Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- When Vice President Dick Cheney was asked in a recent taped television interview what has "best prepared you for where you are now," he quickly replied that it was working for Gerald Ford and Donald Rumsfeld.

"(President) Jerry Ford gave me the opportunity at 34 to run the White House (as chief of staff)," Cheney told columnist-commentator Armstrong Williams. He added: "Don Rumsfeld (as Nixon administration anti-poverty chief) taking me under his wing when I was a green would-be academic, 27 years old, when I first arrived in Washington, and teaching me (as his chief of staff) a great deal about how this city works, about how politics work."

A footnote: Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld are close allies in the Bush administration, often aligned against Secretary of State Colin Powell.


A private statewide survey by pollster Jim Moore portrays California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger flying high but President George W. Bush still facing trouble in the Golden State.

The survey shows only 17 percent unfavorable for Schwarzenegger against 43 percent favorable, with 40 percent stating no opinion. Bush recorded 43 percent favorable, 50 percent unfavorable (in interviews before the capture of Saddam Hussein).

A footnote: State Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who came under fire for announcing his vote for Schwarzenegger in the recall election, led Democratic prospects for governor in 2006 with 35 percent favorable, 15 percent unfavorable. State Treasurer Phil Angelides, who has been assailing Schwarzenegger, was 28 percent favorable, 20 percent unfavorable. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who ran against Schwarzenegger Oct. 7, is California's most unpopular politician at 54 percent unfavorable, 32 percent favorable.


When the Senate reconvenes Jan. 20, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will call a risky cloture vote on the House-passed omnibus appropriations bill providing funds for 11 government departments.

Frist is betting that earmarked money for special projects in the states of individual senators will get him the 60 votes necessary for cloture in the 100-member Senate. However, Republican Sen. John McCain and other foes of congressional "pork" will oppose cloture in an effort to improve the bill. The deadline for renewal of spending authorization is Jan. 27.

A footnote: Senate Republican leaders are trying to revive the House-passed energy bill, also branded by McCain as pork-filled. A Senate cloture attempt failed before Congress quit for the year.


Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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