Aw, Colonel Qadhafi, you shouldn't have! Condoleezza gets her bling on

I'd never thought of Condoleezza Rice as a diamond kind of girl. A string of pearls is more her thing, I'd assumed. Either I was wrong, or Condi's going to have to make a very quiet trip to a jeweler to exchange the $200,000 diamond ring in a wooden box given to her by Colonel Muammar Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi. Why did she accept this gift, you ask? Same reason as hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of gifts accepted by Rice and other Bush cabinet members: "non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. Government."

Uh...huh. But lest we get excited, these gifts are all supposed to be turned over to the government; even those that would seem more at home in Texas -- or on the red carpet.


George W. Bush is a diamond guy, too; gifts from Arab leaders include the Order of Zayed gold necklace with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, among other doohickeys, valued at $86,500, from His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates.

Many of the gift-getters were previously unheralded staffers, the sort of whom you'd almost think, Aww, what harm would it have done to let him bring those diamond earrings home to his sweetheart? And seriously: is the Foreign Archives the best place for the OSIM uSqueez Calf and Foot Massager that his Excellency Goh Chok Tong, senior minister, Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore, presented to President Bush? Although, for the (considerable) record, there was also a Creative Zen MP3 player in that package.

And I really want to see George W. wearing the navy suede robe with gold rope trim and mink lining that was gifted him by the King of Saudi Arabia, and brandishing the silver and gold saber, adorned with diamonds and rubies, presented by His Royal Highness Sultan Bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, secretary general, Supreme Commission for Tourism, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Among the gifts are a surprising number of robes, most lined in wool or other animal skins; many mountain bikes and personalized biking gear; a stuffed lion and leopard from Tanzania; roller blades (complete with knee, elbow and wrist protectors) from the Netherlands; and Dr. Scholl's high-heeled clogs from Saudi Arabia.

I feel a little sad about the several thousand dollars in Italian silk ties President Bush had to turn over, and the quantities of cigars and wine "handled pursuant to Secret Service policy." (Please say that doesn't mean "sealed in a biologic containment unit for fear of poison.") Also "handled": 38 boxes of Godiva chocolates from Morocco; chocolates, "spirited cherries," and corn relish from Brunei; caviar, cognac, and pomegranates from Azerbaijan.

Among the gifts "retained" are three Ukrainian cookbooks given to Lynne Cheney. It pleases me to think of her cooking Ukrainian food for Dick. In my imagination, though, he's wearing a suede robe lined in wool with gold accents, and the Order of Zayed gold necklace, just for good measure.

Still "pending transfer to the General Services Administration" -- does this mean she won't give 'em back? -- are loads of gifts given to Rice, including the aforementioned diamond ring; another $200,000something gold-diamond-and-sapphire set with necklace, ring, bracelet and earrings from the King of Saudi Arabia; and -- you guessed it! -- a $1,400 pearl choker from Ms. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, member of the European Commission External Relations and Neighborhood Policy. Now that's more her style.


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