While Condoleezza Rice is busy doing bicep curls, her State Department underlings are doing heavy lifting in the gossip department. For some reason, lately we've received a fair amount of State-related scuttlebutt. Here are some highlights.

cameron hume.gifA tipster tells us: "The U.S embassy in Sudan held a private dinner at their residence. [U.S. Charge d'Affaires] Cameron Hume was dropping the usual comments about the Sudanese goverment. A couple of Sudanese businessmen -- incidentally, they don't support the GOS whatsoever -- felt he was being over the top. One told the ambassador that his comments were inflammatory and did nothing to foster better relations between the two countries. This is where it gets good. Apparently the man has a temper. So he said that they were like the businessmen in Nazi Germany and they indirectly supported the regime. They told him that his tone wasn't acceptable. This is where it gets better. He told them to 'Run tell your goverment and your Prophet too.'"

OH NO HE DIN'T!!! And did he draw a cartoon of the Prophet too? (If you think we're making this up, the broad outlines of the story are confirmed by this news account.)

Additional gossip -- concerning Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick and the infamous Pamela Willeford, Ambassador to Switzerland and Dick Cheney hunting partner -- appears after the jump.

A reader sent us an email about Bob Zoellick with the subject heading, "Zacharia Blows Zoellick in Bloomberg piece!" Thinking that the message was about a sex scandal involving Zoellick and our favorite foreign policy guru, we eagerly opened the message.

As it turned out, the message was about an adoring profile of Zoellick written by Janine Zacharia of Bloomberg News (no relation to Fareed Zakaria). The fawning article was less interesting to us than the commentary of our tipster: "People at State are snickering over this one, since Zoellick's corridor rep is 'a bigger asshole than Richard Holbrooke.'"

Finally, a brief postscript on Pamela P. Willeford, who recently was in the news as a hunting companion of Dick Cheney. If you haven't done so already, check out Al Kamen's interesting write-up about Pam Willeford. Kamen points out that Willeford's husband, George "Boots" Willeford III, was at the Armstrong ranch on the day that Dick Cheney shot Harry Whittington. Unless the Cheneys and the Willefords are real swingers, this casts serious doubt upon the wildrumor that Cheney and Pam Willeford were having an affair.

(Yeah, we know, Mr. Willeford was part of a different hunting party that day, in a different part of the ranch. But come on, people -- don't you pride yourselves on living in "the reality-based community"?)

Kamen also notes that Willeford, as U.S. ambassador to Switzerland -- and Liechtenstein! -- has taken tons of vacation during her term as ambassador: about five months of vacay, in a little over two years. Nevertheless, she's regarded as "one of the more dedicated and hardworking of the noncareer chiefs of mission in Europe."

Ah, an ambassadorship to a friendly, tiny European nation. Nice work, if you can get it!

Washington Recalls U.S. Envoy in Khartoum [Sudan Tribune]

U.S. Envoy at Home With a Gun and a Plane [WP]


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