A prominent Democrat attended the Washington fundraising reception in the downtown Sofitel hotel last week for Mississippi Republican Gov. Haley Barbour's re-election campaign: super-lobbyist Tommy Boggs.
Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and White House political aide, is a national figure in the GOP. Boggs, both of whose parents were Democratic House members from Louisiana, is a major contributor and fundraiser for his party.
Barbour and Boggs were fellow capital lobbyists before Barbour returned to Mississippi. They were founding partners in the Caucus Room, a Washington steakhouse favored by political insiders.
The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department raised the ire of Detroit by advising its employees by e-mail last month in a "HHS Energy News Report" to buy cost-efficient motor vehicles. It recommended 12 models -- not one made by a U.S. auto manufacturer.
In a bipartisan letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, all 15 of Michigan's House members protested. "You may be interested to know that U.S. auto manufacturers sell a wide range of fuel efficient, clean fuel cars, SUVs and trucks," they told Leavitt. "Consumers can choose from a wide variety of models made by American auto companies that get over 30 miles per gallon."
The memo, calling for "a smart choice when selecting a vehicle to drive," urged purchases of smaller sedans instead of sport utility vehicles (SUVs), which are the top product of American companies.