HIGHTOWER: How to Become an Ambassador

To become a US ambassador and preside 160 embassies that we have around the world usually requires an advance degree in international studies, fluency in one or more foreign languages, expertise in the history and culture of a region, years of experience in the foreign service, and proven diplomatic ability. Or you can simply be a rich person who raised a bunch of dough for the president's election.

The New York Times reports that about 50 people are in line to get ambassadorial appointments from George W and that it's a very diverse group, including men and women, all ethnic groups, and every section of the country. But nearly all of them do have one thing in common: They raised big bucks for Bush's presidential run.

Take Howard Leach, for example, a San Francisco investment banker who put up $282,000 for Bush and other Republicans last year. He also was one of W's "pioneers" -- the insider group of corporate executives, lobbyists, and investors who collected at least $100,000 each for Bush's campaign. In addition, Leach donated another $100,000 to help pay for Bush's inaugural festivities. Now he's going to be our ambassador to France. Aside from being rich, Howard's not known to have any actual credentials to be our nation's top representative in Paris ... but he is said to be studying French. At least he'll know his escargot form his bordeaux.

Also getting plum postings abroad are Mercer Reynolds and William DeWitt Jr., two Cincinnati guys who bailed out Bush in 1984 when the oil company he started went bust. Then, in 1989, these two brought George into a sweetheart deal with the Texas Rangers baseball team -- a deal in which Bush literally was given $12.5 million for doing nothing. Reynolds and DeWitt also were Bush "pioneers" last year, and each of them put up $100,000 for his inaugural. As a reward both are now getting ambassadorships

This is Jim Hightower saying ... In Washington, them that gives is them that gets.

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