in the nation where strict flight limitations are imposed, given the few short runways and close proximity to downtown Washington.

Not long ago, however, we reported that Congress created exemptions to the airport's slot limits (landings and takeoffs) in order to promote airline competition and enhance air service to the nation's capital.

Even then, the Department of Transportation had only four exemptions (one exemption permits one daily takeoff or landing; thus, two slot exemptions are required for a single daily round trip) to award, with five airlines in contention for the prizes.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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