We are balancing a number of stories for the top of the broadcast. The attack in Pakistan is notable if only for the reaction we received when making our rounds of government officials to confirm or deny. Also, the situation in Iraq remains top of mind, as does the current fixation with the monthly casualty count. Tonight, to try to get beyond the numbers, we've asked Mike Taibbi to tell us some of their stories. There is a lot of health news to report, having to do with the disparate subjects of trans-fats and premature babies. We will dip in to Decision 2006 by reporting on the Pennsylvania Senate race tonight, and we're so happy the California fire has gone to "under control" status. It was a heroic knock-down by the thousands who responded, and I join a previous e-mailer in noticing that finally the DC-10 was brought in to assist. I've yet to hear a good reason as to why, since it has FAA certification, it is not a first-response platform in a big and changeable fire, where lives and property are at stake.
A friend just asked me, "what are you going to blog about today?" I answered: "Hand sanitizer, of course." You had to be there. It's only funny if you're aware of The New York Times page one story this past weekend [NYTimes.com login required for link] on the rise of the popularity of Purell (and similar hand sanitizers) in politics. Shaking hands in the era of mega-germs has led to a run on Purell. The article mentions its use by the last two presidents, and it occurred to me while reading it that I had personal experience involving both. First, while covering the Clinton White House, I was an eyewitness to a scene similar to one depicted in the Times article: when President Clinton faced a huge dilemma after a large public event. He had been given a home-baked apple pie and had no utensils. What did he do? He ate it by hand. While I'm not casting any stones here (or pies) and will do just about anything when I'm hungry, what was amazing about the incident was the fact that he had just shaken hundreds of hands. As it happened, the motorcade vehicle I was sitting in had a direct view of his limousine, owing to the way we were snaked in an underground hotel parking garage. I didn't want to witness it, but I did. I have a similar but intentionally-suppressed memory involving paella in Florida. I do recall that in 1995 a Secret Service agent told me they had invented a pre-moistened foam-covered baton inside a seal-able cylinder -- which, in the days prior to the invention of Purell, acted as a portable hand-washing device for the President. It was kept in his limousine. I also recall President Bush using Purell at a lunch at the White House, prior to eating and after shaking hands with a dozen or so guests. I'm never without the stuff myself -- and as our travels often bring us to unsanitary places, it's always around. It's placement on page one of The New York Times means it has now taken on iconic status. Of course... it could also mean that some other page one story fell through at the last minute.
With clean hands and a pure heart, it's off to the newsroom. I hope you can join us tonight.