Daily Briefing: But Caribou Like Oil

There Are Unknown Unknowns New WSJ/NBC poll: Bush's approval rating steady at 49%; 52% think Bush has mandate in Iraq; 50% think investment of Social Security funds is "bad idea"; 65% expect partisanship in new year. [WSJ]

Republican leaders growing critical of Rumsfeld. Collins: "I think there are increasing concerns about the secretary's leadership of the war, the repeated failures to predict the strengths of the insurgency, the lack of essential safety equipment for our troops, the reluctance to expand the number of troops." Hagel: "That soldier, and those men and women there, deserved a far better answer from their secretary of defense than a flippant comment." [NYT]

Test of missile defense fails miserably. [WP, NYT, WSJ, WT]

Environmentalists launch "fight of our lives" to save ANWR; enough votes seen for passage of bill for drilling. [WP]

Bush gets to pick top staffers for reorganization of intelligence; Franks, Studeman, Lehman, Hayden mentioned for top post; Goss uninterested. [WP, USAT]

Bush signals tort reform is a "priority issue"; Social Security leads economic summit. [WP, NYT, USAT, WT]

High-flying unmanned aircraft seen as alternative to $9.5b satellite program. Expert: "It is a fact that when you're doing reconnaissance against an adversary who doesn't have an air-defense capability, it's intrinsically better to use a platform that gets closer to the target and has a longer dwell time." [NYT]

Several former military lawyers come out against Gonzales' nomination. [NYT]

Bush tells Syria, Iran to stop "meddling the internal affairs of Iraq." [WT]

Tauzin, author of new Medicare law, will join drug lobbying firm; salary set at $1m. [NYT, WSJ, WT]

Bush comments on currency: "We believe that the markets should make the decision about the relationship between the dollar and the euro." [WSJ]

Campaign advisors share should-haves. Cahill: "In hindsight, maybe we should have put [Kerry] out earlier" when Swift Boat ads broke. Mehlman: "We should have more forcefully responded" to accusations of a military draft. [BG]

Privately-funded recount begins in Ohio. [LAT]

Kerik's former nanny, blamed publicly, remains in private. [NYT]

Jenna Bush "will live in Washington, she will teach at a public school," says McClellan. [USAT]

Largest inauguration requires most security; theme is "Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service." [WP, USAT, WT]

One inaugural party sold out 10,000 tickets at $1,000 each in two days. [WP]

Gore's mother dies at 92. [WP, NYT]



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